OZONE PARK, N.Y.— Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown and owners John Gunther and Tanya Gunther were rewarded for their patience with the talented Love And Thunder when she scored her first graded victory in Saturday’s Grade 3, $175,000 Athenia traveling nine furlongs over the inner turf at the Belmont at the Big A fall meet. The gutsy neck score earned the daughter of Siyouni a career-best 91 Beyer Speed Figure.
“She came out the race good. She’s had some frustrating trips, so it was a deserving win yesterday,” said Brown.
Love And Thunder entered the Athenia from four consecutive on-the-board efforts, including a win in a second-level optional claimer in May at Belmont Park. She finished third in both the Perfect Sting at Belmont and the Fasig-Tipton De La Rose at Saratoga Race Course in her two starts prior to the Athenia, struggling with troubled trips and coming up just 1 1/4 lengths and 1 1/2 lengths shy, respectively.
Brown said the bay mare, who entered his barn last April after beginning her career in Europe, has shown steady improvement over the past year and a half.
“She has really matured a lot,” Brown said. “She can be a little fiery to gallop in the mornings, but we’re very proud of her. She’s settled down quite a bit and my team has done a great job with her. She’s always been a nice filly, but she’s been unlucky more than anything.”
Brown, who also saddled Athenia third-place finisher Kalifornia Queen, added that he is still weighing his options for Love And Thunder’s next start.
Promising juvenile Blazing Sevens had his final breeze Sunday in preparation for the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne on October 1 at the Big A. The son of Brown alumnus Good Magic, the 2017 Champion 2-Year-Old Colt, coasted through five furlongs in 1:01.60 over Saratoga’s Oklahoma training track.
“He’s been training good. He had his final work at Saratoga this morning and he’ll ship down tomorrow,” said Brown.
Blazing Sevens, who earned an 84 Beyer for his debut maiden score on July 24 at the Spa, was last seen finishing a distant but improving third in the Grade 1 Hopeful on September 5, finishing 12 lengths in arrears of the victorious Forte over sloppy and sealed going. He will stretch out to a mile for the first time in the Champagne, which offers a “Win and You’re In” berth to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November at Keeneland.
Also on the tab this weekend for Brown was 2021 Grade 1 Acorn-winner Search Results, who was last seen finishing a game second to reigning Champion 3-Year-Old Filly Malathaat in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on August 27 at the Spa. The daughter of Flatter breezed a half-mile in 48.49 seconds over the Oklahoma training track Saturday.
Search Results, who earned graded wins this year in the Grade 2 Ruffian at Belmont and Grade 3 Molly Pitcher at Monmouth Park, will now turn her attention to the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff on November 5 at Keeneland.
“She’s doing super and we’re planning right now on just training up to the Breeders’ Cup,” said Brown. “She ran very well in defeat, and she’s really been very consistent. She ran a super race [in the Personal Ensign] and it took a really good horse to beat her. We’re very proud of her.”
This year’s Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Fall Sale, which features a catalogue of 235 weanlings, broodmares and broodmare prospects, is scheduled for Monday, October 17 at 10 a.m. at the Humphrey S. Finney Pavillion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
NYRA Press Office
Main photo: Love And Thunder scores the win in the Grade 3 Athenia (NYRA/Coglianese)
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