In a year when several prominent racing divisions lack standout leaders, the older turf horse Bricks and Mortar has thrown his hat in the ring for Horse of the Year consideration.
The talented 5-year-old enhanced his budding reputation with a powerful late-running triumph in the $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) on Kentucky Derby Day at Churchill Downs. The victory brought Bricks and Mortar’s 2019 record to a perfect 3-for-3, all in graded stakes races, and he achieved his success in exactly the same manner as his previous victories—with a relentless, unwavering rally from off the pace.
From a pace perspective Bricks and Mortar received no favors. Reserved toward the rear of the field by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr., Bricks and Mortar found himself between horses and trapped in traffic, while the leaders were waltzing through modest fractions of :24.33, :50.10, and 1:15.08. When the field turned for home, it appeared Bricks and Mortar might have been left with too much ground to close, since the pace-pressing longshots Qurbaan and Clyde’s Image were finishing strongly on the front end.
But when Bricks and Mortar lengthened his stride and kicked into gear, his rally was resolute. Shifting outside for a clear run, the son of Giant’s Causeway caught Qurbaan with a well-timed surge to win by a comfortable half-length. He stopped the clock for 1 1/8 miles in 1:51.80 over a rain-soaked course labeled “good,” though it seemed to be softer. Qurbaan, gallant to the wire, out-finished Clyde’s Image by 1 1/4 lengths for the runner-up spot, while Raging Bull completed the superfecta.
Trained by Chad Brown, Bricks and Mortar picked his second grade 1 win of the season, having previously defeated a high-class field in the Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) in January. With stakes wins at Belmont Park, Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs under his belt, it’s clear Bricks and Mortar can bring his “A” game to any racecourse, whether it’s rated firm, good, yielding or somewhere in between.
Following the Turf Classic, Brown revealed the June 8 Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1) at Belmont to be Bricks and Mortar’s next target. The 1 1/4-mile race will be Bricks and Mortar’s longest to date, but should he prevail—and claim his third grade 1 win of the season—he’ll have staked his claim as an early favorite for Horse of the Year honors.