ELMONT, N.Y. – Four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Chad Brown saddled Pocket Square and Miss Teheran to a one-two finish in Saturday’s Grade 3, $200,000 Athenia, a nine-furlong inner turf test for fillies and mares 3-years-old and up at Belmont.
The victory provided Brown with his 100th graded stakes win at Belmont Park, joining Hall of Famers Todd Pletcher and Shug McGaughey as the only conditioners to reach the century mark of graded stakes wins at Belmont.
Juddmonte homebred Pocket Square, with Irad Ortiz, Jr. up, rated in fourth outside rivals before advancing wide through the turn and powering home a 2 1/2-length winner, garnering a 92 Beyer. She paid $2.90 as the odds-on favorite.
Pocket Square, a 4-year-old Night of Thunder chestnut, entered from a 4 1/4-length optional-claiming win traveling nine furlongs on the Saratoga Race Course turf on August 25.
“I’m really pleased with how she came out of the race and I’m really happy the way she’s put a couple of nice wins together now – impressive wins,” Brown said. “We have her back on track. We’ve always thought a lot of her.”
Pocket Square, sixth in her lone sophomore start in the Group 3 Musidora at York, was a Group 3-winner as a juvenile in France for her former conditioner Roger Charlton. She notched a debut win for Brown in a 1 1/16-mile Keeneland allowance tilt in April and followed with back-to-back fifth place finishes in Grade 1 company in the one-mile Longines Just a Game in June at Belmont and the nine-furlong Diana in August at Saratoga.
Brown said he left the Athenia trip in the capable hands of Ortiz, Jr.
“I certainly wanted her to stay out of trouble as the heavy favorite in a short field, so I did leave it up to Irad,” Brown said. “He knew what he had and he had a plan. Irad has really focused on trying to get to know this horse. He has a terrific record on her. He’s ridden her so well. He’s been very helpful with the development of her over here.”
Brown said he may have rushed Pocket Square into her recent Grade 1 efforts but that the filly’s recent efforts are encouraging.
“Now that I’ve had a chance to regroup and given her a couple of easier races, she’s shown the ability we saw over the winter,” Brown said. “It’s probably time now to step into a higher-level race again. I’m not sure where or when yet, but her training will guide us.”
Brown said he spoke with Juddmonte general manager Garrett O’Rourke following the race and would even consider stretching Pocket Square out in distance.
“It did strike me yesterday when she stormed to the front and kicked on to the wire and beyond that this filly can run further than I originally thought of her when I started this campaign in the spring at Keeneland,” Brown said. “She looked the part potentially of a miler on form when she came over here.
“I saw something yesterday when she got to the wire and on out that she seemed steady and strong as she kept going out,” Brown added. “I wouldn’t be afraid to try her longer distances. I wouldn’t have thought of that in the spring or earlier in the summer, but your opinion can change if they develop, certainly.”
Miss Teheran rallied from the back of the pack under Manny Franco to complete the Athenia exacta but was pulled up in the gallop out and provided a precautionary ride home in the equine ambulance.
“Unfortunately, she bled in the race. It’s uncharacteristic for her. We’ll have to regroup with her and figure out her future,” Brown said.
Swift Thoroughbreds, Madaket Stables and Wonder Stables’ Tamahere romped gate-to-wire in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Violet at Monmouth Park contested over yielding turf.
The victory, which garnered a career-best 104 Beyer, was the 4-year-old Wootton Bassett filly’s first win since the one-mile Grade 2 Sands Point in October at Belmont in her North American debut, following a trio of starts in her native France.
Tamahere with Jockey Jose Ferrer riding won the $100,000 Violet Stakes at Monmouth Park on Saturday. Photo By Tara Schwinn/ EQUI-PHOTO
Tamahere entered the Violet from a pacesetting fourth in the Grade 2 Ballston Spa in August at Saratoga.
“It’s nice to get her back on track. Obviously, she’s been really keen in her races,” Brown said. “Her year didn’t quite go as we planned based on how we started her career over here with an impressive off-the-pace win in the Sands Point, but she’s definitely had some difficulties since then and some keen situations and such and been a little inconsistent.
“It was nice to let her cruise along on the lead at Monmouth,” he added. “She certainly loved the course.”
Klaravich Stables’ McKulick and e Five Thoroughbreds’ Kinchen worked five-eighths in company Sunday on the Belmont inner turf in 1:02.09 in preparation for Saturday’s Grade 2 Miss Grillo, a 1 1/16-mile turf test for juvenile fillies.
