07/20/2008 11:00PM

Newcomer makes good first impression


So, what has Brown done for you? Plenty, if you have been paying attention from the start.

It's hard to imagine how Bruce Brown could have broken from the gate any faster than he did at Aqueduct last winter, when the 31-year-old trainer hung up his shingle at the inner-track meet and promptly saddled four winners and five runner-up finishers from his first 13 starters.

From his 79 starters this year through mid-July, Brown had a sparkling 19-13-10 record that translated to a win rate of 24 percent, and in-the-money finishes more than half the time. Among those totals was a mark of 8-4-4 from 30 starters at Belmont's recently concluded meet.

Brown's return on investment from all starters in 2008 is comfortably in the black at $2.47.

"I couldn't have ever imagined getting off to this kind of start," Brown said. "It puts a little more pressure on you to try and keep it going. But I have some great owners, and we've run some good horses in the right spots."

Brown, whose father-in-law is retired trainer William Terrill, worked as an assistant trainer for two-time Monmouth Park titlist Tim Hills for more than six years, helping to develop stakes horses such as Sans the Shadow, Toll Taker, and Mooji Moo, a 17-1 upset winner of the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint.

"It was a really great experience," Brown said. "Tim had so many horses at Monmouth, so I pretty much had full rein with the New York horses, though he was always there if I needed him."

When the racing shifted to Belmont Park, it didn't take long for Brown to show that his momentum had carried over across town. On May 22, he saddled two first-off-the-claim winners at odds of nearly 10-1. Rap Tale ran back 15 days after being haltered from a win against $25,000 restricted claimers, and won a starter allowance on the main track at $21.60. Later on the same card, Sly, who had been plucked from a runner-up finish in a $35,000 sprint restricted to nonwinners of two races, won a first-level allowance sprint on the turf and paid $21.80.

"That was a good day," Brown recalled. "Rap Tale was the first horse for some new clients - it was a syndicate with a lot of people fairly new to racing, so that was a lot of fun."

Sly returned four weeks later to win again off a drop to nonwinners-of-three claiming company, and was claimed away.

"That kind of goes with the territory if you're running them where they can win," he said. "We've had our best luck with horses that still have conditions and options as to where they can run; that's what we look for."

From 19 applicable Trainer Form categories with at least five starters, Brown has posted a profitable ROI in 15, with newly acquired horses a particularly strong area. Two recently claimed horses to watch for are At Attention, who was second in a maiden turf sprint at Saratoga last summer, and Footloose Man, who split a field of restricted claimers most recently.

"There is a race for At Attention during the second week of the meet," Brown said. "We gelded Footloose Man soon after we got him, so he'll be more toward the end of Saratoga."

Brown's philosophy for Saratoga is one shared by horsemen and horseplayers alike: "Win one race, and go from there."