ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Horse of the Year? Too soon to say it is Arrogate. Best 3-year-old? Forget it; there may not be a right answer. But the top trainer in North America? Chad Brown is making like the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Already the current holder of the Eclipse Award, Brown had one of the most memorable days of his young training career Saturday when two of his horses won the two biggest Grade 1 races on Arlington Million day – Beach Patrol in the Million and Dacita in the $600,000 Beverly D.
Oh, yes. One small detail here. Brown was not even here at Arlington Park.
“He almost still came,” said Sol Kumin, lead owner of both Beach Patrol and Dacita. “I was with him yesterday. He was going back and forth. He decided not to come. He had some big horses in the Grade 1 back at Saratoga. But we’ll bring him home the trophy and take him out for some drinks.”
“Yesterday I went to his barn at Saratoga,” said Joel Rosario, who rode Beach Patrol and got his first victory in the Million. “He explained to me what he wanted. He just told me I had to get him out of the gate and in good position and let him find himself. It took a little bit of time, but he really found his way.”
It was Rosario’s first time riding Beach Patrol since June of last year, when he finished sixth as the favorite in the Penn Mile. When Florent Geroux rode him for the first time last August, Beach Patrol won here in the Secretariat Stakes for 3-year-olds. But then came six more races. The best Geroux could do in those was finish second – four times. After finishing third as the favorite in last month’s United Nations at Monmouth, a change was in order. Enter Rosario.
“He did a great job,” Kumin said. “Florent has rode the horse many times; he also won a Grade 1 for us with this horse. Chad felt like it was time for something different. He makes that decision, not us. Obviously we’ve won some great races with Joel, and we’re thrilled he could get the ‘W’ today.”
Breaking from post 9 in the field of 12, Rosario got Beach Patrol (9-2) out cleanly and quickly settled him into second place behind pace-setting Oak Brook. Never more than a half-length from the lead, Beach Patrol stayed in the three path until cutting the corner in the turn for home. The favorite Deauville (9-5) had moved into the lead briefly under Ryan Moore, but Beach Patrol had too much left to be denied the victory. He got the lead with 110 yards left and held off the late charge by Fanciful Angel (73-1) to beat her by a half-length. Deauville was a close third.
“Beach Patrol – I know he’s a fighter,” Rosario said. “He was giving 100 percent. I was trying to keep him busy. I feel like when they came to him, he was there for me.”
Giving Brown his second win in the Million to go with Real Solution’s win by disqualification in 2013, Beach Patrol was clocked at 2:02.39 over the firm track. It was the slowest Million in five years – and slower than the 2:01.79 from Oscar Performance in Saturday’s Secretariat over the same 1¼-mile course.
The win by Dacita (13-2) was Brown’s third in a row in the Beverly D. for fillies and mares, and it was quite different from Beach Patrol’s. Breaking from the rail, the Chilean-bred 6-year-old by Scat Daddy settled near the back of the pack and stayed there until the final turn. That was when jockey Írad Ortiz Jr. pushed the button to make up a 4½-length gap. In the final jumps she passed the favorite and defeated Argentina-bred Doña Bruja (2-1), which wound up in a dead heat for second with Grand Jeté (3-1).
“We were waiting for her to be right and praying for some firm ground,” Kumin said. “We got it today and got super lucky. The way she finished we knew she had it in her.”
It was also Dacita’s first victory in a year – and then some. She had not see the winner’s circle since Ortiz rode her in last year’s Grade 1 Diana at Saratoga. She also failed as a favorite twice, coming in second in races on either side of a long winter break before placing third in June in the Grade 2 New York Stakes at Belmont Park.
While the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf will be a goal for Dacita, the future is not so clear for Beach Patrol. He qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Turf with Saturday’s victory. But that is a 1½-mile race, and that may be out of his range. The 1¼-mile Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park may be in her autumn future with perhaps an eye toward the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
“The good 10-furlong races have already sort of happened,” Kumin said. “It’ll be up to Chad. We’ll have to wait and see. This is what Chad does. He’s the best in the business at it.”
Brown, 38, a graduate of Cornell and a pupil of the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel, is living a dream of a year that was already highlighted by Cloud Computing’s breakthrough victory in the Preakness. And now it includes the unique Arlington Million trophy with its sweeping curves and the horse figurine on top. Oh, yes. And the name of the new winner that was being engraved even as the traditional champagne toast was going on right in front of Kumin.
“Chad always talked about this as the best trophy in horse racing,” Kumin said. “It’s always been on the bucket list, and super fortunate to be here with my kids and dad. It doesn’t get much better than this.”
With his win in the $400,000 Grade 1 Secretariat, the favorite Oscar Performance (3-2) showed he has come all the way back from his two-race slump that followed a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. Racing for native Australian trainer Brian Lynch, the ridgling sired by Kitten’s Joy ran away a 2¼-length winner over Taj Mahal (15-2) with Afandem (3-1) third.
The Secretariat ended with last-place Permian breaking down as he crossed the finish line, throwing jockey William Buick over onto the track. Permian broke his left-front leg and was euthanized on the track. Buick was hospitalized with back pain, but a doctor and a racing liaison who were with him said he would recover – but probably not in time to make his ride in Sunday’s German grand prix.
Postulation (5-1) stayed within a length of the lead through the second half of his race and finished a 2¼-length winner in the $250,000 Grade 3 American St. Leger, which went around three turns to cover 1 11/16 miles. Taghleeb (5-2) and the favorite Keystoneforvictory (5-2) finished second and third.
With North American horses winning them all, it marked the first time in eight years that there was no foreign-trained winner of any of the big races on Arlington Million day.