The Rise of Trainer Chad Brown

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D.S. Williamson

December 6th, 2016

Chad Brown has become one of the premier trainers in the United States. A former assistant to the late, great, Bobby Frankel, Brown has established himself as the guy to go to if you want to win races on the turf. Frankel was much the same way. But in 2017, Brown might have a true three-year-old contender for the Kentucky Derby. Before getting to that, let's take a look at 3 horses that put Chad Brown on the map.




Stephanie's Kitten

Owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Stephanie's Kitten might be the most famous horse that Chad Brown has ever trained. She won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf in 2011. In 2014, Stephanie's Kitten finished second in the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. She won the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf in 2015. Stephanie's Kitten earned close to $4.3M during her career.

Lady Eli

Lady Eli was on death's doorstep the Summer of 2015. She had a hoof problem. It appeared for at least a week that Sheep Pond Partners was going to lose the greatest racehorse that they had ever owned. But, Lady Eli bounced back to be as good in 2016 as she had been in 2014 when she won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. It took a gargantuan performance by Queen's Trust to nip Lady Eli in the 2016 Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf. Lady Eli will race in 2017. That's good news for horse racing fans.

Awesome Feather

Owned by Stronach Stables, Awesome Feather might be the most famous dirt horse that Chad has ever trained. She finished her career with 10 wins from 11 starts. The 1 loss occurred in the 2012 Breeders' Cup Distaff won by Royal Delta. Before that, Awesome Feather had been undefeated. As of 2016, Awesome Feather, along with Wavell Avenue who won the BC Filly and Mare Sprint, are the only 2 horses that Chad Brown has ever trained to win Breeders' Cup Races over dirt. Awesome Feather won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Is Practical Joke Chad's Derby Horse?

He could be. First, he can run all day. Practical Joke's sire is Into Mischief, who was sired by Harlan's Holiday. On his dam's side, the name Distorted Humor pops up. Practical Joke won't have any issues with either the 1 1/4 miles of the Kentucky Derby or the 1 1/2 miles of the Belmont Stakes.

The horse is also talented. Going into the 2016 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Practical Joke had won 3 races in a row, including overcoming a bad start in the Grade 1 Champagne to take it over the highly-touted Syndergaard. What's truly impressive about Practical Joke is how the horse never quits. Although not at the level of Classic Empire and Not This Time in the BC Juvenlie, he fought hard throughout the entire race.

Fighting hard is an intangible that many Kentucky Derby winners, think Nyquist and California Chrome, have shown in recent years. One more thing to note about Practical Joke, and this could be the real reason why he might be Chad's best chance at a Derby win, well, ever is that Joke's gotten faster with every race. He was faster winning the Grade 1 Champagne than he was breaking his maiden. He was faster winning the Grade 1 Hopeful than he was winning the Grade 1 Champagne. He was even faster when finishing third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile than he was when winning the Champagne.

With some luck and continued improvement, Practical Joke could be that Derby horse that Chad Brown has been waiting for.