Saratoga Diary: Chad Brown ties record
by Dick Powell
The last Friday of the meet was a perfect, cloudy day with temperatures in the 70s. The humidity has left town, temporarily, and I wore a long-sleeve shirt. The main track was listed as fast, the inner turf course was good with the rail out at 18 feet and the Mellon turf course was good with the rail out at 12 feet.
The Chad Brown show began in Race 1 when half-favorite CHICLET’S DREAM won by eight lengths against New York-bred maiden special weight fillies and mares. Javier Castellano gave her the perfect inside/outside trip going 1 1/16 miles on the inner turf course. The final time of 1:44.38 showed that there is still some give in the ground from the rain two nights ago.
Race 2 had Chad Brown dropdown APARTFROMTHECROWD go all the way down to $16K for the first time and he was a game winner going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Rudy Rodriguez took the winner and he could bring him back against starter allowance foes at Belmont Park.
Race 3 was a New York-bred maiden $25,000 claimer going six furlongs on the main track. David Cohen continues to ride the main track well as he brought ONE MORE TOM from the back of the pack to win going away at almost 6-1. The winner added blinkers but it didn’t help him show any gate speed.
Race 4 was a stirring battle between Joel Rosario aboard CANDY STORE down on the inside and Irad Ortiz Jr. aboard Rymska on the outside. Rymska took the lead in the stretch of the one-mile turf race on the inner turf course for optional $80,000 claimers. For some reason, Ortiz only hand rode Rymska through the lane and Rosario was working hard on Candy Store, who came back on the inside to win by a nose at almost 9-1 for Christophe Clement.
Race 5 was a turf sprint for juvenile filly maiden special weights. Jorge Abreu, who has had a sensational meet, had first-time starter STELLAR AGENT ready to go and the daughter of More than Ready overcame being carried wide in the stretch to win at 13-1. She hadn’t shown much in her workouts but Abreu wins 21 percent with his debut runners and she definitely had the pedigree. Unfortunately, she opened at 7-1 and went off as almost twice that price. Manny Franco rode the winner.
Race 6 was a seven-furlong dirt sprint for $16,000 claimers and Luis Saez and SCARF IT DOWN was allowed to set the pace through a first quarter-mile in a dawdling :24.08. The race was essentially over and, even though narrow favorite Divine Interventio made a strong challenge in the stretch, Saez had too much left to win it by three parts of a length in 1:23.38.
Race 7 was an ordinary run-of-the-mill six-furlong maiden special weight event for fillies and mares but it turned out to be historic as Chad Brown won his record-tying 40th race of the meet with BIG BIRTHDAY by 3 1/2 lengths over Smile More. The winner could not make up ground last out in a wide trip on a speed-favoring main track and Javier Castellano broke her better today and she was much the best.
I thought a couple of weeks ago that Brown had a chance for 50 wins and even though that seems unlikely now, he is loaded the last three racing days. The record was set in 2016 by Brown and tied last year by Todd Pletcher. Now, it is only a matter of how high he raises the bar.
Race 8 was a first-level allowance dirt sprint going six furlongs. Catoria was a 24-1 upset winner here four weeks ago and it looked like she might do it again when she opened up a clear lead at 12-1 but could not hold off the determined rally of SPECIAL RELATIVITY, who came off the rail to find running room turning for home. It was another win on the dirt, at a nice price, for David Cohen.
Race 9 was the Lucky Coin Stakes, a turf sprint for older horses. Speedy Rocket Heat was wiped out at the start and that left EXTRAVAGANT KID on the lead with Pocket Change pressing on the outside. Jose Ortiz dueled with brother Irad Ortiz Jr. and he never let him go by to win it at 9-2.
Saturday’s Woodward Stakes (G1) attracted a field of 14 and a clean trip is a must. TAPWRIT (#4) is an in-and-out horse who had no shot in the Whitney Stakes (G1) chasing a loose-on-the-lead Diversify. The track was sealed twice that day when crazy thunderstorms hit the area before the race and whatever chance last year’s Belmont Stakes (G1) winner had was lost as speed was unbeatable. Johnny Velazquez rides back for Todd Pletcher.