Winning a grade 1 stakes is a grand achievement for any trainer.
Capturing a grade 1 stakes four years in a row puts a trainer in special company, which is where you will find Chad Brown. At 41 and already a four-time Eclipse Award recipient as the sport’s outstanding trainer, Brown registered another four-spot June 27 at Belmont Park when his dominance of the female turf division came to the fore and Klaravich Stables’ Newspaperofrecord gave him a fourth consecutive victory in the $250,000 Just a Game Stakes (G1T) for fillies and mares.
“It’s a great race to win. I’m very happy they kept it on the schedule,” Brown said.
Though the race was pushed back three weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic, that could not keep Brown from adding another Just a Game trophy to his mantle, joining the ones earned by Rushing Fall last year and A Raving Beauty and Antonoe before her.
“Maybe we can win one for Peter Brant one day,” Brown said about one of his main owners who raced Just a Game, the champion turf female of 1980.
It was owner Seth Klarman’s turn to pick up a Just a Game win Saturday as Newspaperofrecord continued her renaissance at 4 after a disappointing 3-year-old campaign in which she suffered the only three losses of her career.
Leading from start to finish in the one-turn, one-mile stakes on a course rated firm despite occasional rain, the daughter of Lope de Vega was ahead by 2 1/2 lengths after an easy half-mile in :48.13, and she cruised from there to a three-length win. A slight $1.05-to-1 favorite ($4.10), she finished in 1:35.62 under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr, beating Beau Recall to the wire with room to spare.
“Last year was a disappointment,” Ortiz said, “but she’s come back the right way this year. She has a good trainer behind her.”
Brown’s 2019 champion female turfer, Uni, was a half-length back in third as the $1.05-to-1 co-favorite while making her first start since a Nov. 2 victory in the TVG Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1T).
Got Stormy, the runner-up behind Uni in the Mile but winless in three 2020 starts, was scratched.
Newspaperofrecord won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1T) by 6 3/4 lengths in 2018, and her latest grade 1 win came on the heels of a four-length score in the June 6 Intercontinental Stales (G3T), which provided the first indication that her 2019 malaise was behind her. The bay filly came into 2019 with lofty expectations, but she found some distances too long for her at 3 and she finished second at odds of 1-5 in both of her first two starts that year. When her training soured after a ninth-place finish in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T), Brown put her on the sidelines and pointed to a 4-year-old campaign.
“It was mental more than physical,” Brown said, “so we turned her out, we let her grow into herself. She looks great. She’s grown a lot. She was a small filly at 2, wiry-looking, but she’s broadened out now. She’s relaxed in the morning, and the cutback in distance is part of the reason why she’s looking so good. We’re running her at the right distances.”
“I’m proud of her and proud of my staff for the job they have done with her. She’s training so comfortably. They brought her into the paddock looking magnificent.”
For Slam Dunk Racing and Medallion Racing’s Beau Recall, a 6-year-old Sir Prancealot mare trained by Brad Cox, rallying from last of six to take second was a nice step forward after finishing a troubled ninth in her 2020 debut, the Mint Julep Stakes (G3T) May 30 at Churchill Downs.
Given the fractions and some moisture in the course, it was a useful comeback effort for Uni. She was third along the inside after six furlongs but failed to deliver her usually powerful stretch kick for jockey Joel Rosario.
“She was fighting with the ground, but she’ll get a lot out of this,” Brown said about the 6-year-old More Than Ready mare owned by Robert LaPenta, Head of Plains Partners, Michael Dubb, and Bethlehem Stables.
With Brown also having Rushing Fall and Brant’s 2018 female turf champion, Sistercharlie, and multiple grade 1-winning male miler Raging Bull in his barn, he was understandably uncertain of future plans for both Newspaperofrecord and Uni.
Bred in Ireland by Times of Wigan, Newspaperofrecord improved to five wins in eight starts with earnings of $988,250. A daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor mare Sunday Times, the half sister to stakes-winning Classical Times was bought overseas by Klaravich Stables for $278,019 from the Goldford Stud consignment at the 2017 Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.
Lest we forget, Brown also sent out Paul Pompa Jr.’s Regal Glory to finish fourth during his four-bagger.
“Chad’s amazing. I have a lot of respect for him,” Ortiz said. “He’s helped a lot with my career, and what can I tell you, he’s one of the best trainers I’ve ever ridden for.”
Originally appeared in the Bloodhorse on June 27th 2020BACK TO NEWS