Just how many high-class turf mares does trainer Chad Brown have in his stable?
In my opinion Brown trains six of the top 10 contenders for the Nov. 2 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park. When was the last time a single trainer conditioned half a dozen serious contenders for one Breeders’ Cup race?
Brown’s dominance shouldn’t come as a surprise. He has won the Filly & Mare Turf four times since 2012, and the extraordinary depth of his stable suggests it will be tough for anyone to deny him a fifth victory this fall.
Let’s meet Brown’s half-dozen contenders (plus a few other talented fillies and mares) in the first edition of my 2019 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare top 10.
An illness delayed Sistercharlie’s 2019 debut, but last year’s champion turf female has been training steadily for Chad Brown at Belmont Park and is targeting a return to action in the July 20 Diana Stakes (G1) at Saratoga. The Diana was one of four grade 1 wins recorded by Sistercharlie during her stellar 2018 campaign, which concluded with a hard-fought triumph in the Filly & Mare Turf. If Sistercharlie picks up where she left off, she’ll remain the leader of this deep division.
In Sistercharlie’s absence, her Chad Brown-trained stablemate Rushing Fall has filled in nicely, with wins in the Jenny Wiley Stakes (G1) and Just a Game Stakes (G1) to assume early leadership of the division. Rushing Fall has excellent tactical speed and a strong finishing kick, which has allowed her to compile an 8-for-9 record, highlighted by a triumph in the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). But Rushing Fall enjoyed easy, uncontested leads in both the Jenny Wiley and the Just a Game. She might not be as dominant if she faces pace pressure at longer distances.
Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) runner-up has faced males in her last five starts and could certainly target the Turf once again, but a cutback in distance for the Filly & Mare Turf is also an option. Although she’s been effective running 1 1/2 miles, the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Filly & Mare Turf might be more suitable for Magical. Some of her best races, including a romping win in the 2019 Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1), have been roughly 1 1/4 miles in distance.
A two-time Group 1-placed runner in France, Homerique has thrived under the care of Chad Brown in North America, kicking off 2019 with back-to-back victories in the Beaugay Stakes (G3) and New York Stakes (G2). The former was impressive since Homerique rallied from last place behind very slow fractions to prevail by half a length, while the latter was noteworthy since it proved Homerique can handle 1 ¼ miles just fine. Sistercharlie and Rushing Fall are attracting most of the attention, but Homerique might be just as talented.
Although Magic Wand could only finish fourth in the 2018 Filly & Mare Turf, she’s come back with some admirable performances against males this year, including a second (behind Horse of the Year candidate Bricks and Mortar) in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and a third in the Man o’ War Stakes (G1). But last year’s Filly & Mare Turf was held over 1 3/8 miles, possibly a furlong farther than Magic Wand really wants to run. Her overall race record suggests 1 1/4 miles is more in Magic Wand’s comfort zone, so she should appreciate cutting back in distance at Santa Anita this fall.
The 2018 American Oaks (G1) winner finished just behind stablemate Homerique in both the Beaugay and the New York Stakes, making her yet another talented contender from Brown’s deep stable.
This up-and-coming 3-year-old produced a strong finish to win a fast renewal of the 1 1/8-mile Wonder Again Stakes (G3), and in the process emerged as one of the favorites for the July 6 Belmont Oaks (G1). Not surprisingly, Cambier Parc is another trained by Brown.
The sixth and final Brown filly in my top 10, Newspaperofrecord was a sensational 2-year-old who dominated the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1) in frontrunning fashion. Newspaperofrecord has been beaten in both her starts this year, but she was rank early on in the Wonder Again Stakes while setting slow fractions and still managed to finish second. She might have been better off using her tactical speed to set a faster pace and could rebound if she relaxes better in the Belmont Oaks.
With 12 wins from her last 13 starts, including seven graded stakes triumphs, Vasilika has turned into a winning machine since being claimed by trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. She’s won four graded stakes races in 2019 alone, including the Gamely Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita, but Vasilika has yet to face the toughest competition and might need to step up her game to beat the best fillies and mares from the East Coast and Europe.
A slow early/fast late race shape compromised Beau Recall in the Just a Game Stakes (G1), but she nevertheless produced a big rally to finish second, beaten just 2 1/4 lengths by Rushing Fall. A better pace setup down the road could help this four-time stakes winner turn the tables.