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Breeders' Cup 2017

Brown Discusses Zagora, Street Life

As the horse that gave him his first Grade 1 victory in last year’s Diana, Zagora will always hold a special place for trainer Chad Brown. A record-setting performance in Saturday’s Grade 2 Ballston Spa presented by Jose Cuervo only added to her legacy for the Mechanicville native.


“She’s definitely one of our barn favorites,” Brown said. “She tries hard. She’s quietly had an outstanding career, and when I really need her in the clutch, she shows up for me.”


Bred in France and trained by Brown for owner Martin Schwartz, the 5-year-old daughter of Green Tune has won nine of 20 races and $1,168,159 in purses. Third in the Diana on July 28, she likely will return to Grade 1 company in the $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster on October 7, run at 1 1/8 miles over the Polytrack at Keeneland.


In the Ballston Spa, Zagora was able to sit off a fast early pace and come charging down the middle of the inner turf course to win by 1 ½ lengths over Hungry Island in a time of 1:39.07, nearly a full second faster than Leroidesanimaux’s previous 1 1/16-mile track record of 1:39.92, set in 2005. Leroidesanimaux was trained by Brown’s mentor, late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel.


“Given how firm the turf was, it was a strong pace; it wasn’t a ridiculous pace,” Brown said. “She bore down on them and got them, and she caught a couple good horses in Tapitsfly and Summer Soiree, and held off a really nice horse. It was a solid race. There were some really nice horses in there. My filly showed up yesterday, and I’m proud of her.”


Zagora has four wins from six starts this year, including the Grade 3 Endeavor and Grade 3 Hillsborough to open the 2012 season at Tampa Bay Downs. She added the Grade 3 Gallorette on the Preakness undercard May 19 at Pimlico.


“When I heard [critics say] that I was giving her an easy schedule, I really didn’t see another schedule that made more sense to me, so I stuck to my plan,” Brown said. “The Diana was always the goal for this filly. She came out of Pimlico with a splint injury, and it just didn’t work out. Her breezes from the Diana to the Ballston Spa were spectacular. I went in there with a lot of confidence yesterday. I didn’t know she was going to smash the track record, but I knew she was sitting on her ‘A’ race.”


Meanwhile, Brown was pleased to report that Street Life, who ran last of 11 and was vanned off the track following Saturday’s Travers, was “happy and comfortable” the morning after suffering a soft tissue injury to his left front pastern during the race.


Brown said he will wait a few days for the swelling to go down before having an ultrasound test to further evaluate the damage.


“All the bony structures in his leg X-rayed perfect,” Brown said. “Hopefully, it’s not a career-ending injury. At this point it’s kind of up in the air. The pastern is somewhat of a complex structure with tendons and ligaments all in that area. We really want to zero in on where the damage is, if there is any, which we suspect there is. We just don’t know the extent of it, but we’re happy to report that the horse is happy, and it’s in no way a life-threatening situation. All the bones in his leg are in place and look good.”


Coming off a 1 ¾-length victory in the $100,000 Curlin at Saratoga on July 27, Street Life was the fourth betting choice in the Travers. Watching the race, Brown felt something was amiss around the three-eighths pole, when Street Life, running 10th of 11 under jockey Jose Lezcano, was passed by eventual third-place finisher Fast Falcon.


“I loved where he was down the backside, because he was in his normal position near the rear of the field, but he was in good contact to run them down,” Brown said. “The way the race was unfolding, I was OK with it. When he entered the turn and Fast Falcon ended up going around him, that’s when I was worried. That’s about the time Jose said when he went to his left lead, he just didn’t feel quite right.”


Brown praised Lezcano for his handling of Street Life, who he has ridden in five of his eight career starts. After crossing the wire, Lezcano pulled up the son of Street Sense and hopped off.


“As soon as Jose came off the horse, he came over to me before I could get to the horse and said, ‘Something just wasn’t quite right, boss,’” Brown said. “That’s how he put it to me. I’m happy he took care of the horse. He did the right thing. He knows the horse, and he wasn’t hitting the ground quite right. I feel bad for everyone involved with the horse, because I thought he had a really good chance. But, it could have been a lot worse.”




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