BALTIMORE — After Chad Brown trained Wavell Avenue to win the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, co-owner Michael Dubb said: “With Chad Brown, all things are possible.”
The 38-year-old wizard proved it again Saturday, when he won his Preakness debut with 13-1 shot Cloud Computing, who had raced only three times and began his career only three months ago. True to form, the crewcut, boyish-looking native of upstate Mechanicville shared the credit with his staff, and his modesty always comes off as genuine.
“You have to have an incredible team of people that share a common goal,” Brown said. “And everyone has to have the same drive as me. And I feel like I have that with my team — an outstanding jockey to work with in Javier [Castellano] and supportive owners that are patient.”
One of them is Seth Klarman, who co-owns Cloud Computing with William Lawrence. Klarman grew up three blocks from Pimlico Race Course and used to hang out there handicapping.
“It couldn’t happen to greater clients than Seth and Bill,” Brown said. “Seth, he got into racing by coming to Pimlico. He was just telling me he remembers coming out here to the infield as a kid. They are very deserving owners. It’s just unbelievable.”
Not really, because even though Cloud Computing’s profile didn’t fit that of the typical Preakness winner, if anybody could have pulled off this training feat, it was Brown. He has been a major player since he went out on his own in 2007, winning numerous New York training titles. Last year he set the Saratoga record with 40 wins, and later was voted his first Eclipse Award as leading trainer. Expect more of those trophies to fill his mantelpiece.
Brown learned from a master, the late Bobby Frankel, and he will be forever grateful to him. Frankel, a native of Brooklyn, was the type of trainer you learned from by watching. Brown apparently didn’t miss anything. When Frankel died in 2009, Brown flew from New York to California for the funeral.
“Winning a Triple Crown race for the first time, it’s such a huge thing,” Brown said. “And I was thinking about this in the winner’s circle. I’ve always praised my mentor, Bobby Frankel, who taught me so much. And it seems he won every race but the Derby and the Preakness, really. Those are the only races that eluded him in his unbelievable career.
“From my viewpoint, I feel this is for him. And without his mentorship, I certainly wouldn’t be here.”
Surpassing Frankel, an all-time great, is about as great a challenge a trainer could have. Brown has a great chance to follow him into the Hall of Fame at Saratoga Springs, not far from where Brown grew up.
“I’m not a horseman, but Chad is,” Klarman said. “And when Chad said Cloud Computing could do special things, we put him on the trail to Triple Crown-type races.”
Chad Brown file
Born: Dec. 18, 1978 (age 38)
Hometown: Mechanicville, N.Y.
Triple Crown wins: 2017 Preakness
Breeders’ Cup wins: 8, including 2016 Juvenile Fillies
Awards: Eclipse Award Outstanding Trainer, 2016