Chad Brown, the 32-year-old trainer who grew up 10 miles from Saratoga Race Course in Mechanicville, has had a dream start to the Saratoga meeting. After 16 days of the 40-day meet, he’d saddled nine winners. That would be a solid total for the entire meet, so it’s no wonder he’s well ahead of all but one of his rival trainers.
Brown’s nine winners are four more than Graham Motion and Tom Albertrani, who are tied for third in the trainer standings with five.
But the guy they’re all chasing scored his 20th victory on Monday. His name is Todd Pletcher. You may have heard of him.
Pletcher has been unreal at Saratoga as he sprints to his eighth training title. He’s also on his way to his second consecutive and sixth overall Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer.
“Obviously, Todd is a great trainer, and he has a lot of good horses,” Brown said Tuesday. “I really don’t pay attention to what other people are doing. I focus on what I’m doing.”
What he’s doing is working well, just as it did last year when he finishing third in the trainer standings with 17 victories from just 56 starters. Pletcher had 36 victories from 133 starts, while 2009 Saratoga champion Linda Rice visited the winner’s circle 20 times from 103 mounts.
“We did well here last year, so we thought we had horses that were going to do well early in the meet,” Brown said. They did. The highlight was Zagora winning the Diana Handicap, giving Brown his first Grade 1 stakes triumph.
Brown continually deflects praise for his accomplishments to the two trainers he worked for Shug McGaughey and the late Bobby Frankel. “I worked for two Hall of Famers who taught me quite a bit,” Brown said. “I call on that knowledge a lot.”
Brown began his own stable in 2007, notching his first win with Dual Jewels, November 27th. Less than a year later, he gained immediate credibility by winning the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Filly Turf with Maram.
In 2010, Brown captured the Aqueduct Fall Meet with nine victories. The nine he’s already scored at Saratoga this summer can only strengthen his already impressive resume. That he’s doing so well so close to home is just an added benefit. “That’s very gratifying, when you can show off some horses in front of your family and friends, and everybody’s rooting for you,” he said. “It’s no different than any other sport. Sometimes, I feel that it’s a little bit of a home court advantage. Saratoga is my home court.”
(Bill Heller’s latest two books, “Above It All; The Turbulent Life of Jose Santos,” and “Captain Free-lance; The Check Is In The Mail,” are available exclusively at www.billhellerbooks.com.)