Where have all Brown's favorites gone?

By Ron Flatter  (VSiN.com) 

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Shown this spring at Churchill Downs, Chad Brown has 13 horses entered for the Breeders’ Cup on Friday and Saturday at Del Mar. (Ron Flatter photo)

Del Mar, Calif.

He has brought 13 horses to the Breeders’ Cup before. Like this year, trainer Chad Brown is doing so at Del Mar.

Somehow, though, in that upper crust of equine talent, he has only one morning-line favorite – and none on the turf where he has collected 13 of his 15 Breeders’ Cup victories.

This is the titan of turf we are talking about here. So how many times will bettors kicking themselves after the fact for fading his starters? For his part, Brown might be amused by this anomaly, but he said he does not use morning lines or futures prices or anything from the gambling world to determine where to enter his horses.

“I don’t pay much attention to it at all when I spot my horse,” he said in an interview that will be heard Friday on the Ron Flatter Racing Pod. “I’m focusing on preparing for the races. But you know, it’s the Breeders’ Cup. These are big, deep fields, and there’s generous odds on a lot of nice horses.”

If the morning line is the prism to find his best grass horse this week, the focus falls on Domestic Spending, who is 4-1 to win Saturday’s $4 million Turf. Last time out, the 4-year-old Kingman gelding who has three Grade 1 wins to his name suffered a close, upset loss Aug. 14 in the Grade 1 Mister D at Arlington Park. That runner-up finish snapped a four-race winning streak.

“He got caught in a slow pace, unfortunately, and it cost him the race,” Brown said. “Hopefully in this race with a full field, it looks like there’s enough pace signed on. It could it be more to his liking. I think the horse is going to run well fresh. I know he likes Del Mar; he’s 1-for-1 here (winning last November’s Grade 1 Hollywood Derby), and I didn’t feel the need to run the horse (since August).”

If Domestic Spending were to win, he would have to spoil the bid for a Turf repeat by Ireland-based mare Tarnawa, the 9-5 morning-line favorite.

“She’s a world-class worse, and she’s definitely one of the horses to beat,” Brown said. “But I really like my horse, and I think if he gets a clean trip, he's going to be right there.”

Brown also has Rockemperor (15-1), a closer like Domestic Spending, and Tribhuvan (20-1), a potential pacesetter, entered in the Turf.

If following the money and its likely path are any gauge, Brown’s best chance for a Breeders’ Cup victory this week come from his most talked-about dirt starter. With a division-best 102 Beyer Speed Figure, Jack Christopher is the 9-5 favorite to win Friday’s $2 million Juvenile.

One problem is he was drawn into the rail post for the 1 1/16-mile race. Another is that he has never gone two turns, although that fact did not keep Brown from training Good Magic’s Juvenile victory over the same Del Mar main track four years ago.

“It’s a test for the horse, and he’s drawn inside,” Brown said. “I would have preferred to be outside, to be honest, but it is what it is. He’s got good speed. Hopefully, he breaks clean from the gate and gets out there, and we’ll let (jockey) José (Ortiz) take it from there. I have confidence the horse will be able to get the two turns here at Del Mar.”

Brown’s other dirt entrants, Beldame Invitational winner Royal Flag (8-1) and Spinster runner-up Dunbar Road (15-1), are out to upset Horse of the Year candidate Letruska (8-5) in Saturday’s $2 million Distaff.

“Both horses are coming into the race very well,” Brown said. “Obviously, Dunbar drew outside (in post 11), so she’s going to have to get over and come with some sort of trip. But I love the way that they’re training, and if the pace sets up the right way, I think that they’ll make a nice late run.”

If Brown has a horse who came to Del Mar with more momentum than the rest of his stable, a case may be made for Blowout (8-1), who is entered in the $2 million Mile. The 5-year-old Dansili mare came back from a credible, fourth-place finish against the boys in the Grade 1 Fourstardave Handicap at Saratoga for a gate-to-wire victory last month in the Grade 1 First Lady at Keeneland.

“She’s in career form,” Brown said. “She finally got that elusive Grade 1 win; it was nice to get that done in her last year of racing. She’s earned the right to compete here.”

Blowout is not alone representing the Brown stable in the Mile. He also has a 6-year-old long shot who is a three-time Grade 1 winner.

“I think Raging Bull (15-1) is going to run well for me,” Brown said. “I think it’s going to be a bit of a jailbreak when they turn for home, and it may come down to a trip in that race.”

Blowout and Raging Bull must face the likes of Space Blues (3-1), the 5-year-old European horse who has won seven of his last nine races for Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby, including last month’s Group 1 Prix de la Forêt on a heavy course in France.

“He looks formidable,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a tall order (for Blowout) to run against the boys here, but she’s in top form.”

Projected odds suggest Brown’s best 2-year-old on the Del Mar grass Friday will be Portfolio Company (6-1), a two-time graded-stakes runner-up at 1 1/16 miles who drew post 10 for the one-mile Juvenile Turf.

“He’s drawn well,” Brown said about the Kitten’s Joy colt. “I wanted to get him outside. He’s a bit of a keen horse. I think he’ll get a much kinder run in the first turn out there, and I think he’ll also appreciate the cutback to a mile.”

Brown also has Consumer Spending (8-1) and Haughty (10-1) in Friday’s Juvenile Fillies Turf, a race he has won five times, and My Sister Nat (15-1) and Pocket Square (15-1) in Saturday’s Filly & Mare Turf, which he has won three times.

Those cases of repeated success should have bettors thinking twice before fading Brown this week.

“It’s quite a puzzle to handicap these races,” he said. “I wish everyone a lot of luck doing that.”

Ron Flatter’s racing column is available every Friday at VSiN.com with more frequent articles this week during the Breeders’ Cup. The Ron Flatter Racing Pod is also available at VSiN.com/podcasts. This week features a pop-up episode being posted Wednesday afternoon with Las Vegas bookmakers Chris Andrews, Johnny Avello and Duane Colucci handicapping all 14 championship races. Friday’s regular episode features jockey Mike Smith, trainers Chad Brown, Brad Cox and Bill Mott, XBTV’s Zoe Cadman and Jeff Siegel and workout analyst Bruno De Julio. The RFRP is available for free subscription at iHeart, Apple, Google, Spotify and Stitcher. It is sponsored by 1/ST BET.

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