Trainer Chad Brown has exited a fruitful Belmont Stakes Racing Festival well-armed to launch his annual summer assault on graded stakes throughout the country.
Many in his arsenal landed a blow this weekend, but arguably none more impressive than Jack Christopherwho smashed the Grade 1 Woody Stephens by 10 lengths under a Jose Ortiz hand ride.
All in all, Brown confirmed that, “everyone looks OK” on Sunday morning.
Jim Bakke, Gerald Isbister, Coolmore Stud and Peter Brant’s Jack Christopher remained undefeated from four starts and will now likely stretch out in trip and seek his third Grade 1 victory in the $1 million Haskell Stakes on July 23 at Monmouth Park.
“We’re probably headed to the Haskell and I couldn’t be more pleased,” Brown said. “I think he’ll be able to (handle nine furlongs). He switches off nicely and is a very kind horse.”
It is rare that Brown starts a long shot, much less pulls the pari-mutuel wool over the betting public’s eyes and wins with them, but that is roughly what occurred in the Manhattan (G1) when Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Caruso’s Tribhuvan did one placing better than last year’s Manhattan when taking the 10-furlong affair in gate-to-wire fashion at 19-1 odds.
One of four in the race for the barn, he was followed home by the shortest price of the quartet in Madaket Stables, Dubb, and Louis Lazzinnaro’s 4-1 second-choice Adhamo, with Flavien Prat up, who placed in his second consecutive Grade 1 after a third in the Turf Classic on May 7 at Churchill Downs.
“I think a little more pace in the race will help Adhamo,” Brown said. “Obviously, we had the frontrunner, but he carved out modest fractions and was able to wire them. Adhamo seemed to be jammed up at moments when he was trying to run and I think his losses are a matter of circumstances. I think Flavien played the hand he was dealt and did the best he could do with it. He had some trouble and steadied into the first turn and at different times he was constantly tapping the breaks on the horse. It was not the trip he was looking for and he did the best he could to get second, which I’m very appreciative for. I think with more pace and a clear run, I think you’ll see the best of him.
“I’m not sure what I’ll do with him,” Brown added. “The distances will be a little tricky. He would have been a perfect horse for the Arlington Million in ‘the old days’ at Arlington Park, we’ll call it now.”
Brown said Tribhuvan is likely to target a title defense in the United Nations (G1) on the Haskell undercard.
“As far as Tribhuvan, we’ll probably head to the United Nations again with him,” Brown continued. “I think it’s fair to say that (10 to 11 furlongs) is his trip.”
Brant’s impressive Bleecker Street remained undefeated with a closing victory in Friday’s 10-furlong New York (G1), while divisional leader Regal Glory stretched her win streak to four and won her third Grade 1 of the past six months in the Just a Game over one miles.
Brown said Bleecker Street will target the $500,000 Diana (G1) on July 16 at Saratoga, while Regal Glory will point to the Spa’s $500,000 Fourstardave (G1), which offers a “win and you’re in” berth to the Breeders’ Cup Mile .
One of the most admirable unsuccessful efforts of the day for Brown was that of Klaravich Stables’ 2021 Acorn (G1) winner Search Results, who finished a game third under Irad Ortiz, Jr. after dueling for the lead with champion Letruska in the Ogden Phipps (G1).
“That was the only disappointment of the day,” Brown said. “There’s been some chatter about if we had a plan and we had the opposite plan. It just didn’t unfold well. I’m not going to beat up Irad over it. People make mistakes and he’s been riding so well – especially for us – and it just didn’t work out.
“Our plan was to get position in second, ahead of the three closers, and keep Letruska in our sights and not head her,” he continued. “What happened is she broke OK and he asked her to get up in gear and she went from first to fifth gear quick and he had his hands full. I think in hindsight we both feel she is fast enough to inherit second on her own and not kind of jam her into fifth gear. I don’t think she would have grabbed the bit like she did. She could have been a few lengths back and not with the horse next to her. I think it would have been a much different result. Our plan and my instructions were to turn it into a two-horse race and if you have a speed duel, you turn it into an all-horse race.
“It’s unfortunate because we saw her run as well as she did after going three-quarters in 1:09 and still being around at the finish – she had it in her to run her career top yesterday and it just wasn’t executed right. I am not sure where she goes next.”
Other disappointments for Brown included beaten favorites Speak of the Devil, fourth of five to Regal Glory in the Just a Game at even-money, and Rougir, fifth of seven in the New York at 3-5 odds.
“I’m not sure what we’ll do yet with Speak of the Devil,” Brown said. “Rougir is possible for the Diana, particularly if the ground comes up soft.”