Watch Out, Here Comes Chad Brown and Flexibility

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D.S. Williamson

January 3rd, 2016

Just like that Chad Brown has a horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. In only his fourth lifetime race, the son of Bluegrass Cat dominated his 7 rivals in the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

Winning the Jerome didn't automatically make Flexibility a contender for the Run for the Roses. It was how he won it, who is connections are, and his breeding that made him such an attractive contender to keep an eye on.

How Flexibility won - A lot of horseplayers will say that Flexibility got the perfect trip. In a way he did. Many more will say that he was supposed to beat the field. He was. Flexibility went off at 1 to 2. But at this point on the road to the Derby, it's more important to find talented horses that are easy to handle. It's not hard to find talented horses. Materiality had a ton of talent last year but there was a huge question as to whether or not the horse would be easy to handle. Flexibility started out this race by running between two horses. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., whom I predict to win more big races than any other jockey in North America in 2016, took Flexibility to the rail. Then, within the blink of an eye it seemed, Irad had Flexibility right with the three front runners. From there, it was all over.

Flexibility's connections - Chad Brown trains for Kalaravich Stables Inc. Brown was the second trainer by earnings won in 2015 behind Todd Pletcher. According to Equibase, make sure to change the year to 2015, Brown won 203 races from 768 starts. His horses won $20,256,459 last year. If you think that only experienced Triple Crown race winning trainers can win the Derby, think again. Graham Motion won the Derby with Animal Kingdom in 2011. Doug O'Neill won it in 2012 with I'll Have Another. Shug McGaughey won it with Orb in 2013 and Art Sherman won it with California Chrome in 2014.

Flexibility's breeding - Sire Bluegrass Cat finished his career with 5 wins and 4 seconds from 11 lifetime starts. Trained by Todd Pletcher, Bluegrass Cat won the Nashua, Remsen, Sam F. Davis and Haskell Invitational. He finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby, the Kentucky Derby, the Belmont and the Travers. Bluegrass Cat was sired by Storm Cat. His damsire was A.P. Indy. Flexibility's dam, Santa Vindi, never raced. But her damsire, Vindication, was sired by Seattle Slew. Vindication went 4 and 0 during his 2-year-old season. He got hurt after winning the 2002 Breeders Cup Juvenile and never raced in any of the Triple Crown races. Flexibility's breeding says that races at 1 1/4 miles and beyond 1 1/4 shouldn't be an issue.

Flexibility's chances at winning the Kentucky Derby - As long as he stays healthy, his chances should be good. Chad Brown is arguably the best trainer working in North America right now. It's rare where a Brown trainee doesn't improve race to race. Brown can improve horses from the mid-level claiming ranks all the way to graded stakes races all the way up to Breeders Cup races. There's no question that he'll find a way to get Flexibility ready for the Run for the Roses. Sure, Flexibility lost to Moyhamen in the 2015 Remsen, but Flexibility fought that one to the wire while holding off the third place finisher. Watch the Remsen again and you be the judge.

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