11/26/2010 4:20PM

Brown has Big A training title within reach

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Barbara D. Livingston
Awesome Feather, Jeffrey Sanchez up, wins the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. – The month of November began on somewhat of a disappointing note for Chad Brown as he watched a horse he formerly trained, More Than Real, win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf at Churchill Downs.

The month has gotten progressively better for the 31-year-old trainer.

Entering the final weekend of the meet, Brown appeared poised to capture the Aqueduct fall trainer’s title, which would be his first title since going out on his own in November 2007. Brown entered Friday’s card with 9 wins and 7 seconds from 26 starters. He held a three-win lead over Rudy Rodriguez, who had only four horses to run over the final two days, and Gary Contessa, who picked up his sixth win on Friday and still had a chance to overtake Brown in the final two days.

After enjoying a strong Saratoga meet in which he went 17 for 56, Brown slowed down at the Belmont fall meet, with 7 winners from 44 starters.

“I ran so many horses at Saratoga that at the Belmont meet I had to freshen a few of them up and regroup a little bit,” Brown said Friday in his Belmont Park barn office. “I can’t go full-bore all the time, so I really kind of focused on this meet and it’s gone really well. Even the horses that ran second were close seconds – we must have been involved in five photos.”

In addition to his successful Aqueduct meet, Brown picked up two quality horses for the future in Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Awesome Feather – who was purchased by Frank Stronach – and the multiple Group 3 winner Zagora, a 3-year-old filly who finished second in the Grade 1 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland last month. She is owned by Martin Schwartz.

“We sold More Than Real to Bobby Flay for substantial money, but, still, to watch her win the Breeders’ Cup was a little bit tough,” said Brown, who had won a maiden race with More Than Real who had been owned by Mike Ryan. “I’m trying to win those races myself. To pick up two horses like that helps soften the blow.”

Brown is certainly not hurting for horses. He plans to have 55 stabled at the Palm Meadows training center in south Florida this winter for the Gulfstream Park meet while maintaining a string of 16 to 20 head in New York for Aqueduct’s winter meet.

Brown has a bevy of 2-year-old turf horses he is high on, including Casino Host, Walker’s Landing, and Pervis, all of whom finished second in their debuts. That trio, plus the maiden winner Beachcombing – another juvenile turf horse – will winter at Palm Meadows.

Among the horses he will keep in New York are Kid Kate, who could be a factor in the filly-and-mare sprint stakes run over the inner track, and Speight of Hand, who is running in a second-level allowance race here on Sunday.

“I got a handful of allowance horses that might work, a handful of 2-year-olds that might work, and a handful of claimers that might work,” Brown said. “I might do some claiming too.”

Mollica to open equine law practice

Longtime jockey agent Drew Mollica recently passed the bar exam in New Jersey and New York and plans to open a general law practice with a slant toward equine-related issues in early 2011. Mollica, 52, was to be sworn in as an attorney in New Jersey on Tuesday and in New York in January.

The people who represent racetrackers don’t really understand racetrackers,” Mollica said Tuesday. “I’m hopeful to be able to do that.”

Before getting out of the game to attend law school, Mollica was one of the more respected and successful jockey agents. His client list read like a Who’s Who of riders, including Chris Antley, Angel Cordero, Pat Day, Aaron Gryder, Richard Migliore, Jose Santos and Gary Stevens.

“It’s time to move on,” Mollica said. “I had a great run as a jockey agent. This is a panacea to me. There seems to be an opportunity here and I hope to make the most of it. Starting a new venture at 52 is not the greatest of ideas, but this is a lifelong dream of mine.”

Boys At Tosconova eyes Holy Bull

Boys At Tosconova, the Hopeful winner who finished second to Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, worked five furlongs in 1:04.86 Friday morning over a muddy Aqueduct main track. It was his second work since the Breeders’ Cup.

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. said Boys At Tosconova would soon ship to Gulfstream Park in south Florida where his first objective would be the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes, a one-turn mile race on Jan. 29.

Dutrow said he would also consider the $1 million Florida Derby on April 3, provided Uncle Mo doesn’t run in that spot.

Services for Skullestad

A wake for longtime New York Racing Association cameraman Steve Skullestad will be held Sunday at the Towers Funeral Home, 2681 Long Beach Road in Oceanside, N,Y. The hours will be 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.

A funeral service will be held 10 a.m. Monday at Towers.

Skullestad, who worked as the pan camera operator at NYRA for 33 years, died on Nov. 23, following after developing complications from surgery.

◗ Mickey Ryan, a longtime race-tracker best known as a hotwalker/groom for trainer Allen Jerkens, died earlier this week from cancer. He was 80.

Visitation will be held Tuesday at the Elmont Funeral Home, 1529 Hempstead Turnpike, on Tuesday from 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. A funeral mass will be held on Wednesday at the St. Vincent De Paul Roman Catholic Church at 1500 Depaul Street in Elmont.