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Above: Chad Brown super-fillies Dayatthespa, Samitar, Dream Peace and Zagora.
If you haven’t been noticing Chad Brown’s name, you’re just not paying attention. The 33-year-old upstate New York native is on a serious roll. His horses are tearing up tracks in the Empire State and beyond. In just the past few weeks, for instance, he’s won the Queen Elizabeth (G1) and Bourbon Stakes (G3) at Keeneland and the Pilgrim (G3) and Miss Grillo (G3) at Belmont. Look up and down his shed rows and you’ll find a seemingly endless stream of stakes winners.
Yet Brown took an unusual route to the winner’s circle, starting out with Standardbreds in his mid-teens.
“I learned a lot from harness racing,” Brown said recently at Saratoga. “They’re really tough horses, and there are great horsemen.”
At 19, while studying animal science at Cornell, Brown sent inquiries to a few Thoroughbred trainers. The Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey was the only one to respond, and Brown quietly entered into the TB world at McGaughey’s topnotch barn. From there, he went to work with Dr. Steve Allday, focusing on lameness work.
Before long, he met another Hall of Famer, Bobby Frankel, for whom he worked 5½ years. Those were what many might call Frankel’s 'glory years,' including one season (2003) in which he won an amazing 25 Grade Is. In 2007, when Frankel chose to stay home with a sick dog instead of saddle Ginger Punch in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff, it was Brown who led the filly into the winner’s circle. The very next day, he went out on his own.
When asked whether his choice of topnotch employers was simply coincidence, Brown said, “I tried to seek out the best and learn as much from them as I could. I’ve been lucky.”
While luck doesn’t hurt, Brown is ever-thoughtful, paying attention every step of the way. Watch him in the morning, and it’s obvious he is very serious about his profession.
Although he’s trained several stakes-winning colts, including G1 winner Desert Blanc and recent 2-year-old SWs Balance the Books and Noble Tune, Brown - like Frankel - seems to have a magic touch with fillies and mares. And it’s not just fillies and mares, but often turf fillies and mares - including European imports. Why is that?
“I think Frankel’s whole program was geared toward patience,” Brown said. “When you’re dealing with turf horses, there’s a lot of patience involved. And when you’re dealing with fillies, there’s a lot of patience involved. So when you’re working with turf fillies, there’s double the amount of patience involved. Fillies can be a bit little more temperamental.
"And for European fillies, for instance, going long, it’s a different program. They’ve established some sort of form over there, but they have to adjust to training our way, feeding our way, how we care for them at the barn.
"We try to individualize them and try to predict what they will be best at doing - turf or dirt, short or long. And, luckily, we’ve had success in all of the areas.”
In addition, Brown seeks out the best exercise riders possible -- as, he remembers, did Frankel.
“We’re constantly teaching the horses to obey the riders at all times,” Brown said. “All horses are different, so some learning sessions go more smoothly than others out there on the track. But eventually, we tend to get the horses’ attention, to do things the way we want them to do them.”
And that way, the Chad Brown way, often leads to the winner’s circle.
Below, meet some of Chad Brown's top fillies and mares, from A (Awesome Feather) to Z (Zagora) - as seen through Brown's eyes.
Above: Chad Brown greets Awesome Feather upon her return to the winner's circle, Belmont Park.
AWESOME FEATHER: 2008 b. f. by Awesome of Course - Precious Feather, by Gone West (still racing, Breeders' Cup-bound)
Career record 10 - 10 - 0 - 0, $1,912,746. Brown took over the filly's training after her juvenile filly championship in 2010. Since then, she's remained undefeated, including a G1 score in the Gazelle.
Chad Brown: "AWESOME FEATHER has gotten sweeter. When we first got her she was pretty aggressive in the stall, she’d try to bite you, and try you, all the time. She’s very tough to train, in as far as she pulls while galloping. We’re trying to get her to switch off a little bit. In her last race she really responded and wasn’t pulling as much. And in her gallops, she’s been a little bit better.
"She’s the kind of horse that has a personality, like, 'Don’t mess with me.' At other times she’ll be sweet, so she’s not a mean horse. I think that she appreciates her space, is a good way to put it - and we don’t argue with her over that. When she wants space, she’s quick to let you know, with her demeanor. And then you back right away. We’ve come to an understanding, our staff and her, and she’s very happy here."
