Catching My Eye: Chad Brown fillies Sunday at Saratoga

August 10th, 2022

Sitting at the top of all Saratoga trainers in earnings and wins with 21, Chad Brown is on track to match his 41-win 2021 title. Winning four races on Sunday, his fillies impressed me most—and not just the winners. Somehow there are always more tricks up this man’s sleeve.

For a turf horse that has shown strong gate speed, even winning a sprint last year, Love and Thunder has had to be taken back to the rear in her last two races. Two back in the Perfect Sting S., she got squeezed out of the gate and was left with too much to do going widest in the only turn at Belmont.

On Sunday she had the rail draw, and her stablemate broke in causing Irad Ortiz Jr. to grab hold early. She was so full of run in the final turn that Ortiz had to stand up holding her back in traffic. When he let go, she was blocked on the rail, had to alter her course but still was able to regather an impressive late run to finish behind two near-perfect trip horses.

Chad Brown’s lightly-raced (goes without saying?) four-year-old filly Goodnight Olive impressed me winning an allowance optional claimer going 6 1/2 furlongs on Sunday. In her first three wins, 23 lengths in total separated her from the runners-up; those were by and large won on the lead, saving ground.

On Sunday, she got beat to the front by a couple of dueling outside foes, settled and shifted off the rail going four wide through most of the turn to win by 3 3/4 lengths, only getting the crop from Ortiz once.

Though the field didn’t inspire any fear in her heart nor the bettors, paying 35-cents on the dollar, and three foes collided out of the gate, she still had to overcome adversity and show her intelligence. I am looking forward to what she can do in her third start off the layoff, possibly in the $500,000 Grade 1 Ballerina at the end of August. Her speed figures put her in the conversation.

Two-year-old first-timer Raging Sea learned plenty in her debut. The Chad Brown filly did her running in traffic through most of the $105,000 maiden special weight, splitting foes gamely at the top of the stretch, squeezing through a tight spot. She opened up her run, but the favorite, Peace Cruiser, took the lead from her. Raging Sea responded, dueling and edging forward to win by a neck. She beat the field by six lengths. By Curlin, the pedigree is there for this Alpha Delta Stables homebred out of Stormy Welcome, making her a sister to the $1.5 million much-ado-about-nothing Vinco. 

Two Mendelssohn fillies ran well in the $105,000 maiden special weight, but it was Chad Brown's Pink Hue who won and impressed me most. Debuting at 1 1/16 miles over the turf, Flavien Prat had her away in a clean stride after a slight nudge and worked a perfect trip saving ground throughout. But a rail trip is always difficult for first-timers, and she was in tight.

Prat had his hands full but she never grew rank, and as soon as daylight cleared she took over, relaxing and showing off her natural power, leaping to the lead before anyone could menace, and never taking the whip. It’s good to mention Delight in here as well, the Jonathan Thomas filly had a clean stalking trip this time and ran well, but her race prior she was steadied twice, losing more than five lengths total and still valiantly closed to finish in the money. 

The three-year-old filly Empire Hope did not win or even finish in the money, but this second-time starter made a costly early move when facing winners for the first time. After brushing the gate and taking a few early brushes from foes, Prat was able to save ground—the theme of the day—with this half to graded-stakes winner Sassy Image.

She stalked in fourth and accelerated through the third fraction going the fastest of the field, but expended her energy. She didn’t have enough in the tanks to successfully duel the place-horse Wicked Hot, who came down and brushed her late in the stretch. Skimming close to the rail, she didn't recover to regain her stride. Possibly she wants shorter than seven furlongs, but either way, making that early move cost her when the going got tough against these older fillies.