09/03/2011 2:43PM

Saratoga: Brown having meet of his life

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Tom Keyser
Zagora, with Javier Castellano riding, wins the Diana.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Chad Brown will finish second to one – Todd Pletcher - in the Saratoga trainer standings, but this summer has been second to none for the 32-year-old fledgling trainer.

Through Friday, Brown had won 21 races from 69 starters at Saratoga, and his horses have earned more than $1.1 million in purse money. Brown has won four stakes, including the Grade 1 Diana with Zagora and Grade 2 National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame with Big Blue Kitten. Out of town, he won the Grade 1 Beverly D. at Arlington with Stacelita.

“I’m not going to feel about finishing second,” Brown said Saturday morning. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s something I’d like to win someday, but winning one out of every three races I’m running in – I just can’t do any better than that. When you’re winning at that percentage it gets to the point where it’s down to numbers. In fairness to Todd – and everybody says, well, he’s got more horses than you – he’s winning at the same rate. He’s done an incredible job all meet. To have that many horses and win at that rate shows how good a trainer he is.”

Through Friday, Pletcher had started 60 more horses than did Brown. Pletcher won 37 races.

For Brown, a onetime assistant to the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, the most gratifying win of the meet was Zagora’s victory in the Diana, which gave the trainer his first Grade 1 victory. But he was also proud to have improved upon his terrific 2010 Saratoga meet, where he finished third with 17 wins and his horses earned $537,630,

“To pass last year’s total and to earn over a million dollars at the meet for my clients, those are all new tops for me and my staff,” Brown said. “We’ve improved a little bit in stakes wins and total wins and money won from last year. If we can just keep building on it every year, those are the goals we set for ourselves.”

On Saturday, Brown put his pair of Grade 1 winners through an in-company workout on the turf. Zagora and Stacelita worked head and through five furlongs in 1:00.20. Zagora is being pointed to the Canadian at Woodbine on Sept. 18 while Stacelita is targeting the Flower Bowl at Belmont on Oct. 1.

“I ended up working them together this morning, they won’t work together all the time,” Brown said “It’s something Bobby [Frankel] used to do – match up his real good ones. It was just maintenance – both were in hand. The way their schedules worked out they needed each other this morning.”

Brown said Kid Kate, who won a pair of overnight stakes, will be pointed to the Gallant Bloom at Belmont on Sept. 24.

Howard to have Belmont string

Trainer Neil Howard, who has not had a string of horses stabled at Belmont since 2008, will return this fall with about a dozen runners for the meet that begins next Saturday.

Howard said the majority of horses he had stabled at Saratoga will ship to Belmont, including his Hopeful starter Power World as well as 2-year-old fillies Bargain Blitz, second in a maiden race on Aug. 14 and Cathy’s Cornbread, a daughter of Indian Charlie who worked out of the gate on Saturday.