Above: Chad Brown follows Awesome Feather to the track, Belmont Park, 2011.
Above/below: Awesome Feather, looking sweet as could be.
Above: Javier Herrera takes Awesome Feather for a spin.
Above: Awesome Feather wins the Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream Park, 2012.
DAYATTHESPA - 2009 ch. f., by City Zip - M'Lady Doc, by Doc's Leader (still racing)
8 starts, 6 wins, 1 second. Earnings $574,892. Dayatthespa has won 5 consecutive stakes, including her most recent win, the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup Stakes at Keeneland.
Chad Brown: Dayatthespa is the highest-strung one of the group. Very consistent, she brings her game every time, but she’s very high-strung and - especially on race day, like in the paddock - you’ve got to be careful with her, and school her quite a bit.
"I think she’s anxious to get it on. When she knows she’s going to go out there and race, I think she’s looking forward to going out there and mixing it up with other horses. She gets herself really worked up.
"We try to get her to channel her energy, to just that moment when she needs it and forget about all the other stuff. So it’s a little challenging. But she has a ton of talent. Our job, with her personality, is trying to always keep her quiet, keep her grounded. That’s when we see her best."
Above: 2012 Queen Elizabeth (G1) winner Dayatthespa at Palm Meadows this past winter. Brown's assistant George Abreu is on the accompanying pony.
Above: Dayatthespa wins the Riskaverse at Saratoga, 2012.
Above: Dayatthespa after her G1 Queen Elizabeth win at Keeneland, October 2012.
Above: Ava Brown reaches to pet Dayatthespa after the filly's win in the Riskaverse.
DREAM PEACE: 2008 b. f. by Dansili (GB) - Truly a Dream (IRE), by Darshaan (GB) (still racing)
Career record: 16 starts, 4 wins, 2 second, 6 thirds, earnings of $660,242. Since Brown took over her training, Dream Peace has run third in 2 G1 races (Flower Bowl, E.P. Taylor).
Chad Brown: "I haven't had heras long as the other horses, but you read her PPs and you look at her personality, she’s a world traveler. She’s been all over.
"She takes everything in stride. Every day that I’ve had her, she’s trained the same and she breezes the same. She’s very consistent, and she has a maturity about her…like she’s the senior in the class. She’s only 4, but nothing gets her worked up. She's been in a bunch of different situations and places, and it makes sense. There’s nothing about her, in her training, where you can rattle that horse."
Above: Dream Peace (outside) working with Zagora, Saratoga 2012.
Above/below: Dream Peace, summer 2012.
Above: The globe-trotting, unflappable Dream Peace, Julien Leparoux up.
MARAM: dk. b./br. m., 2006-2012, by Sahm - American Dreamer, by Quest for Fame (GB)
10 starts, 5 wins, 1 second, 1 third, earnings of $900,320. Winner of 4 stakes, including Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Chad Brown: "Maram was a very high strung horse. We got her in and there was no hype, or expectations of her. She was just an overachiever, which we loved.
"By the time we got ready to run her at 2, there was something about her. She’d rear up, and she just had a presence about her. She wasn’t out of control, but that August, at Saratoga, she just came together in a couple of weeks. She got so high strung you couldn’t drop a pin around her, and she'd be squealing.
"When you’ve been around good horses, like I’ve been lucky enough to be around, you know there’s something about that horse over there. At the time, I only had about 18-20 horses in training. You’d bring her out to train, and she’d be cleaning the shedrow out. We said, 'This horse, she has to be able to run.'"
Above: The high-spirited Maram, Chad Brown's first Breeders' Cup winner. She won the 2008 Juvenile Fillies Turf at Santa Anita.
Above/below: The high-strung Maram, soon after arriving at Santa Anita (above). Several days later (below), she won the Juvenile Fillies Turf.
Above: Chad Brown with Maram. She gave Brown his first Breeders' Cup win just one year after he became a trainer.
Above: Maram at Saratoga.
Above: Maram looking absolutely stunning. The beautiful daughter of Sahm died at age 6 on September 6, 2012, at Sheltowee Farm in KY, of an acute illness. She left behind just one foal, a Giant's Causeway colt born April 30.
