Curious heads poke out of their stalls as trainer Bruce Brown zips back and forth from his barn to the Oklahoma Training Track in a red golf cart, overseeing his string of horses whose schedules he neatly organizes onto two white boards outside his tack room. (Editor's note: Originally published in Aug. 5 issue of The Saratoga Special.)
"Jog a mile-and-a-quarter," he instructs a rider as he got a leg up onto a bay.
"That's Night Officer right there," Brown says, gesturing to the gelding who was expected to make his first start of the 2016 Saratoga meet in the Lucky Coin Stakes July 25. Two days later, Night Officer scratched while stablemate Spring To The Sky represented the Brown barn and finished fourth.
Seemingly never without a smile and a positive comment, Brown praised Spring To The Sky's effort.
"He didn't get the break he needed, but he still ran great," he said.
A native of Maryland, Brown looks forward to seeing how his string led by several New York-breds and turf sprinters will perform this summer at Saratoga.
Interviewed last week - before he took down his first victory of the meet Thursday with Same Kinda Crazy - Brown took a few moments to pause in his shedrow and talk about his string with The Special's Annise Montplaisir.
Extinct Charm: A 3-year-old New York-bred ridgling by American Lion, he finished second in the New York Derby July 23 at Finger Lakes. "He's coming into the meet in top, top form. There's another stake here at the end of the meet (the Albany Aug. 26). He's a nice 3-year-old that we claimed."
Harpoon: A 5-year-old Tapit gelding who finished 11th in a July 30 allowance. "And then we have Harpoon, he's another older turf horse that ran, we're kind of stretching out into the marathon kind of races, and he ran well last time at Belmont. So he's set up for a good effort up here."
Ten Penny Princess: A 4-year-old chestnut filly by Thunder Gulch, she finished fourth in a starter allowance June 22 at Belmont. "She's another turf horse, I have a lot of them. I think the two turns up here will really help her. She's one of those fillies, the further the better."
Strawberry Tequila: A 2-year-old bay filly by Daaher out of Tequilas Dayjur, by Dayjur, she cost $130,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic two-year-old in training May sale. "Then we have Strawberry Tequila, that's a New York-bred filly. She'll probably run more toward the middle of the meet, but she's showing a little ability in the mornings, so she could be a decent one for middle, later part of the meet."
Lakeside Sunset: The 4-year-old daughter of Bellamy Road finished eighth in an allowance-optional June 16 at Belmont. "She's one that ran in a couple stakes last year. We gave her a little bit of a break, but she'll probably run towards the end of the meet. She's a very nice filly. She ran against Lady Shipman last year up here. She's doing really good."
You Promise: New York-bred Sidney's Candy filly cost $25,000 at Midlantic May 2-year-olds in training sale. She finished ninth in Thursday's sixth, a state-bred maiden special going 6 furlongs on the main track. "Another 2-year-old, she's a New York-bred filly, probably going to run her on the grass. We actually entered her, and she didn't get in the first turf race. She's a very nice filly."
Spring To The Sky: The Langfuhr gelding finished fourth in the Lucky Coin after tossing his head at the break. He won an allowance-optional July 4 at Belmont to end a four-race losing skid. "There's another stake later on in the meet, but he's doing really good. The Troy (is the stakes later in the meet), so he'll have the two races up here."
Night Officer: Off since finishing fourth in the Jim McKay Turf Sprint behind Ben's Cat, Spring To The Sky and Rocket Heat, the 8-year-old Officer gelding also entered and scratched out of Monday's sixth race when the 5 1/2-furlong allowance-optional was rained off the grass. "Probably the same thing for Night Officer, they're both kind of in the same condition. They're both doing super, they both seem to do really well up here."
Celtic Serenade: Fourth in a waiver maiden claimer July 16, she's a 3-year-old New York-bred Freud filly. "She ran once down at Belmont off the layoff. She's a turf filly that should run well up here, she should appreciate two turns. She's doing good, she seems to really have kind of come around since we got up here to Saratoga."
Latigo Trail: A 5-year-old bay gelding by Freud out of Trippi's Dream, he won a 5-furlong claimer on the turf July 15. "He's one that actually just ran in one at Monmouth. He loves the 5 1/2 on the turf up here, he's a very fast turf sprinter, so he should run good. He's a New York-bred also."
Same Kinda Crazy: Michael Schrader's and Paul O'Neill's 3-year-old Posse filly won Thursday's seventh, a $40,000 claimer going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. "It worked out perfect, we weren't sure about the 5 1/2 but she was close enough early where Kendrick (Carmouche) could find a seam and she finished up nice. It was a good effort."