SARATOGA SPRINGS — Sistercharlie was going against three stablemates in the Grade I Diana, each of whom had competed in at least one race this year, something the 5-year-old mare couldn’t claim. But as winning jockey John Velazquez said, “You’ve got to give it to Chad.”
Yes, you do.
It’s been both a good and bad year for trainer Chad Brown. The conditioner of around 250 horses entered Saturday second in earnings for trainers with $13,967,906, trailing Steve Asmussen by about $300,000, but there’s the matter of earnings per start. Asmussen’s is $12,495, while Brown’s is $37,377. Brown has won 28 percent of the races he has entered and finished in the money 63 percent of the time. That in-the-money percentage will go up after the Diana.
The bad is the fallout he’s received for being fined $1.6 million by the U.S. Department of Labor this spring after its investigation of Brown revealed he didn’t pay 150 grooms and hotwalkers overtime, among other issues.
But the three-time defending Eclipse Award-winning trainer can help horses do great things, as was seen Saturday when his Sistercharlie, Rushing Fall and Homerique took the top three spots in the $500,000 race on Saratoga Race Course’s inner turf.
Brown actually had four of the six horses in the race. And the fourth, Thais, served as a perfect rabbit, since Thais and Sistercharlie are both owned by Peter Brant.
Sistercharlie hadn’t raced since capturing the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf on Nov. 3, but Brown bypassed running her in the Grade II New York on June 7 because she got sick and focused on getting her ready to defend her title in the 1 ⅛-mile Diana.
With a bullet workout at Belmont Park on June 30 and a maintenance work on July 7 to freshen her, Sistercharlie stayed well behind the pace of her stablemate Saturday and took command inside the one-eighth pole and went on to win by a length and three-quarters. She improved her record to eight wins in 12 starts and career earnings of $2,850,603.
In winning his fourth straight Diana and fifth overall, Brown called the 1-2-3 finish remarkable.
“It’s unfortunate any one of them had to lose,” he said. “They all ran winning races, but that’s why we ran them. We wanted to settle it on the track. Each of the horses individually deserved this chance today to run, so we gave it to them.”
By Your Side wins
By Your Side gave sire Constitution his first graded stakes win with a 3-length win in the Grade III, $150,000 Sanford for 2-year-olds.
Under Irad Ortiz, By Your Side took over in the homestretch and went charging past the wire as if it weren’t there. He finished the 6 furlongs on a fast main track in 1:10.22.
“He’s good, but he might be even better going longer,” winning trainer Eddie Kenneally said. “He’s shown a lot of talent from the time Eddie Woods broke him as a baby. Eddie’s been bragging on him all winter at his farm in Ocala. He came to me at Keeneland in April and just continued on from there. He’s never done a thing wrong.”
Kenneally also won the Sanford in 2016 with Bitumen.
Tomato Bill withstood an inquiry and objection from jockey Javier Castellano aboard third-place finisher Raging Whiskey to take second.
The New York Racing Association is doing away with the multiple-ticket purchase areas for the giveaways, so it’s back to spinning through the turnstiles if you want more than one of the insulated collapsible coolers being given away Sunday.