SAMITAR: 2009 b. f. by Rock of Gibraltar (IRE) - Aileen's Gift (IRE), by Rainbow Quest (still racing)
13 starts, 4 wins, 2 seconds, 3 thirds, earnings of $875,941. Brown took over her training this summer. In September, she won the G1 Garden City at Belmont.
Chad Brown: "Samitar is a wild card. She came in, she’s only 3, and a classic winner over there (Europe). She came in off the plane and ran well. When I was training her I’d say she's trained well, but she’s a difficult horse to get a read on in the mornings. I don’t know that that filly gives you her best in the mornings, and you just have to trust her when she goes over to run.
"She has a nice elegant look to her - she’s like a cheetah, walking around. She’s very light on her feet, she’s lightly made. She’s not a big, powerful, imposing horse. You wouldn’t hear her walking through the woods.
And then when she goes out there and trains, she trains (as though) she’s always leaving something in the tank. And you just train her that way - and, boy, when I ran her, she showed up.
"She’s never going to go down there and work, where everyone’s buzzing in the clocker’s stand. She’s catlike and very calculated in how she trains and walks around the barn. We’ve gotten to know her. Now that we do, we can tailor her training accordingly."
Above: The cat-like Samitar eyes the camera at Saratoga, 2012.
Above: Samitar, left, and Dream Peace rumble at Saratoga 2012.
Above: Samitar at Belmont Park, October 2012.
Above: Martin Schwartz, the owner of standouts Zagora, Stacelita, and Samitar (pictured).
Above: Samitar and Dayatthespa soar on the Saratoga turf. Ramon Dominguez and Javier Castellano are aboard the turf stars.
Above: Brown at Saratoga 2012.
STACELITA: 2006 dk. b./br. m., by Monsun (GER) - Soignee (GER), by Dashing Blade (GB) (retired)
18 starts, 10 wins, 2 seconds, 2 thirds, earnings of $2,371,241. 2011 Eclipse champion turf female. Brown took over Stacelita's training toward the end of her career. She won the G1 Beverly D. and Flower Bowl Invitational for him.
Chad Brown: "Stacelita was another one who could be a bit high-strung, but another one who had so much class about her. It’s funny - she would get in the walking ring and it’s almost like the other horses respected her. You just got that feeling about her. She’s so tall and imposing, she wasn’t real wide, and she had such an elegant look about her.
"She walked to the track with such confidence, and she’d drag you to the track - in a nice way. If she didn’t start walking at the barn, by the time they got to the track, she was in front - and not by design. That's just the kind of powerful walk she had on her.
"I just think the other horses picked up on that. They had a ton of respect for her. It sounds probably kooky, me saying that, like I know what other horses think - but you’d read their body language, and we felt that way about her.
"She never did anything bad, like try to hurt anybody, or bite anybody, or kick anybody - but we respected her. And in return, she was just rock solid all the time."
Above: The tall and imposing Stacelita, 2011 champion turf female.
Above: Chad Brown with his Eclipse Award winner Stacelita.
Above: Stacelita wins the 2011 Flower Bowl Invitational.
Above: Stacelita heads postward for her Flower Bowl win.
WATSDACHANCES: 2010 b. f. by Diamond Green (FR) - High Finance (IRE), by Entrepreneur (GB) (still racing, Breeders' Cup-bound)
4 starts, 3 wins, 1 third, earnings of $164,582. Watsdachances first 2 starts were in Europe. Since the 2-year-old filly was imported, Watsdachances has won her 2 starts, both stakes, including the G3 Miss Grillo.
Chad Brown: "Watsdachances is very quiet - a nondescript horse, like Zagora. She has a little more range to her, but I’d say they’re very similar. When she came over here, being 2, it surprised me that she handled the transition so well. She trains like she’s 3-years-old and that she has been in America her whole life.
"She’s never done anything where we’ve paused and said, 'She needs a little more schooling in this area, or that area, to learn our way of doing things.’ She's just picked up on it the first time we showed her something. Super-intelligent horse, I’d say, if I were to mention one quality about her. Extremely intelligent horse...and for a 2-year-old."
Above/below: 2-year-old filly Watsdachances (left) winning the P.G. Johnson Stakes at Saratoga. She recently added the G3 Miss Grillo to her resume.
Above: The highly intelligent Watsdachances.
Above: Watsdachances and Javier Castellano at Belmont, this past Monday, tuning up for the Breeders' Cup.
