The days were ticking away and Bruce Brown's barn on the Oklahoma Training Track was showing the signs of a waning meeting.
Occupied stalls alternated with empty stalls along the shedrow, the horses left behind slated to run over closing weekend or those left behind not far from shipping back downstate to Belmont Park. He was fairly loaded for the last few days of the meeting, including a busy closing day when he was already back home in Floral Park with his wife and three children.
"I've got a lot in closing day and I'm not going to be here," Brown said with a laugh. "I'm going home Sunday, so they'll definitely win."
Brown admits it was a rough Saratoga for his stable, a year removed from a career meet when he won nine races and two turf sprint stakes with Spring To The Sky. He won only two races through Wednesday, but still looks on the bright side.
"It's been a rough meet all around getting the horses in, and getting the right ones in," Brown said. "And if there's a good thing about all the seconds, at least we didn't lose any conditions."
Brown spent a few minutes the final Wednesday of the meet with The Special's Tom Law, walking up and down the shedrow, before heading off to school some of his closing weekend runners in the paddock before the races.
Love You Babe: "She's going to run closing day here, New York-bred 2-year-old filly by Not For Love who's been training well on the grass. She was just OK on the dirt but we breezed her on the grass and she's really breezed well there. We're hoping she shows us a little something on the last day."
Domestic Warrior: "He's a 3-year-old (by Majestic Warrior) who has never run, but shows a lot of promise. He probably won't run until Belmont but he should be pretty well meant."
Broadway Bay: "He might run closing day also, New York-bred, one-other-than. He's always competitive, broke his maiden up here so he likes it here."
Why Not Whiskey: "He's in (today, Race 7 for $35,000 claiming tag on the grass). He's had a bit of a layoff but he's always run well here at Saratoga.
Spring To The Sky: "The big horse. Had a rough meet up here, just starting to have some trouble getting out of the gate and it didn't help he was running against Joe Sharp's horse (Shore Runner). We caught the horse getting hot at the right time, which is exactly what we were last year. I told the owner that, too, he's doing exactly what we did. His thing is when he did so well last year when he would break he'd be 2 in front, then it was like game on, try and catch him. If he didn't break well it kind of messes up his whole mojo. That's his deal. We might actually stretch him out a little bit to where the break doesn't mean as much. In these 5 1/2 furlong races if you don't break it's over. We can get 7, flat mile down there and there isn't as much pressure on the break."
Lakeside Sunset: "Real nice New York-bred filly. She's another one, she chased Kathleen O'Connell's freak, Lady Shipman (and finished fifth in Aug. 3 Coronation Cup Stakes). Chased her all the way around here. She'll run down at Belmont. That filly is a monster."
Congress Park: "She could run closing day. She was one of my heartbreakers here, got beat a dirty nose (in Aug. 14 maiden special weight). She should have a good shot."
Same Kinda Crazy: "She's a 2-year-old New York-bred filly, probably won't run up here but will be ready to roll for Belmont. She's by Posse. Showed a lot of promise and I think she'll run on the dirt down there."
O K By Me: "She's in (today, Race 5) maiden New York-bred $40,000 claiming. Hasn't run, 3-year-old filly by Repent."
Ten Penny Princess: "She's another one of my seconds, she's in (today), maiden 40 New York-breds on the grass. She ran in that kind of race last time, just got beat. A lot of my heartbreaking seconds are coming back. Hopefully if they run how they did last time it should be good."
So Good To Go: "She's one we claimed up here. There's a few different races, I don't know that we'll get to run her here. We claimed her off Asmussen up here, older filly, for $25,000. She won that day and got disqualified. Her last two starts she's been disqualified. She has a little trouble staying straight so hopefully we can fix that."