11/30/2017 3:34PM

Dover: One last battle in Progress Pace for Brown sophomores

New Image Media
Brian Brown sends out both Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon in Thursday's Progress Pace at Dover.

All good things come to an end and for trainer Brian Brown it’s the stake season that closes out with his pair of millionaires vying for the last significant event on Thursday. The $308,060 Hap Hansen Progress Pace at Dover Downs will be the swansong for Downbytheseaside when he faces arch rival and stablemate Fear The Dragon as well as six others in a race likely to decide the divisional champion.

Downbytheseaside has won four of his last five starts, missing out with a second-place finish in the Breeders Crown.

“I’d say he’s as good now as he’s been all year,” said Brian Brown of the son of Somebeachsomewhere. “He raced great in the Northfield Race (Milstein) and then we had those liver issues that set him back.”

A career winner of $2.025 million, Downbytheseaside has won his last two starts impressively at Dover Downs and will retain driver Chris Page, who hopped aboard following the Crown defeat and has followed the colt east.

“Chris has done a great job with him,” said Brown. “Brian (Sears) had some excellent races too.”

It was Page who apparently woke Downbytheseaside up a bit in the Monument Circle a week after the Breeders Crown. “I think he likes it when he gets raced more aggressively,” Brown said, referring to the Monument Circle fractions that had Downbytheseaside down by the three quarters in 1:20 2/5, more than four seconds faster than he clocked a week earlier in the Crown defeat. “We changed from flip flops to aluminums and that made a huge difference,” said Brown.

Downbytheseaside drew post two in the Hansen in search of his 14th win of the season and 22nd lifetime.

“It’s tough letting him go,” said Brown. “But there is just so much interest in this horse as a stallion.” Indeed, bookings are going fast for the well-bred colt that brings an exceptional bloodline to the Buckeye State.

Fear The Dragon could have called it quits after a disappointing outing in the Breeders Crown elimination but following a solid qualifier on November 9 at Dayton it was decided to supplement the son of Dragon Again to the Hansen. “He was so good qualifying that we thought he deserved a chance,” said Brown of the $25,000 fee.

Last week Fear The Dragon was a bridesmaid to his stablemate in the sole elimination heat. The three length gap between the two was most definitely noticeable at the wire, but neither Brown nor driver David Miller was all that disappointed.

“David told me he was surprised how good Dragon was,” said Brown. “You know he had to make a vicious move into the wind and they were going some big fractions.”

The race could in fact set up Fear The Dragon for a major effort on Thursday should he improve even slightly.

Fear The Dragon, a winner in 17 of 28 lifetime starts, has banked over $1.5 million during his two-year career and as of Monday trainer Brown did not know what will be next for the son of Dragon Again.

“Honestly I don’t even know if it’s 50-50 or 40-60 whether he will race or go to stud next year,” said Brown. The reality is that options are on the table and while Brown would prefer to see his warrior race again as a 4-year-old, the colt has done enough to earn respect and certainly followers in the breeding shed should that prove to be the next step.

Brown’s next stop will be Florida for winter training and the conditioner sounded more than excited at the prospects for the return of Done Well to the racetrack. “He’s looking good,” said Brown. “If all goes well he should ship to Florida and could be back on the track by next Monday.”

Done Well went undefeated in four starts this year as a 2-year-old for Brown and certainly showed as much if not more than either Downbytheseaside or Fear The Dragon had early in their 2-year-old seasons in 2016. The son of Well Said posted a 1:51 2/5 mile in just his second career start, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at Harrah’s.

The Hap Hansen Progress goes as race 10 of 13 on the Dover Thursday program with first post time at 4:30 p.m.