Above: Javier and Watsdachances, with Brown assistant Cherie DeVaux on the pony.
ZAGORA: 2007 ch. m., by Green Tune - Zaneton (FR), by Mtoto (GB) (still racing, Breeders' Cup-bound)
21 starts, 9 wins, 5 seconds, 3 thirds, earnings of $1,288,589. Chad Brown's first Grade 1 winner. Brown has trained Zagora for her most recent 12 starts, during which time she's won 5 graded stakes, including the G1 Diana Handicap at Saratoga.
Chad Brown: "Zagora is just your typical 'plain brown wrapper' horse. She’s not real big, and I’ve never heard her whinny or make any special vocal noise. She’s so quiet. Once in a while, she’ll show her sharpness around the barn - but that’s very rare. She's the consummate professional. She walks the same every day, she gallops the same every day, she breezes the same every breeze. She’s never deviated from her par, from her normal, which I love. And her race record reflects - very much - her over-all personality: just consistency.
"And she's a very sweet horse. My daughter could lead her around."
Above: Zagora and Chad, September 2011.
Above: The 'consummate professional,' Zagora stands proud at Saratoga, 2012. Chad Brown's horses all feature a 'bang tail,' as did Bobby Frankel's. Frankel was very particular about his horses' tails, even cutting some himself. He believed it helped the tails to be more healthy and thick.
When asked why he, too, keeps his horses' tails cropped neatly, Brown says, "It's really for Bobby."
Above: Zagora storms home in the G3 Gallorette at Pimlico on Preakness day 2012.
Above: Zagora watches the morning activity on the training track, from her stall, autumn 2012. I must admit, of Brown's many beautiful and talented fillies and mares, Zagora - sweet, consistent, lovely - is my favorite.
Above: How about this company: Zagora and Stacelita see eye-to-eye.
Above: Chad Brown with his first grade I winner, Zagora, and first Eclipse champion, Stacelita, at Saratoga on September 11, 2011.
Above: Chad Brown with his daughter Ava, October 2012. Chad and his wife Terrill, the granddaughter of popular trainer William 'Red' Terrill (shout-out to Turnback the Alarm!), also have a second young daughter, Andi.
A heartfelt thank you to Chad Brown for his kind assistance.
Awesome Feather's 2011 Gazelle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hPstrKJQ4U
Dayatthespa's 2012 Queen Elizabeth (G1) win:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6HzZQW8t18
Maram's 2008 Breeders' Cup win: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rm2PfWFwoEg
Samitar's G1 Garden City: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf9RpJyL-4M
Stacelita's 2011 Beverly D (G1) win: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGxVRJyIsh8
Watsdachances' Miss Grillo (G3) win: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lbRf87dQ-8
Zagora's 2011 Diana (G1) win:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9cNgWNz79A
2010 interview with Chad Brown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdnlDv9kafI
Barbara, Thank you for the beautiful pictures and the shout out. You have such a gift for capturing the spirits of these lovely athletes.
Hello Barbara, ..... I loved the entire line up of Brown's Beauties! Every photo a work of art. ..... The photo of Zagora watching the activity from her stall - Indescribably beautiful! Lovely photo of Maram with chad, So very sad that she is no longer with us. And Dayatthespa, You captured her perfectly! Take good care.
Barbara ...gorgeous, gorgeous , gorgeous ! ...what a lovely montage of filly and mare Brunettes, Redheads, and deep dark brown. Plus the lovely blonde angel Ava Brown. You have wrapped up all my current favorite fillys and mares in one article, especially Zagora:) Continued success to Chad Brown SR Vegas
Wonderful group of photos. When I saw the last shot of Maram it reached out and grabbed me, then saddened to read she had died. I was unaware. So powerful and so fleeting. "It's really for Bobby." How much better than that can it get?
If I might say: very nice, indeed:)
What a dazzling tribute to Chad Brown and his girls, including Ava.
Chad Brown is certainly a trainer to watch for the next decades. Kudos to him for his quick and early success.
Chad Brown has a way about him that makes those fillies give thier all for him, he is a great trainer, He had picked his team with care and the are good, he learned from the Great Bobby Frankel and what's more he has stepped into his OWN light ...he shines bright amoung Trainers :)
I fell in love w/ Dream Peace when I saw her in the paddock for the EP Taylor. Beautiful girl.