Trainer Chad Brown is taking three shots at Saturday’s $1 million Old Forester Turf Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs, a race he has yet to win, but the biggest by far is with Bricks and Mortar.
Currently atop the weekly NTRA Thoroughbred Poll following victories in the Pegasus World Cup Turf (G1) and Muniz Memorial (G2) earlier this year, Bricks and Mortar figures to be a strong favorite in the 1 1/8-mile fixture that serves as the annual lead-in to the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Bricks and Mortar dominated late in the Pegasus World Cup Turf on softish ground, but had to work a lot more in the Muniz Memorial to wear down 62-1 chance Markitoff, who nearly stole the race. Brown has also entered multiple graded stakes winner Raging Bull, fourth in the Maker’s 46 Mile (G1) in his season debut, and Grade 3 veteran Ticonderoga.
Synchrony takes his second shot at this race after running third 12 months ago. A multiple graded winner at Fair Grounds and Monmouth Park, the Pin Oak homebred was compromised by the slow pace in his title defense of the Muniz Memorial last time.
Qurbaan has won or placed in all five of his U.S. outings, though he’s dropped four straight since taking the Bernard Baruch H. (G2) in his stateside debut. Like Synchrony, he’ll race with blinkers for the first time on Saturday.
Grade 1 winner Next Shares has run below his best in three of his past four, primarily in testing conditions. Breaking the Rules is relatively unexposed but steps up in class after finishing second as the odds-on choice in the Canadian Turf (G3).
Unsurprisingly, Brown also has a strong hand in the $400,000 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile (G2) with Precieuse, the 2017 French 1000 Guineas (G1) winner who defeated Valedictorian in the Honey Fox (G3) last out, and Environs, who impressively capture her U.S. debut last month in a second-level allowance at Keeneland.
Proctor’s Ledge is winless in five starts since taking this race a year ago, but was a solid second to Valedictorian in the $100,000 Sand Springs in her season debut March 30. The inconsistent Capla Temptress makes her first start since December when she captured the My Charmer (G3) at Gulfstream, while multiple Grade 3 heroine Daddy Is a Legend returns from a layoff of similar length following a runner-up effort in the Matriarch (G1).
The $400,000 American Turf (G2) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles looks like a spread race for horizontal exotics players. Leading contenders include A Thread of Blue, who enters on a three-race win streak, Seismic Wave, Digital Age, Henley’s Joy, Avie’s Flatter, Casa Creed, The Black Album, and Social Paranoia.