SARATOGA SPRINGS — Chad Brown was OK with standing in a lesser spotlight on Friday.
On the same day that Todd Pletcher was inducted into the National Racing Hall of Fame and Steve Asmussen tied the all-time career record for training wins, Brown won the 10th and final race on the Saratoga Race Course card to hit the 2,000 career victory milestone.
The safest bet on the planet probably is that Asmussen will pass the late Dale Baird for the all-time record on Saturday, after Asmussen won with both of his Friday starters, Jalen Journey in the fourth race at Saratoga and Shanghai’s Dream in the sixth at Ellis Park in Kentucky to tie Baird’s total of 9,445.
He has 14 horses entered in 13 races at four tracks on Saturday, including Silver State in the $1 million Whitney at Saratoga.
Besides the 10th race at Saratoga, Brown also won the Grade II National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame stakes with Public Sector.
After the 10th race, Brown was presented with a commemorative sign marking the 2,000th win, but deflected the attention to Pletcher and Asmussen, who was inducted to the Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.
“There’s a lot going on, with Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, two of the greatest trainers of all-time,” he said with a chuckle. “And hopefully maybe we get a little blurb at the bottom getting 2,000, I don’t know. But those two guys deserve all of the attention today on just remarkable careers, and still going strong.”
“That’s how I feel about it, it was meant to be,” Asmussen told the Ellis Park media office by phone. “Unbelievably significant win to me and the family. To be able to share the lead-up, getting close, all of the unbelievable support I’ve had and the well wishes, to be able to get to 9,445 — which we’ve strived for quite some time — to be surrounded by family, what could be better?”
Brown was especially gratified that both of his winners are owned by long-time client Seth Klarman of Klaravich Stables.
“We’ve become very, very close friends, and he’s been very loyal to our stable and provides us with these wonderful horses, like you saw today with Public Sector,” Brown said. “A real sportsman who always does right by the horse, and he gets rewarded for that, I believe.”
In the NMRHOF, Public Sector stalked the pace set by Next under Flavien Prat and closed well to win by a length over Annex.
“Our plan was to leave out of there with intention,” Brown said. “It looked like there was a lot of speed on paper, but make them go, get our spot and if they’re going to go, go. If not, we’ll be there.
“As it turned out, they actually weren’t going. The 47 and 3 [47.56 seconds for the first half-mile] is solid, but it’s been dry here and in a graded race at Saratoga, that’s not that fast for these horses. Flavien does many things wonderfully, and that was one of them. He gives you a chance to win by adapting to the pace right away. If you give him the right horse, he’s going to deliver for you.”
In his first start for trainer Bill Mott after coming to his barn six weeks ago, Art Collector, owned by Bruce Lunsford, re-established himself as a strong nine-furlong stakes horse by winning the $120,000 Alydar.
He had been based in Kentucky his entire career, winning the Blue Grass over Swiss Skydiver last year before finishing fourth to her in the Preakness and fourth to Knicks Go in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile.
Art Collector led all the way to win the Alydar by 1 1/2 lengths as the 9-5 betting favorite.
“All I had to do was look at his form and see what he had done before,” Mott said. “If you look back on his nine-furlong races, he had run very well for the previous trainer.
“Both Tommy Drury and I train for Bruce, and Bruce wanted the horse in Saratoga. Tommy sent him up to us, and he was in good shape when he came.
“Maybe if you look at the horse’s form, maybe he lost his way in the last race or two and been unlucky for one reason or other. I think we wanted to pick out a little bit of a softer spot to start out, and I’m glad we were able to do that to get us and the horse off on the right foot.”
Mott said they’ll look at a class jump for Art Collector’s next start. The mile-and-a-quarter Jockey Club Gold Cup is scheduled for Sept. 4 at Saratoga, and the nine-furlong Woodward is Oct. 2 at Belmont Park.
Also on Friday’s card, Fast Boat won the Grade III Troy under Tyler Gaffalione.
“When he’s doing well and when he’s going to run a big race, everything pointed to his effort today,” trainer Joe Sharp said. “The weather cooperated today. He prefers a firm turf course, and for the Jaipur he lost his opportunity at the Grade I with the give in the ground.
“But I’m not taking anything away from today. We’re super proud to be here and honored. Winning at Saratoga is big, let alone winning a graded stakes.”
BUTTER LOU EUTHANIZED
Butter Lou, a 2-year-old trained by Robert Falcone, was euthanized after injuring his right front leg after the sixth race on Thursday.
He won his career debut by three-quarters of a length in the sixth race on the card, then was vanned off with an injury suffered during the gallop-out past the wire.
It was the third equine death due to injuries suffered during a race since the meet began on July 15, according to the New York State Gaming Commission’s Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database.
Three horses have died due to incidents during training since workouts began at Saratoga in April, one who collapsed after galloping out; another who got loose on the main track, ran into the barn area and suffered a pelvic injury in a fall; and another with a right hind injury on the main track.
NYRA announced that Senior Vice President of Racing Operations Martin Panza will leave that position at the conclusion of the Belmont Park fall meet on Oct. 31.
Since joining NYRA in 2013, Panza has been responsible for the leadership and oversight of racing functions at NYRA, including the overall development, planning, and execution of NYRA’s stakes offerings and daily racing programs.
One of Panza’s signature efforts was to bundle major stakes races into either a single day or across a series of days. Panza was also instrumental in the creation of the Turf Triple Series, which emulates the American dirt classics to shine a spotlight on the finest 3-year-old turf runners on the male and female side.
Panza played a leading role in the formation of a coalition of leading thoroughbred racing associations and organizations committed to phasing out the use of the anti-pulmonary bleeding drug Lasix. Subsequently, the coalition eliminated the use of Lasix in all 2-year-old races in 2020 followed by all stakes races in 2021. As a result, the three Triple Crown races are now contested without the use of race day medication.
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