Brown Recalls What Frankel Taught Him

When Chad Brown worked for late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, the young assistant learned the importance of knowing your horse and its strengths. On Saturday, Brown will attempt to emulate his mentor – who in 2003 ended Funny Cide’s Triple Crown bid by sending out Empire Maker to a victory in the Belmont Stakes – when he saddles Magnolia Racing Stable and Hidden Brook Farm’s Street Life for the “Test of the Champion.”


Developing Street Life required Brown to use the same understanding Frankel employed when he spotted his horses. Following Street Life’s eighth-place debut in a six-furlong sprint at Gulfstream Park in January, Brown realized the colt would be better off spending the winter with his string in New York, which offered the son of Street Sense ample opportunities to compete around two turns on Aqueduct’s inner track.


“Some horses love Gulfstream’s track, others don’t,” said Brown. “We got a sprint race into him and he didn’t make an impact. [Jockey] Jose Lezcano came back, and despite the horse not being a factor in the race he was very happy with the horse. He said, ‘This horse really never got to run to the wire. I had a tough time pulling him up. I think you need to get this horse going long, two turns, somewhere.’ So I took his advice, and I brought the horse to New York. He really did well here in the winter.”


Under the care of assistant trainer Cherie DeVaux, Street Life won his next two starts, a maiden special weight race in February and the Broad Brush overnight stakes in March, both around two turns at the Big A. After a disappointing sixth in the Grade 1 Resorts World Casino New York City Wood Memorial in April, the colt rebounded to finish a fast-closing third in Belmont Park’s Grade 2 Peter Pan on May 12, his most recent start.


Many of Brown’s biggest wins to date have come on turf with fillies and mares, having captured the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf with Maram, the 2011 Grade 1 Diana with Zagora, and the 2011 Grade 1 Beverly D. and Grade 1 Flower Bowl Invitational with Stacelita. He earned another Grade 1 win, this time on dirt, in the 2011 Gazelle with Awesome Feather. Brown, however, is eager to prove that he, like Frankel, can succeed with any type of horse, not just turf runners or females.


“Did Bobby have a special way with fillies? Sure he did,” said Brown. “Did he have a special way with turf horses? Sure he did. Did Bobby have a special way with European horses? Sure he did. He passed those things on to me, and, like Bobby, you start to get not labeled but maybe people start to think of you as favoring training those types of horses.”


Although Frankel trained turf champions Intercontinental, Leroidesanimaux, Possibly Perfect, Ryafan, and Wandesta, Brown was quick to point out some of the top dirt runners Frankel developed.


“When I worked for him, Medaglia d’Oro was a killer on the dirt going long, and so were Ghostzapper and Ginger Punch,” said Brown. “So were Empire Maker and Peace Rules. Squirtle Squirt won going three-quarters.”


Street Life, who in the Belmont could give Brown his first Grade 1 victory with a male horse, galloped 1 ½ miles on Thursday and schooled in the paddock before the third race.


“I thought he [galloped] perfectly,” said Brown. “I couldn’t be any happier.”



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