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Chad Brown: Racing’s Smiling Assassin

He may look like that kid you sat next to in sophomore Chemistry class, but don’t let his youthful appearance fool you, Chad Brown is training like a man among boys. Every time I saw him at Santa Anita, Brown had a big smile on his face. A combination of kid in the candy store, and I know something you don’t know kind of grin that made him appear even younger than his 34 years. It seems he had plenty of reason to smile; when Zagora won the recent Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, it marked the second victory in the World Championships for the young trainer. 
Born and raised in the shadow of Saratoga Race Course, Brown cut his teeth first working with harness horses, before assisting in the barns of a pair of legends in Shug McGaughey and Bobby Frankel. So it should come as no surprise that Brown knows his horses, but his meteoric rise up the national trainer rankings is nothing short of remarkable. Currently #5 on the money list with over $10 million in earnings, the young New Yorker finds himself rubbing shoulders with the likes of more experienced giants of the game, Todd Pletcher, Bob Baffert, and Bill Mott. Best known for his turf mares like Maram, Stacelita, Zagora, and Dayatthespa, and as the second trainer of the champion, Awesome Feather, Brown is branching out and now finds himself firmly on the 2013 Kentucky Derby trail.
One of the more interesting horses in my current Top 10 of Derby prospects, Normandy Invasion ran a huge race while losing one of the highest rated juvenile races of the year,  the 1 1/8 mile Remsen Stakes, by a head-bob. After finishing 5th in his career debut, a six furlong sprint, which likely will never be his game, the son of Tapit, out of the Boston Harbor mare, Boston Lady, came back to destroy a maiden special weight in his initial stretch-out. The big win, in which he came from well back to blow right by the field, proved no fluke when Normandy Invasion made a prolonged half-mile rally from well back in the Remsen to look like a winner in mid-stretch. The experienced Futurity winner, Overanalyze, had more in the tank, though, and the pair fought tooth and nail to the wire. The $230k Keeneland sales grad has shown a strong closing kick that should suit him well on the first Saturday of May, and with only three races in the books, he has plenty of room to improve as he matures.

As a son of Lemon Drop Kid, and trained by Brown, it is no surprise that Balance the Books has taken to the turf. On the other hand, out of a Seeking the Gold mare, this is one horse I absolutely need to see on dirt. In each of his four races, all on turf, Balance the Books has finished with a flourish. He gives every indication of wanting longer, and his pedigree clearly supports that belief. He already has two graded stakes wins, at Saratoga and Keeneland, and if the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf had been more than a flat mile, he may well have had a third. When Brown does decide to try him on dirt, it will bel a question that needs to be answered, but his pedigree promises that he will be able to handle the surface of the 2013 Kentucky Derby.

Noble Tune has yet to run on anything other than grass, but unlike the previous two young Brown stars, Noble Tune came out an impressive winner in his debut. Running two turns on the Saratoga grass, the son of Unbridled’s Song was one of the more impressive debut winners at the Spa, and followed it up with another easy core next out in the Grade 3 Pilgrim Stakes at Belmont Park. After that he proved to be a strong member of Brown’s BC team, as he finished a solid runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf in only his third start. Like Balance the Books, who he narrowly defeated at Santa Anita, Noble Tune has the kind of breeding that makes you believe he can succeed on any surface. Out of a Storm Cat mare, it will be interesting to see how soon his trainer tries this one on the dirt with the Kentucky Derby in mind.

If you think this trio of talented young colts is enough to have Chad Brown licking his chops for next year, he also has a slew of good looking juvenile fillies, including Watsdachances and Heart of New York to balance out his barn. All of which has me believing that 2013 could be the year of Brown … Chad Brown.


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Older Comments about Chad Brown: Racing’s Smiling Assassin...

He's a rising star in the game for sure. He's got HARDENED WILDCAT (7-5 M/L favorite) @ Lrl on Saturday in the $125k City of Laurel Stakes for 3-yr-olds.
Brown finished second in the Saratoga trainer standings with 29 winners, of which over 20 came on the turf. Lots of happy owners who got to visit the winner's circle at the Spa.

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