Chad Brown Trio Lead the Charge in G3 Knickerbocker

October 6, 2022

OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown will saddle Public Sector, L’Imperator and Lonesome Fugitive as he looks for his third consecutive score in Sunday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Knickerbocker, a nine-furlong inner turf test for 3-year-olds and upward, at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet.

The Knickerbocker is slated as Race 8 as part of a loaded card that includes the Grade 2, $250,000 Beldame in Race 3; and the Grade 3, $150,000 Futurity in Race 6 offering a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint in November at Keeneland.

Brown, who captured this event in 2020 with Devamani and last year with Sacred Life, will try to get Klaravich Stables’ multiple graded-stakes winner Public Sector [post 10, Irad Ortiz, Jr.] back on track after posting a record of 5-0-0-3 this year.

The 4-year-old British-bred Kingman colt captured a trio of graded events in succession last year, taking the one-mile Grade 2 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and 1 1/16-mile Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga Race Course ahead of a win in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Hill Prince at Belmont Park. He completed his sophomore campaign with a close fourth, defeated 1 1/2-lengths by the victorious Santin in the nine-furlong Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in November at Del Mar.

Public Sector’s trio of third-place finishes this season have come in one-mile Grade 3 tilts, completing the trifecta in the Poker in June at Belmont, the Forbidden Apple in July at the Spa and the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup last out on September 10 at Pimlico Race Course.

“He didn’t really step up like I thought he would this year,” Brown said. “I don’t know that I’ve managed him as well as I could have with some of the spots that were picked out for him. I do still believe in the horse and hopefully he can get back on track here.”

L’Imperator wins the G2 Fort Marcy (Chelsea Durand)

Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Robert V. LaPenta’s graded stakes-winner L’Imperator [post 5, Manny Franco] will look to improve on his seventh-place finish in this event last year.

The 5-year-old Holy Roman Emperor gelding won 3-of-4 starts in his native France before transferring to Brown and making his stateside debut with an off-the-board effort in the 2020 Grade 3 Saranac at one mile over soft going at Saratoga.

A productive 4-year-old campaign included a pair of optional-claiming wins on the NYRA circuit along with a good third in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Bernard Baruch Handicap at the Spa. This year, L’Imperator has stepped up his game, making the grade in the nine-furlong Grade 2 Fort Marcy in May over yielding ground at Belmont and a last-out score in the Presious Passion on September 10 at 12 furlongs on firm footing at Monmouth Park.

“He’s doing well. It’ll be a bit of a cutback for that horse, but he’s been doing fine,” said Brown.

John D. Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services’ Lonesome Fugitive [post 1, Javier Castellano], a 5-year-old Zoffany bay, will make his stakes debut from a neck score in a 1 1/16-mile optional-claiming tilt on August 19 over firm footing Monmouth Park.

The Irish-bred, who won a turf allowance in April at the Big A, boasts a record of 13-3-5-1 and will be making his first start beyond 1 1/16-miles.

“He’s a horse that’s been bounced around in allowance races,” Brown said. “He’s consistent and it’s time for him to step up and try a stake.”

Wertheimer and Frere’s Pao Alto [post 8, Jevian Toledo], a 5-year-old French-bred son of Intello, won the 2020 Group 3 Prix la Force going nine furlongs at Longchamp and the one-mile Group 2 Irish Thoroughbred Marketing Cup in February at Doha for his former conditioner Christophe Ferland.

Pao Alto debuted for trainer Graham Motion off a four-month layoff in September in the Baltimore/Washington International Turf Cup. He settled in fourth position under returning rider Jevian Toledo and vaulted to the lead inside the three-sixteenths pole, but could not hold off the late run of multiple graded stakes-winner Set Piece.

The game runner-up effort, a half-length to the better of returning rival Public Sector, garnered a 96 Beyer Speed Figure.

“I was very pleased with his effort,” Motion said. “I think we ran into a really nice horse coming off a bit of a break. Jevian gave him a great ride and I think for his first race back it was a very good effort.”

Pao Alto worked five-eighths in 1:03 flat on October 1 over the all-weather surface at Fair Hill in his first breeze back. The well-bred chestnut gelding is out of the Dashing Blade mare Peaceful Love, who is a half-sister to last year’s Group 1 German Oaks-winner Palmas.

Trainer Mike Maker will be represented by a strong pair of contenders with Three Diamonds Farm’s multiple graded-stakes winner Field Pass [post 7, Jose Gomez] and Nice Guys Stables’ stakes winner King Cause [post 4, Kendrick Carmouche].

Field Pass (Maryland Jockey Club)

Field Pass, a 5-year-old Lemon Drop Kid grey, finished a pacesetting second in this event last year ahead of a prominent score in the 1 1/16-mile Grade 2 Seabiscuit Handicap in November at Del Mar.

The well-traveled Maryland-bred has posted a record of 30-9-3-5 for purse earnings in excess of $1.1 million, led by scores in the 2020 Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, the 2020 Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland; the 2020 Grade 3 Ontario Derby at Woodbine Racetrack; and last year’s Grade 3 Baltimore/Washington Turf Cup at Pimlico. His lone win in seven starts this campaign came via disqualification in the Texas Turf Classic in July at Lone Star Park.

King Cause, a veteran of 32 starts with a record of 7-4-7 for purse earnings of $518,728, has posted wins on dirt, synthetic and turf.

The 7-year-old Creative Cause gelding captured the Kentucky Cup Classic in April at Turfway Park and enters from a pair of strong efforts traveling one mile on turf, taking an optional claimer in August at Del Mar ahead of a last-out second in a handicap on September 14 at Kentucky Downs.

Pixelate wins the 2021 renewal of the G3 WinStar Mint Million (Coady Photography)

Godolphin’s multiple graded-stakes winning Kentucky homebred Pixelate [post 6, Jose Ortiz] will make just his third start of the campaign for trainer Michael Stidham. The 5-year-old City Zip dark bay faltered in a pair of title defenses with a close third in the Prince George’s County in July at Laurel Park ahead of a sixth-place finish last out in the Grade 3 Mint Million on September 10 at Kentucky Downs.

A six-time winner from 25 starts, Pixelate captured the 2019 Central Park over yielding going in his lone start over the Big A turf. He has since taken the 2020 Grade 2 Del Mar Derby along with the 2020 Woodchopper at Fair Grounds.

Safe Conduct victorious in the Queen’s Plate last year (Mike F. Campbell)

WellSpring Stables’ Canadian Classic winner Safe Conduct [post 9, Jose Lezcano], who captured last year’s Queen’s Plate at Woodbine Racetrack, was a non-threatening fifth last out after attending a swift early pace in the restricted Lure on August 6 traveling 1 1/16-miles over the Spa turf.

Trained by Phil Serpe, the 4-year-old Bodemeister colt won a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer in May at Belmont ahead of a game second on June 18 in the nine-furlong Grade 3 Monmouth.

Bred in Ontario by Mitchell Kursner, the $45,000 purchase at the 2018 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale finished second to Never Surprised in last year’s Gio Ponti in his lone start over the Big A turf.

Rounding out the field is Mark B. Grier’s graded stakes-winner Eons [post 2, Trevor McCarthy] for trainer Arnaud Delacour; and Flying P Stable and James F. Schurman’s stakes-winner Dynadrive [post 3, Eric Cancel], who rallied from last-of-6 to capture the aforementioned Lure for trainer Tom Morley.

First post on Sunday’s nine-race card is 12:35 p.m. Eastern.

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By Keith McCalmont – NYRA Press Office

Main photo: Public Sector after his winning effort in the 2021 renewal of the G2 Hill Prince (Janet Garaguso)

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