Brown gets first chance at Travers

Not only does trainer Chad Brown, a Mechanicville native, have horses entered in six races Saturday,

The Brown family knows the drill: Get there early, get that picnic table.

When Chad Brown gets a chance between races, he likes to head back there for a breather.

Fat chance of that happening this Saturday.

Not only does the Mechanicville native have horses entered in six races, but, for the first time in his career, he’ll saddle one in the big race, the $1 million 142nd running of the Travers at Saratoga Race Course.

Bowman’s Causeway is a 12-1 long shot on the morning line and will break from the rail against nine rivals, who include 5-2 favorite and Jim Dandy winner Stay Thirsty.

Brown, 32, said he’s going to approach this Travers like any other big race day. In Grade I races at Saratoga, he saddled Smooth Air in the 2009 Whitney and won the Diana with Zagora on July 30.

“I saw so many Travers coming up here, and it seems to be an exciting race every year, really,” he said. “I can’t think of a disappointing Travers, so it’s exciting to be a part of it, to lead a horse over that I have a shot with.”

The Ontario-bred Bowman’s Causeway has made three starts in Canada for Brown since being transferred from Patrick Biancone’s barn by owner Martin Schwartz.

Brown had considered sending Bowman’s Causeway to the Breeders’ Stakes at Woodbine, the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown.

The colt was fourth to Inglorious in the Queen’s Plate and just missed by a nose to Pender Harbour in the Prince of Wales, and the Breeders’ Stakes offered a $500,000 purse.

Brown believes the time is ripe to take a shot at something much bigger than that with Bowman’s Causeway, who had a productive work on Saturday.

With Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom sidelined for the rest of the year, the 3-year-olds will be jostling for position in the div­ision.

Besides Stay Thirsty, the Travers has drawn Preakness winner Shackleford, who drew the outside post, Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice and Haskell winner Coil. Shackleford and Ruler On Ice were second and third, respectively, in the Haskell.

Despite those credentials, Brown believes Bowman’s Causeway, a closer, belongs in the traditional mile-and-a-quarter highlight of the meet.

“It’s a combination of things,” Brown said. “Since I’ve had him, he has gradually improved. I think he’s sitting on his best race right now. Whether it is fast enough, I’m not sure. But I’m going to take a shot. To me, it’s the one race I want to win more than any other race, more than the Derby, Breeders’ Cup, or anything. For me, it’s the one I want to get, but I wouldn’t run a horse in there unless I could win.”

Brown said he can’t remember his first Travers, but he’s been coming to the track with his family since he was about 8.

The backyard proved to be an oasis from the hectic scramble of Travers Day, but still close enough to the action.

“My family still likes to go in the picnic area and hang out, that’s where they prefer to be, and I go over there and visit them all the time between the races,” he said. “It’s nice and relaxing back there. Probably one of the best things about Saratoga is the picnic area. You can’t get this anywhere else in the country.

“I don’t know. It’ll probably be the same as it has been when I ran one in the Whitney and one in the Diana this year. You just try to approach it the same way and try not to feel any differently about it.”

Besides the Travers, Brown has horses entered in the first, third, fourth and seventh, and his other stakes starter will be Desert Sage in the eighth, the Grade II Ballston Spa on the turf.

The Travers, which will be tel­evised live on NBC during a 5-6 p.m. broadcast, along with the Grade I King’s Bishop, is scheduled to go to post at 5:45.

Because of Bowman’s Causeway’s late-running style, Brown said the rail post shouldn’t be a problem for the colt and jockey Ramon Dominguez.

“I’m OK with it,” Brown said. “I wanted to be middle to inside. I just didn’t want an outside post. We have the one, so we’ll just take the shortest way home. I’m all about saving ground and taking the shortest trip home.”

It’s likely everybody will be keeping an eye on the Preakness winner from the far outside, anyway.

Shackleford’s trainer, Dale Romans, said his colt will take it out hard and see who wants to go with him, as he and jockey Jesus Castanon did at Pimlico.

“I think it’s perfect,” Romans said of the post draw. “Ruler On Ice might press him a little bit coming out of there, but that’s OK. You know he’s going to be in front. A 10-horse field going a mile-and-a-quarter, you shouldn’t be using post position as an excuse. That or the track. You shouldn’t need excuses for Grade I horses.”

“If Shackleford wants to go, that’s fine,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who will saddle Stay Thirsty. “If Shackleford decides to sit back, [Stay Thirsty] is so tactical, he can be close or sit back a little bit. Obviously we’d like a similar trip to what we got in the Jim Dandy, but he’s not a horse we have to worry too much about pace scenarios or a whole lot of tactics.”

Coil had been on the fence for the Travers because he somehow scratched his eye, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert said during the Travers draw, as Coil himself schooled right there in the paddock.

“It seems like we have it under control, he worked very well yesterday,” Baffert said. “He looked like the Coil that, when he works like that he usually runs well. I was looking for something like that. He came out of the race great, he seems pretty happy after the work and today, so it’s good to be able to participate in the Travers.”

This will be the California-based Baffert’s third Travers starter. He won it in 2001 and was third in 2005 with Roman Ruler.

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