01/06/2016 11:19AM

2015 Eclipse Awards: Chad Brown

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Training careers rarely follow a continuously upward trajectory when charted on a graph. Injuries and retirements of top horses, among other factors, can cause a trainer’s earnings to fall from one year to the next.

Chad Brown just happens to be the exception to the rule. In 2015, he continued his remarkable string of ascending yearly earnings since he began training in 2007, with his stable surpassing $20.2 million in purse money won in North America, second only to Todd Pletcher’s $26.2 million.

That $20.2 million tally surpassed his 2014 total of $15.3 million and came despite stable star Lady Eli being sidelined for the second half of the year while recovering from laminitis.

Brown led all North American trainers in money won on the grass in 2015 with more than $15.1 million, nearly double that of his nearest competitor, Mark Casse. Of Brown’s nine Grade 1 victories in 2015, eight came on turf, with Big Blue Kitten and Stephanie’s Kitten each winning a pair.

Big Blue Kitten was a top performer for much of the year, while Stephanie’s Kitten shined late in 2015, winning both the Grade 1 Flower Bowl and Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf in October. She and Wavell Avenue, who won the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint, gave Brown two Breeders’ Cup victories in 2015.

Wavell Avenue’s success showcased Brown’s talent at developing a different kind of horse – this time a non-turf horse, specifically a late-developing sprinter. A filly who had to drop into a maiden $40,000 claiming race to record her initial victory in October 2014, she steadily improved for Brown in 2015, culminating with an upset Breeders’ Cup victory Oct. 31 at Keeneland. That followed a near miss to elite female sprinter La Verdad a month earlier when second, beaten a half length, in the Grade 2 Gallant Bloom at Belmont.

In total, Brown, 37, won 203 races in 2015, another career high, and his 33 graded stakes victories trailed only Pletcher’s 47. He was the leading trainer on the New York Racing Association circuit in both wins and purse money in 2015 and topped the trainers’ standings at Belmont Park in the fall.