The Real Chad Brown: It’s all about the team

February 3, 2021

Chad Brown-trained Cloud Computing won the 2017 Preakness and received the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans with winning jockey Javier Castellano up wearing Klaravich Stables’ colors. (Creative Commons/Maryland Governor’s Office)

By Maribeth Kalinich and Rachel Bucciacchio 

Chad Brown is a four-time Outstanding Trainer Eclipse Award winner, with ten Eclipse winners from his stable. He was an apprentice of Shug McGaughey, assistant to Bobby Frankel and is a Cornell graduate. These are all achievements which apply to Chad Brown; however, he would tell you they do not define him. 

Yes, Chad has had many successes and many good horses but that’s not his secret sauce. He genuinely cares about his horses and connects with the owners.

Watching each horse’s progression, recognizing individual characteristics and levels of maturity as well as personality and mindset. Every horse is different. (And then they grow up!).

Brown works closely with owners and has earned their respect and loyalty—owners such as Peter Brant and Seth Klarman. They are also part of Brown’s team. Chad’s team defines him more than anything. 

Brown trains top horses and wins many big stakes races. Not because he is lucky and not because he’s “clever.” He is just that good. In addition, being good as a top-tier Thoroughbred trainer, means many things. 

You need to be smart, organized and hard working. It takes logistics—a team of assistant trainers—Jose Hernandez and Whit Beckman, exercise riders, grooms and hotwalkers to travel to several tracks for various meets. Brown decides with owners where best to run their horses and off they go. With Office Manager Asia Savasta back at the homestead to keep the business end humming. 

Brown and assistant watch morning workouts Photo Credit: Susie Raisher

He has to read the rules of racing and condition books in every jurisdiction in which his horses run. Monitoring everything remotely, Brown still must abide by the Absolute Insurer Rule as the trainer of record. He will tell you he is for a clean sport with the strictest drug standards. In fact, Brown is adamant about it. 

As a water, hay and oats supporter, Chad Brown prefers a natural, relaxed manner of training. Chad believes horses respond better when they have good, but simple nutrition and are stress-free. 

Although his statistics are most admirable they are a reflection of the aforementioned team work and commitment to the sport. 

From stars to starters

In 2019, Brown won 20 Grade I races, 15 Grade IIs and 19 Grade IIIs. Although his numbers were down in 2020, they were still quite admirable. 

Chad Brown won 12 Grade I stakes in 2020 with 11 different horses. The Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes with Digital Age (IRE), E. P. Taylor Stakes with Etoile (FR); Diana Stakes with Rushing Fall, Manhattan Stakes with Instilled Regard; First Lady S. Presented by UK HealthCare with Uni (GB); Coolmore Jenny Wiley Stakes with Rushing Fall; Matriarch Stakes with Viadera (GB), American Oaks with Duopoly; Hollywood Derby with Domestic Spending (GB); Shoemaker Mile Stakes with Raging Bull (FR); Just a Game Stakes with Newspaperofrecord (IRE); and, Madison Stakes with Guarana. 

In addition, he won five Grade II races and 15 Grade IIIs.

Winning the 2019 Eclipse Award, Brown had a stable full of stars. This year, he has a stable full of starters. Colts and fillies with one race under their belts, most with placings on the board waiting to break their maidens, some a win waiting to move up in class. 

Brown told Bloodhorse:

 “We’re rebuilding. It’s difficult but we have to move forward. A good friend told me it only takes one or two special horses to make it a great season and we’ve been able to do that each year,” Brown said. “If you want to coach at the top you have to believe there’s another good set of recruits coming in and you’ll get some new stars. It’s the same thing here. Some years, you get those stars; some years you don’t. Fortunately for us most years there have been new stars, but you can’t take that for granted.”

With seven horses who ran and hit the board at Aqueduct, Gulfstream and Tampa Bay over last weekend—several 3-year-olds—Brown and his owners, and the fans, got a good look at their charges. 

Currently in training, Crowded Trade, campaigned by Klaravich, breezed 4 furlongs in :47.66 at Belmont. 

Seth Klarman (left) and Chad Brown on opening day at Saratoga 2019. (NYRA/Coglianese)

Domain Expertise moved up in class to graded stakes company in the Sweetest Chant G3 at Gulfstream on the turf. The 3-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy broke her maiden Dec. 5, 2020 but fell flat in the Selima at Pimlico last October. She put in a very game effort to hit the board third in the Grade III and is now graded stakes placed with a record of 3: 1-1-1. 

Also on the turf Saturday at Gulfstream, Ariston was to make his first start but was a scratch. The 3-year-old son of Flatter out of Street Sense mare S S Pinafore is owned by Christine and Phil Hatfield. 

After placing second at Aqueduct in December at one mile on dirt, Peter Brant’s Teetotaler broke her maiden Saturday. The Uncle Mo filly ran a MSW mile on dirt to take the first place share of the $70,000 purse.

Also at Aqueduct, 5-year-old New York-bred Golani Brigade started in an AOC on the dirt in a six furlongs sprint and hit the board third. The Maclean’s Music gelding is campaigned by D. J. Stables LLC and is a career 6: 2-0-2. 

Mystic Night, son of Into Mischief out of the Bernardini mare Secret Jewel, nailed his first win in three starts with an off-the-pace style on the turf. The 4-year-old gelding is owned by Peter Brant and Three Chimneys. 

At Tampa Bay, Irish filly Rastafara lost by a nose to another Irish lass, Captivance, who paid $17.60 for the win. The daughter of Shamardal out of Blame mare Tutu Nguru is campaigned by Peter Brant. 

Sunday, St. Joe Louis (GB), a 4-year-old Kingman (GB) colt out of Montjue (IRE) mare Smart Step (GB), placed second in his first start at Tampa Bay for Peter Brant.

Golden Plume, a 3-year-old Juddmonte homebred filly, easily came from the back to win by six lengths on her first start on the turf. The daughter of Candy Ride (ARG) out of Storm Cat mare Nebraska Tornado looks like a formidable prospect.

Brown receiving the 2018 H. Allen Jerkens Award for Leading Training at Saratoga (NYRA/Coglianese) 

Brown’s Roots

Brown has a diverse background—from books to backstretch. Growing up in Mechanicville N.Y., Brown frequently attended the summer meet at nearby Saratoga Race Course with his family. During high school Brown got his first experience around horses working with Standardbred trainer Paul Kelley at Saratoga Raceway. 

While a student at Cornell University, he was heading toward a career as a veterinarian. Brown worked summers for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey. Brown had decided that he would rather train horses and to continue to work for McGaughey after he graduated from Cornell.

After accepting an internship with a veterinarian, Brown had an opportunity to work for Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel in 2002. Brown earned promotions in Frankel’s high-profile operation. While handling a division for Frankel, he decided he had the confidence to go out on his own. In November 2007, Brown started with a stable of ten horses.

Grand Lady gave Brown his very first win at Churchill Downs Nov. 18, 2007. Since then, Brown has had a meteoric rise to national prominence, beginning with Star Player, the first horse he started at his home track of Saratoga in 2008. He won his first graded stakes, the Miss Grillo GIII, with Maram at Belmont in 2008 for owners Karen Woods and Prince Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud. 
In 2011, Brown earned his first Grade I victory and trained his first champion, Stacelita (FR), winner of the Beverly D. Stakes and Flower Bowl Invitational. This 5-year-old French mare had won her first six starts but was up and down thereafter. Brown gave her a GI streak. He also finished a respectable 16th nationally with $5.2 million in purse earnings.

Zagora (FR) would kick it up a notch in 2012. The daughter of Green Tune out of the Mtoto (GB) mare Zaneton (FR) had won five graded races including the Diana GI in 2011. The surprising 5-year-old French mare came back in 2012 to win the Hillsborough, Gallorette, Endeavor—all GIIIs—and Ballston Spa GII before giving Brown the biggest win of his career—his first Breeders’ Cup. Zagora was the winner of the Breeders’ Cup  Filly & Mare Turf.

Both French mares flourished in Brown’s barn off the back of very successful European turf campaigns winning Group 1 races.

Chad Brown’s first horse to run in the Kentucky Derby was Normandy Invasion in 2013 who finished a good fourth.

Having won races such as the Arlington Million and Sword Dancer Stakes, Brown’s biggest weekend of racing in his career so far came on 2014 Breeders’ Cup day, where his horses won three races, including Lady Eli’s win in the Juvenile Fillies, Bobby’s Kitten in the Turf Sprint and Dayatthespa in the Filly & Mare Turf, with Brown’s other filly, Stephanie’s Kitten running second.

In 2015, he won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint with Wavell Avenue. Stephanie’s Kitten redeemed herself from the previous year with her victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Picking up his third win in the Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2016 with New Money Honey, his fourth in 2017 was with Rushing Fall, who was his ninth Breeders’ Cup winner overall. Brown was not finished at the 2017 Breeders’ Cup. His colt Good Magic scored an upset win in the Sentient Jet Juvenile to become a leading Kentucky Derby prospect.

After the 2016 season, Chad Brown received his first Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer. 

Not resting on his laurels in 2017, Brown won his first American classic race when Cloud Computing captured the 142nd Preakness Stakes. 

When asked what this victory meant, Brown told Pastthewire “It was very satisfying. Winning a classic was a great accomplishment for the horse and our team.” He continued, “It was very rewarding to see owner Seth Klarman come full circle and win this classic where he began, in Baltimore. It’s a big race in Baltimore, too [where Klarman grew up].” 

Klarman, the co-owner of Cloud Computing, formed Klaravich Stables in 1993 in Baltimore with his friend, Jeff Ravich. They bought and raced horses together for about a decade in the east until Ravich left the racing end of the partnership to start his own stable on the West Coast.

 Chad Brown, who won the 2017 Preakness Stakes with Cloud Computing, second leg of the Triple Crown, and joyfully hoists the trophy. (Eric Kalet) 

After the Preakness win and a successful year, Brown repeated as the Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer after once again leading all North American trainers in earnings. 

Eleven different Grade I winners represented Brown in 2017. His top earner was Arlington Million winner and Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf runner-up, Beach Patrol, with $1,749,975.

In 2018, Brown would finish second in the Kentucky Derby with Good Magic, who later won the Haskell Invitational Stakes. 

Never having won the Kentucky Derby or the Belmont, when asked which he felt more important, special to win, Brown mentioned neither classic. He was quick to emphatically respond “the Travers” at his home track of Saratoga. The race still eludes him. 

Brown did win Grade I races in 2018 with Sistercharlie, Fourstar Crook, A Raving Beauty, Robert Bruce, Rushing Fall, Separationofpowers, Wow Cat, Complexity and Funtastic. 

Extending his record of dominance in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs, Newspaperofrecord rolled to a front-running runaway victory. The win was the third straight in the Juvenile Fillies Turf for Brown, the fourth in five years, and his fifth win in the race overall.

On Breeders’ Cup Saturday of the same year, Brown scored with Sistercharlie for his fourth win in the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Brown also trained third-place getter, A Raving Beauty.

Two days after winning the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer for the third consecutive time, Brown celebrated on Jan. 26, 2019, at a rain-soaked Gulfstream Park when Bricks and Mortar took the inaugural running of the $7 million Pegasus World Turf Cup Invitational, the richest grass race in North America. Bricks and Mortar was a perfect 5-for-5.

On Future Stars Friday at the 2019 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Brown netted his 13th career win in the event when Structor closed resolutely to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Presented by Coolmore America, giving Brown his first win in that race. 

