Brown entry looks formidable in G2 Knob Creek Lake Placid
By Sean Morris | 08/13/2014 05:57 PM ET
Mechanicville, N.Y. native Chad Brown will saddle a pair of talented runners in the Grade 2, $300,000 Knob Creek Lake Placid on Saturday at Saratoga Race Course.
The Knob Creek Lake Placid, for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/8 miles on turf, is part of an 11-race program that also features the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama.
Minorette, a Coolmore-owned daughter of Smart Strike, heads the Brown tandem. The chestnut filly captured the inaugural Grade 1, $1 million Belmont Oaks Invitational in her latest outing on July 5 at Belmont Park, when she tracked a modest pace over "good" ground and drew off to win by two lengths.
Trained by Aidan O'Brien during her 2-year-old campaign, Minorette had modest success racing in Ireland before arriving in the United States for her sophomore season. The Brown trainee began the year with a third-place finish in a first-level allowance race at Keeneland and finished second, beaten a half-length, in the Wonder Again Stakes - the local prep for the Belmont Oaks.
"The difference between the Belmont Oaks and the Wonder Again was the trip she got," said Brown. "Joel [Rosario] moved too soon and too wide [in the Wonder Again] and he knew it. He told me, 'Keep me on the horse and we'll win the Belmont Oaks.'"
Rosario will be back aboard Minorette and the pair will leave from post 6.
The French-bred Xcellence will be making her first start in the Brown barn and second stateside run. Her first outing in the country came in the Belmont Oaks for previous trainer Francois Doumen, in which she finished fourth as the 3-1 second choice.
Xcellence began her year by winning the Group 3 Prix Imprudence at Maisons-Laffitte in France, before finishing third in a pair of Group 1 races: the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches and the Prix de Diane Longines. After the Prix de Diane, the bay filly was purchased privately by owner Martin Schwartz.
The daughter of Canadian International winner Champs Elysees enters the Lake Placid off a string of three consecutive bullet works over the Oklahoma turf training course.
"I saw her training prior to the Belmont Oaks and she looked good," said Brown. "She's a great addition to the barn. She's entering the race in good shape and has been training very well. I think the Lake Placid is a good fit for her."
Joe Bravo has the mount on Xcellence and the duo will depart from post 4.
The regally bred Crown Queen, a half-sister to champion mare Royal Delta who fetched $1.6 million as a yearling, will make her stakes debut on Saturday for Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott. Great expectations have always surrounded the daughter of Smart Strike, but she failed to live up to the hype in her 2-year-old season, finishing the year with a pair of third-place finishes.
Her racing prospects changed in a hurry in her 3-year-old debut. The Besilu Stables-owned filly tracked a moderate pace over "good" ground at Belmont and drew off to a commanding 2 ½-length victory. Her next start came on July 20 at the Spa, and was every bit as convincing as her maiden breaker. The Mott trainee settled in midpack in the 1 3/16-mile turf affair and pulled away in the stretch to win by four lengths, completing the distance in a sparkling 1:52.19.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the mount on Crown Queen and the pair will break from post 5.
Rounding out the field are Duff One, sixth in the Grade 2 Lake George on July 23, and V V Goodnight, fourth-place finisher in an optional claimer at Arlington Park in her most recent outing. My Miss Sophia is entered main track only.
The field for the Grade 2, $300,000 Knob Creek Lake Placid: