Chad Brown brings two for Pennine Ridge Stakes

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

May 31st, 2019

The $200,000 Pennine Ridge Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park is a young race, with its inaugural run in 2014, but already has found a productive place on the racing calendar.

The 1 1/8-mile event, scheduled for June 1 this year, was created to serve as an annual springboard to the $1 million in July at Belmont Park and has lived up to expectations. The last two Pennine Ridge winners (Oscar Performance in 2017 and Catholic Boy in 2018) came right back to triumph in the Belmont Derby, and in 2014 Mr Speaker rebounded from a fifth-place finish in the Pennine Ridge to upset the Belmont Derby.

It seems safe to conclude a serious Belmont Derby contender or two will emerge from the 2019 Pennine Ridge, which has attracted eight starters. The stakes winners #5 Clint Maroon, #7 Seismic Wave and #8 Henley’s Joy are among the most accomplished entrants on paper, but handicappers are just as likely to focus their attention on the -trained colts #1 Value Proposition and #3 Demarchelier.

Considering how many high-class turf races Brown has won, it is odd that he has yet to win the Belmont Derby. Perhaps his dry spell in Belmont's premiere 3-year-old turf race has been foreshadowed by Brown’s semi-frustrating results in the Pennine Ridge, where his runners have gone just 1-for-7.

But in Value Proposition and Demarchelier, Brown has a pair of lightly raced up-and-comers with bright futures. Value Proposition is the 5-2 morning line favorite for after he rallied to a decisive 4 1/4-length victory in his debut at Belmont on April 27. Demarchelier narrowly broke his maiden on debut at Aqueduct during the fall and returned to win an April 12 allowance race at Keeneland.

Both colts are stepping up in class for the Pennine Ridge, and they’ll need to improve to handle the proven stakes winners and #4 Social Paranoia, who missed by less than a length in the May 4 American Turf Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs. Social Paranoia was defeated in the American Turf by Brown’s lightly raced 8-1 shot Digital Age (yet another contender for the Belmont Derby), so we’ve already seen how Brown’s 3-year-old turf runners can step up and beat quality horses even when they’re in deep on paper.

Are you planning to watch and wager on the Pennine Ridge Stakes? It’s the eighth race of the afternoon, with an approximate post time of 5:18 p.m. ET. Enjoy the race!