The next day, Brown enjoyed another day of firsts. He picked up his first win in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile when Uni rallied powerfully to prevail. Brown then earned his first win in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf with Bricks and Mortar, future Eclipse Horse of the Year. 

At the top of the game

Brown surpassed the previous North American earnings record of Todd Pletcher ($28,116,097 in 2007) with purse earnings of $31,112,144 in 2019. He was honored, yet again at the Eclipse Awards with a fourth consecutive trophy as Outstanding Trainer.

Chad Brown trains a lot of horses, and wins. It takes a team. With an organized, knowledgeable leader. 

As Frankel’s assistant, Brown learned discipline and tenacity from the master of the turf. As a result, Chad Brown has become a turf specialist in his own right. 

Bobby Frankel, Legend

Brown said “Bobby taught me how to manage. He told me to observe other trainers, adapt, change.” He added, “Shug gave me a good foundation with younger horses, 2-year-olds.”

Chad Brown passes on what he’s learned. Jorge Abreu, a former Chad Brown assistant, took out his trainer’s license in 2016 and now oversees a significant stable with 30 horses at Belmont and another 10 training at Saratoga. Abreu enjoyed a solid 2020 Saratoga summer meet with a record of 32: 10-6-2. While winning at a 31 percent clip he led the meet by his first stakes score of the year in the Yaddo with Myhartblongstodady. Abreu also ran Liveyourbeastlife in the Preakness Stakes.

Cherie DeVaux spent eight years as a senior assistant to Brown, walking into the winners’ circle with champions such as Lady Eli, Dacita, Wake Forest, Flintshire, Zagora. DeVaux went out on her own in the spring 2018 and has been a success in her own name with a career record of 213 starts: 22-36-28 with earnings of $1,726,953 including multiple graded stakes placed runners. 

On Thursday, January 28, 2021, the Brown-trainee Rushing Fall was presented the Eclipse Award for Turf Female Champion. A testament to Chad Brown’s success but, also, to his love of the horses and commitment to the owners. 

“It’s great to have our horses recognized, our owners, our team. These horses have a special place and this is the culmination of their work, the owner’s commitment. It shows how difficult the process is and we are very appreciative. Rushing Fall is a special horse and she is our 11th Eclipse winner.” 

When asked to describe his 13-year career in one word, Brown said “Grateful.”

Note: Special indeed, also considering Rushing Fall was sold at the Fasig-Tipton November Sale in 2020 for $5,500,000 to Coolmore.

Chad Brown at a Glance:

Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile Fillies Turf

(2008, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018)

Breeders’ Cup  Filly & Mare Turf

(2012, 2014, 2015, 2018)

Breeders’ Cup  Turf Sprint (2014)

Breeders’ Cup  Filly & Mare Sprint (2015)

Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile (2017)

Breeders’ Cup  Juvenile Turf (2019)

Breeders’ Cup  Mile (2019)

Breeders’ Cup  Turf (2019)

Multiple winners in Grade 1 Stakes races such as the Flower Bowl Invitational, Secretariat Stakes, Manhattan Handicap, Belmont Oaks and Champagne Stakes.

Stacelita – American Champion Turf Female, 2011 

Zagora – American Champion Turf Female, 2012 

Dayatthespa – American Champion Turf Female, 2014

Big Blue Kitten  – American Champion Male Horse, 2015 

Flintshire – American Champion Turf Male, 2016 

Good Magic  – American Champion Two Year Old Male, 2017

Lady Eli  – American Champion Turf Female, 2017

Sistercharlie  – American Champion Turf Female, 2018

Bricks and Mortar – American Champion Turf Male & Horse of the Year, 2019 

Rushing Fall  – American Champion  Turf Female, 2020

All Stats

The authors and Past the Wire would like to extend a sincere thank you to Chad Brown for his generosity during the writing of this piece. 

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Contributing Authors

MB Kalinich

Maribeth Kalinich is a racing enthusiast and historian who writes about current racing events, Thoroughbred history and preservation of historic racing sites. Growing up in...

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