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Brown Considering Sierra Leone for Jim Dandy

Travers (G1) main goal for grade 1 winner; Randomized targeting Personal Ensign (G1).

Trainer Chad Brown

Trainer Chad Brown

Coglianese Photos/Walter Wlodarczyk

As much as trainer Chad Brown exited the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival with a couple of grade 1 victories, there was also a case of classic disappointment.

A week after the 156th Belmont Stakes (G1) at Saratoga Race Course, Brown said beaten 8-5 favorite Sierra Leone was doing fine after finishing third on a surface ill-suited for his late kick.

"He didn't do much running until the quarter pole and that made it difficult the way the track was playing," Brown said June 15. "I didn't have a good feeling all weekend about the track. He did the best he could and I just hope that when the summer meet starts (at Saratoga) they will even the track out so it's not as fast and it plays fair for everybody. It was heartbreaking to have a closer in the Belmont and watch inside speed all weekend."

Sierra Leone was 10th after a mile in the 1 1/4-mile Belmont then rallied four wide on the turn and was 8 or 9 paths wide in the upper stretch before closing to take third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the victorious Dornoch.

Sierra Leone, right works on the Oklahoma Training Track Saturday June 1, 2024 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.  in preparation for the 2024 Belmont Stakes which will be held at the historic Saratoga Race Course Saturday June 8th for the first time in history  Photo by Skip Dickstein
Photo: Skip Dickstein
Sierra Leone trains for the Belmont Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

Though equipped with a new bit to control his habit of drifting in—which played a key role in settling for second by a nose in the Kentucky Derby (G1)—Sierra Leone did move in during the stretch run of the Belmont, but Brown did not view that as a main element in the loss.

"He leaned in but I didn't think it was that bad," Brown said. "I think it was exaggerated by Mindframe (the runner-up) moving out in the stretch."

Brown said he is considering running the son of Gun Runner  in the July 27 Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at the Spa as a prep for the Aug. 24 Travers Stakes (G1), which promises to be the main summer showdown for the 3-year-old male division.

Bred by Debby Oxley and bought for $2.3 million at 2022 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select Yearling Sale, Sierra Leone is owned by Peter Brant, Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, Westerberg, and Rocket Ship Racing.

Prior to the June 8 Belmont, Brown picked up a pair of grade 1 wins from Randomized and Chili Flag during the four-day Festival.

Randomized avenged a runner-up finish to Idiomatic in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff (G1) as she held off a late bid by the champion mare and notched a head victory over the Eclipse Award winner in the June 8 Ogden Phipps Stakes (G1) for older fillies and mares.

Randomized and Joel Rosario win the Ogden Phipps,   Saratoga Racecourse, Saratoga Springs, NY, 6-8-24, Javier Molina
Photo: Mathea Kelley
Randomized holds off Idiomatic to win the Ogden Phipps Stakes at Saratoga Race Course

"That was a great effort," Brown said about Klaravich Stables' 4-year-old daughter of Nyquist . "She likes Saratoga and I'll keep her there and point to the Personal Ensign (G1, Aug. 23 at Saratoga)."

Randomized has prevailed in three stakes at the Spa, including last year's Alabama Stakes (G1).

Chili Flag captured her third stakes in a row, and initial grade 1, by taking the June 7 Just a Game Stakes (G1T) at a mile on turf.

Brown will likely stretch her out to 1 1/8 miles for the Diana Stakes (G1T) on July 13 during the opening weekend at Saratoga.

Chili Flag, a daughter of Cityscape, is owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Michael Kisber.

Brown also collected a pair of impressive allowance wins by talented, grade 1-placed runners.

Klaravich's homebred Ways and Means prevailed in a June 6 allowance race by 8 1/4 lengths. The 3-year-old Practical Joke  filly was previously seen finishing fourth in the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

"She got back on track the right way. That was great. I'll point her to the (Test Stakes (G1),  Aug. 3 at Saratoga), but I don't know if I'll run her before that."

Ways and Means was second in last year's Spinaway Stakes (G1) at the Spa, covering the same seven-furlong distance as the Test.

Klaravich's General Partner turned in an impressive 3-year-old debut by winning a June 8 allowance race by five lengths.

The Speightstown  colt was second in last year's Champagne Stakes (G1).

Brown said he is considering running General Partner in the July 6 Dwyer Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack.

"I might try him back in the Dwyer Stakes," Brown said. "It's a little fast for how big of a (speed figure) number he ran, but I feel he has a good foundation."

Dornoch doing fine; Society Man to W. Virginia Derby

Following the biggest victory of his career, trainer Danny Gargan said Saturday that Dornoch has bounced back in fine spirits from his victory in the $2 million Belmont but he is still weighing options for his next start.

Gargan said he is considering the trifecta of either running in the July 20 Haskell Stakes (G1) at Monmouth Park, the Jim Dandy, or training up to the Travers for the son of Good Magic .

Gargan had more definite plans for the 3-year-old Society Man, who put the weekend over the moon for the trainer by taking the $400,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) June 9 at Churchill Downs.

He said the gelding would be heading to the Aug. 4 West Virginia Derby (G3) at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort.