Brainard Takes Aim at Breeders Crown Sophomore Filly Pace
by Perry Lefko for Breeders Crown
You might say Tracy Brainard and her partner Josh Marks are firing some serious bullets in this year’s Breeders Crown. Team Brainard has a six-pack of horses owned by the powerful Bulletproof Stables of Boca Raton, Florida, which will be represented by eight horses in three of the eight races.
Team Brainard has benefitted hugely since receiving some horses in July, 2008 from Bulletproof, including Hawaiian Drink and If I Can Dream. Neither factored in their respective Breeders Crown races – Hawaiian Drink placed seventh in the two-year-old filly pace, while If I Can Dream placed fifth in the two-year-old colt pace – but that was then.
The Brainard Bunch include: the powerful threesome of Kabbalah Karen B, Yellow Diamond and Shacked Up in the three-year-old filly pace race (Kabbalah Karen B and Yellow Diamond were supplemented to for a cost of $62,500 apiece); Higher And Higher in the two-year-old filly pace, and If I Can Dream and Vertical Horizon in the three-year-old colt pace.
“It would be really exciting to (win a race) this year, and we have some great horses,” Brainard said. “It would be great for them as well as for us. I think the (three-year-old) fillies are in good shape. We supplemented two of our best fillies and we’re fortunate enough to have four of the top three-year-old fillies racing this year.”
Showherthemoney, who won the Garnsey Stakes last time out, is headed toward Yonkers next week to race in the Lady Maud Stakes. Another stellar filly, Not Enough, who won the Fan Hanover Stakes earlier this year, is on a break.
The Brainard stable picked up Yellow Diamond this year, to add to what had already been a strong corps of sophomore fillies.
“I think Showherthemoney (winner of the Jugette) and Not Enough have shown they are great mares, and Shacked Up is a great filly,” Brainard said. “I think she’s the least respected, and last year she was injured and they didn’t think she’d ever race again. For her to come back as a three-year-old and be as tough as she is, that’s pretty exciting, too.”
If I Can Dream, winner of the Confederation Cup, the Tattersalls Stakes and second in the Little Brown Jug, finished a disappointing fourth last week in a qualifier for the Crown. Brainard chalked it up to a poor trip and some equipment changes that possibly didn’t work out for him.
“I’m confident in my horse,” said Brainard. “It’s a field of really great horses that he has to compete against. At his best he’s been great. He raced great at the Jug. He raced at Lexington (in the Tattersalls). I think he goes into the Breeders Crown at 100 percent and it will be a horse race.”
If I Can Dream’s name certainly applies to the season the Brainard/Marks tandem have had. The Brainard Stable is now among the top race-winning and purse-earning trainers in North America. She is second in North America with more than $6.7 in purse earnings and eighth overall in wins with 203 from 778 starts.
In Ontario, where she has a full-time string of horses for the first time and who are overseen by Marks, Brainard is the leader in purse earnings with more than $3.1 million and is second in wins with 79.
“We still do the same thing we’ve always done,” Brainard said with a laugh. “We’ve just taken good care of the horses. It’s the caliber of horses that we’re training that’s changed.”
While Brainard looked after a string of horses at her base in New York, Marks oversaw a separate contingent for the first time in Ontario. It’s resulted in a dream-like season that has included wins in the Confederation Cup, Tattersalls, Fan Hanover and a runnerup finish in the Little Brown Jug. And those are just a few of the highlights.
“We talked all year about going to the Jug and the Jugette and Breeders Crown and the Matron and a lot of these big races, but in February, March and April, that’s just a dream,” Brainard said. “You don’t know if you’ll ever make it that far. We’ve done well in most of the big races we’ve attended, so that’s been really exciting. You make plans to go in the spring (to the big races), thinking you have good horses, but in the fall when you look back and say, ‘Wow, we really did it,’ that’s pretty amazing.”
So is Brainard excited about her overall chances this year in the Crown?
“Absolutely,” she exclaimed.
Indeed, a win in the Crown would crown off a great year.