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OCEANPORT, NJ – Golden Brown isn’t just enjoying his golden years; he’s excelling in them.
The 6-year-old gelding notched his sixth state-bred stakes victory and the 10th overall win of his career by surging to a 1-length victory over Like What I See in Sunday’s $85,000 Joey P. Handicap at Monmouth Park.
The victory was one of 6 winners on the 12-race card for jockey Paco Lopez.
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Though he had never raced at the 5-furlong distance in his previous 30 career starts while also being absent from the turf since November 9, 2019, Golden Brown overcame both variables to outclass eight other Jersey-breds, clocking home in :56.55 over a firm turf course.
“Year after year, he just shows up here,” said winning trainer Pat McBurney. “He’s getting up there in age, but (the final time) today was really impressive, I thought. He seems to be as good as he has ever been.”
A Grade 3 winner in 2018 (the Kent Stakes at Delaware Park), the son of Offlee Wild boosted his career earnings to $744,620 with his latest victory. It was also his second state-bred stakes victory of the meet.
“I was worried about him being back on the turf and trying this short but he is a very good sprinter,” said Lopez. “He is one of those horses who can do anything. I wanted to make sure he was in a good position so maybe I rode him a little more aggressively early because of this race being short.
“Every time you ask him, he gives you something. I love this horse. Long, short, dirt, turf … he can handle anything.”
Lopez has an insurmountable lead as he closes in on his eighth riding title at Monmouth Park entering the final weekend of racing starting Friday. His 100 winners are almost double the total of runner-up Isaac Castillo (53).
For Golden Brown, meanwhile, it marked the first time in his lengthy career that he has tried something shorter than 5 1/2 furlongs. His racing debut in 2017 was at 4 1/2 furlongs. He has won short, long, in the slop, on the dirt, and on the turf.
“I would have preferred 5 1/2 furlongs over 5, but he has been sprinting so well this year we needed to take a shot,” said McBurney. “I literally said to the owners as the horses were going into the gate that I did not realize it had been so long that he has been on the turf. The 1 long turf race he would normally run in (the Dan Horn) was canceled this year so we didn’t have that to run in, and just with him having been a little sick and playing catch up with him, I decided to keep him short and in Jersey-bred company. We can’t pass that up.”
Owned by ABL Stable, Dominic Bossone, Peter Donnelly, and Natalie Schnoor, Golden Brown was mid-pack in the early stages as I Like What I See blazed early fractions of :22 flat for the opening 1/4-mile and :44.96 for the 1/2.
Lopez angled Golden Brown outside coming out of the final turn going three-wide and was able to wear down I Like What I See late. It was another 4 lengths back to the McBurney-trained Lucky Jaime in third.
Golden Brown paid $4.80 to win.
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