Takeover Target hits Hall of Fame bullseye for Brown

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

August 7th, 2015

With four of the 11 starters in Friday's $200,000 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga, it came as no surprise that trainer Chad Brown reached the winner's circle following the 1 1/16-mile grass test for three-year-olds. He made it, however, with first-time stakes winner Takeover Target, ridden to perfection by Irad Ortiz Jr.

Saving ground while rating a couple lengths behind Sailthehighseas through splits of :24.12, :49.13, and 1:13.53, Takeover Target was angled to an outside path at the top of the stretch and ultimately wore down the Bill Mott-trained pair of A Lot and Courtier to post a half-length victory in a time of 1:42 on firm ground.

Brown's other entrants did not fare well: Startup Nation was fifth; Winter Springs, making his U.S. debut, was sixth; and morning-line favorite Night Prowler trailed the field.

The betting on the Brown quartet was rather interesting. While Winter Springs was justifiably dismissed, it was Startup Nation and Takeover Target that were bet down from their morning lines, with Night Prowler, a two-time graded stakes winner and narrow loser of the Penn Mile (G3) in his most recent start, a relatively cold 5-1 at post time.

Startup Nation was sent off as the mild 3-1 favorite based on his two-for-two record at Saratoga and his recent third in the Belmont Derby (G1), but it was 4-1 second choice Takeover Target that proved best. A homebred son of Harlan's Holiday racing for Klaravich Stable and Bill Lawrence, Takeover Target paid $10.40 to win.

As noted, this was Takeover Target's first stakes win and all of his previous starts had come at Belmont. A debut winner over yielding ground at last October, he returned to action May 7 and prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths in a first-level allowance. Part of a favored entry with Startup Nation in the $200,000 Pennine Ridge later that month, he was caught late by American Turf (G2) winner Divisidero.

Last time, in the Belmont Derby, Takeover Target raced evenly in fifth and sixth throughout the 1 1/4-mile test, offering little in the way of a challenge to impressive winner Force the Pass, a candidate for next week's Secretariat (G1) at Arlington. Not exactly being 10-furlong horses, the Brown contingent perhaps wisely sidestepped a rematch with that rival for this prize.

Takeover Target, and stablemates, might take aim at the $300,000 Saranac (G3) over nine furlongs on September 5, although Brown could send one to the $250,000 Del Mar Derby (G2) the following day. The $500,000 Hill Prince (G3) at Belmont on October 3 is another possible long-term for some of these.

Runner-up A Lot ran his usual good race, but has now lost three stakes by narrow margins this year. His lone black-type win this term was in the $100,000 Paradise Creek in mid-May.

Courtier was making his first start since January and was probably in need of a race. He tracked in second most of the way, made a brief lead in mid-stretch, and weakened late to miss by a length. A Juddmonte homebred by Pioneerof the Nile, Courtier figures to be a stronger threat in any potential rematch with the top pair.

(Takeover Target photo: Chelsea Durand/Adam Coglianese Photography)