01/19/2013 4:54PM

Gulfstream Park: Brown has plan to give turf runners chance at Kentucky Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Balance the Books, left, works with Noble Tune. Trainer Chad Brown may try them both on Polytrack as a bridge to the Kentucky Derby.

Both Balance the Books and Noble Tune proved themselves among the elite 2-year-olds of 2012, but only on turf. Several horses in recent years have won the Kentucky Derby after beginning their careers on grass, so Chad Brown, who trains both horses, said he will give both the opportunity to make the Derby.

“I’d like to run each once, on turf, before Keeneland, then run in the Blue Grass on Polytrack,” Brown said. “If they run poorly in the Blue Grass, that would be it for the Triple Crown and we’d go back to turf. But if they run well in the Blue Grass, I’d consider running them in the Derby, or at least giving them a workout on the dirt at Churchill Downs beforehand to see if they handle it.”

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

That scenario mirrors what worked two years ago for Animal Kingdom, who began on turf, then won the Spiral Stakes on Polytrack at Turfway Park before a dazzling workout at Churchill Downs the weekend before the Derby that convinced his connections he would handle dirt. Also in the past decade, Derby winners Barbaro and Big Brown both started out on turf before moving successfully to dirt

“We will give them a shot,” Brown said.

Last year, Noble Tune won the Pilgrim Stakes, and Balance the Books won the Bourbon Stakes. Noble Tune was second and Balance the Books third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, the last time both raced. Both are in training at the Palm Meadows training center.