OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Trainer Chad Brown closed out 2015 as another year to remember. Coming off a career year in which he earned his first Eclipse Award finalist nomination for Outstanding Trainer, Brown followed up with an even better year, surpassing $20.26 million in earnings with 203 victories from 768 starters, finishing in the money 56.9 percent of the time.
Known for his proficiency on the turf, Brown’s stable collected nine Grade 1 victories on the green, while also eschewing the label of being limited to one surface, collecting his first Breeders’ Cup win on the dirt with Wavell Avenue in the Filly & Mare Sprint.
For his lofty efforts, the Mechanicville, N.Y. native, who initially studied under the tutelage of late Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel as his assistant before going out on his own, has earned his second consecutive Eclipse Award nomination for Outstanding. Perhaps the most telling to the depth and talent of his stable, is that he was able to accomplish his latest banner year without Eclipse Award winner and star filly Lady Eli, who suffered from laminitis after winning the Grade 1 Belmont Oaks in July.
Since saddling the very first runner under his care nearly a decade ago, Brown has rapidly ascended the training ranks to become one of the most respected and premier horsemen within the industry. At just 37 years old, he was the leading trainer on the New York Racing Association circuit in 2015 in both wins and purse money, while also remarkably achieving the personal feat of passing his own record for yearly wins and purse totals for the eighth straight year.
Speaking from his winter training base at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach, Fla., Brown reflected on his banner season and what he would still like to accomplish going forward.
Question: What was your proudest achievement last year as a stable?
Answer: The fact we were able to increase our earnings as a stable, and the win total for the year is certainly something I’m proud of. I have a great team that works alongside me, and it’s a credit to all the work we put in daily.
Q: Increasing your win totals and earnings is a feat you’ve managed to achieve every year since going out on your own. Is that a specific goal you set out to accomplish each season?
A: Yes, we’re always looking to improve and do better each year as a whole and hopefully provide good results for our clients, which we’ve been fortunate to do and hope to continue to do in the future.
Q: Is there any one victory last year that stands out?
A: All of them were special in their own right. Obviously, the Breeders’ Cup wins are always significant. Lady Eli winning the Belmont Oaks and the way she did it going 1 ¼ miles, not to mention Slumber winning the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day, where we had a great day, and it being just a race before American Pharoah won the Triple Crown, that was special.
Q: You’ve previously said that Lady Eli is the most talented horse you’ve ever trained. How is she coming along since returning to your care?
A: She’s doing very well. She’s been excellent so far since returning to us. We don’t have a specific target for her yet, but we’re continuing to bring her along.
Q: How important was it for you winning your first Breeders’ Cup dirt race with Wavell Avenue?
A: It was a very important win for our stable and business. Obviously, we’ve had success with our horses on the turf, so it was nice to also pick up a Grade 1 victory on the dirt, and the way Wavell Avenue was able to end her year coming back and win off her good effort in the Gallant Bloom was encouraging.
Q: What races have you yet won that you would like to win?
A: Of course, just off the top of my head there are the Triple Crown races and the Travers, that would be special to win being from the area. We’ll continue to work towards those goals.
Q: 2016 has already gotten off to a good start for you with Flexibility winning the Grade 3 Jerome and Life Imitates Art in the Grade 3 Dania Beach. What goals have you set for the stable this year?
A: We’re always working throughout the year to point to and win Grade 1 races, and long term, targeting the Breeders’ Cup. As well, hopefully, we can attack the Triple Crown trail with some of the talented diverse group of colts we have in the barn.