McKulick, by Frankel and out of the Makfi mare Astrelle, graduated on debut in a 1 1/6-mile turf maiden on August 8 at Saratoga with Ortiz, Jr. up.
Kinchen, by Lope de Vega and out of the Galileo mare Miss Nouriya, rallied to finish second in her August 29 debut at 1 1/16 miles on the Saratoga turf under Tyler Gaffalione.
My Sister Nat [1:00.80] and Orglandes [1:00.40] breezed five-eighths in company on the inner turf in preparation for Sunday’s Grade 3 Fasig-Tipton Waya at 11 furlongs on the inner turf.
“They both went super,” Brown said.
Peter Brant’s My Sister Nat, a Group 3-winner in France, won last year’s Waya when it was contested at 12-furlongs on the Saratoga turf. The 6-year-old Acclamation bay sports a record of 19-3-7-5 with purse earnings of $660,672.
Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael J. Caruso’s Orglandes, a 5-year-old French-bred daughter of Le Havre, won the Grade 3 Red Carpet Handicap in November at Del Mar. She has finished sixth in a pair of Grade 2 starts this year in the Sheepshead Bay in May at Belmont and the Glens Falls in August at the Spa.
Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister’s promising Grade 1 Champagne aspirant Jack Christopher breezed five-eighths in company with sophomore maiden winner Pipeline in 1:00 flat Saturday on the main track.
Jack Christopher breaking his maiden at Saratoga under Jose Ortiz on August 28. (NYRA/Coglianese)
“Two nice horses there. They both came out of it well,” Brown said. “He’s [Jack Christopher] on target for the Champagne. Pipeline I’m considering waiting and running him in the Perryville at Keeneland later in the meet. He just broke his maiden but his figures are so fast, I’d like to see how the race comes up.”
Jack Christopher, a Munnings chestnut who was purchased for $135,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale, registered a 92 Beyer for a his 8 3/4-length debut score in a six-furlong maiden special weight on August 28 at Saratoga.
John Gunther and Eurowest Bloodstock Services’ Pipeline, by Speightstown and out of the Empire Maker mare Vivo Per Lei, graduated at fourth asking in a seven-furlong maiden tilt on September 4 at Saratoga. The bay colt’s 3 1/4-length score matched a career-best 97 Beyer.
Klaravich Stables’ Domestic Spending worked five-eighths on the inner turf in 1:01.52 in company with Rockemperor [1:01.45].
Domestic Spending, a three-time Grade 1-winner, finished second last out in the Grade 1 Mr. D. on August 14 at Arlington Park. Brown said the 4-year-old Kingman gelding is likely to make his next start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf in November at Del Mar.
“I’m going train him [Domestic Spending] to the Breeders’ Cup and I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Rockemperor yet,” Brown said.
Domestic Spending took the Resorts World Casino Manhattan S. Grade 1 by 2 ¾ lengths under Flavien Prat at Belmont on June 5. (Joe Labozzetta)
Technical Analysis breezed five-eighths in 1:02.65 on the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 1 QEII Challenge Cup on October 16 at Keeneland.
“She breezed really good this morning,” Brown said.
Public Sector [1:02.11] and Sifting Sands [1:02.08] breezed five-eighths in company on the inner turf in preparation for the Grade 2, $400,000 Hill Prince, a nine-furlong turf test for sophomores on October 23 at Belmont.
Klaravich Stables’ Gerrymander worked a half-mile in 48.77 on the Belmont main track Sunday in preparation for next Sunday’s Grade 1 Frizette against a tough field led by Echo Zulu for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Gerrymander, a 2-year-old Into Mischief bay, garnered a 73 Beyer in her second-out maiden score sprinting six furlongs on the Saratoga main track on August 29.
“I know that’s a tough spot but she broke her maiden and I want to try her at a mile,” Brown said. “I like the way the horse is training but she’s going to have to really step up. This is a really strong race. Asmussen’s filly is in there and I think she’s the best 2-year-old dirt filly I’ve seen run, so everyone has their work cut out for them.”
Klaravich Stables’ Portfolio Company breezed a half-mile in 49.05 on the Belmont main track.
Brown said the 2-year-old Kitten’s Joy colt, runner-up last out in the Grade 3 With Anticipation, has been training with a new bit and will be piloted by Joel Rosario in the Grade 2 Pilgrim.
“He had a little work on the dirt today and it thought he went well,” Brown said. “I just put a different bit on him for a little more control.”
NYRA Press Office
Photo: Pocket Square winning the Athenia. (Chelsea Durand)