In the home stretch of the Mellon turf course, there were no maybes about it. Current meet-leading trainer and turf pro Chad Brown, who grew up not too far away from the Saratoga sod, was going to return home a winner one thousand times over. In the winners’ circle once again, Chad Brown took a moment to reflect on his journey from Bobby Frankel protege to a multiple Breeders’ Cup winning expert following the ceremony for his latest winner, Mr. Maybe at 3-5 in the $100,000 John’s Call Stakes for older horses on turf.
“As I reflect, it’s a nice accomplishment to get this here at our home track in Saratoga,” said Brown, who is originally from nearby Mechanicsville just a short car ride away south on I-87. “It seems like not long ago I wasn’t even in training, I was just in the picnic area with my parents.
“To have a stable of this size, and to be competing at the top level, with so many wonderful co-workers, and clients who have become my friends. This job of mine has totally changed my life. To have one thousand wins, and have it happen right here at Saratoga, is priceless for me.”
Mr. Maybe, who was outshined a bit by his trainer’s accomplishment, notched his first win in three tries this year after emerging as a promising horse on the grass at the Aqueduct and Gulfstream Park winter meets last year. Sent off at 3-5, it was no secret that the big gray gelding by Ghostzapper was the horse to beat in a field of eight going 1 5/8 miles around the outer turf course. Breaking well and in relaxed fashion under leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr, Mr. Maybe settled well to the inside of horses as My Afleet took the early lead through the first quarter in :24.86 and the first half mile in :49.78. Staying relatively unchanged in position, My Afleet continued his loping stride with 11-1 shot Procurement to outside returning to the backstretch, still leading the charge through 3/4 mile in 1:14.55 and an easy mile in 1:39.42, but as the big gray approached the far turn, the field began bunching up as many began their rallies.
Switching to the outside for a clear run, Mr. Maybe began passing horses furiously rounding the far turn and had only My Afleet to catch in the stretch as the two grays turned for home. With My Afleet still several lengths in front, it took a few effective swats from Ortiz Jr’s stick to get him in the clear by mid-stretch. Winning the John’s Call Stakes in 2:39.21, it marked the five-year-old gelding’s fifth win in sixteen starts and his first winners’ circle appearance at the Spa for owners Michael Dubb, Head of Plains Partners LLC, Highclere America, and Bethlehem Stables.
Notching his thirty-first win of the meet, Chad Brown acknowledged the horse’s struggles throughout the year that were made up in the sweet victory ride. “He was much the best today. Bruce Jackson [at the Fair Hill, Maryland training center] co-trained this horse for this race. This horse had a respiratory infection after the United Nations at Monmouth. We have 20 horses with Bruce and after he was better he sent him up to me. I just breezed him a couple of times and then ran him.”
Paying a scant $2.40 for a $2 win bet, Mr. Maybe was the winner by 2 1/4 lengths over My Afleet followed by Renown. Following in order of finish were Procurement, Moss Code, Biedermeier, Rum Tum Tugger, and Biz the Nurse [IRE]. Set to Music, Street Fashion, and Swear by It were trainer-scratched.
Top photo of Mr. Maybe courtesy of Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Raised among horses in western Massachusetts, it wasn’t until reading a first edition copy of “Man o’ War” that 12-year-old Dawna Wood figured out that horse racing was pretty cool.
A fixture at NYRA racetrack rails and a self-described pony paparazzo, she is the owner and administrator of New York Racehorse.
A communications media graduate at Fitchburg State University, Dawna’s documentary short on retired stakes winner-turned-eventer Stud Muffin is, by her own account, “the bee’s knees.”