By Jessica Martini
Owner Tom Brockley admitted he had moderate expectations when Brocknardini (Palace Malice) went to the post for the first time Wednesday at Saratoga.
“In my mind, she was really more of a dirt horse, but this race came up and she was ready to go,” Brockley, who owns the 2-year-old filly with his wife, Daryn, said. “She had a good work from the gate 10 days or so ago at Saratoga. [Trainer] George [Weaver] said, 'We've got to race her.' The race that came up was this. So I said, 'Let's bring her out. At least she will get a work and we will see what she does.'”
Sent off at 6-1, Brocknardini, mid-pack for much of the race, came blazing down the stretch and powered home a 4 3/4-length winner.
“We took a shot,” Brockley said. “She had never worked on the turf and, of course bringing a horse out as a 2-year-old first-time starter at 1 1/16 miles is a struggle, because you don't know what you've got. But once she got clear at the top of the stretch, when she saw that opening, she just moved.”
Brockley, a financial advisor based in Albany, purchased the filly privately after she RNA'd for $35,000 following an :11 flat work at the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May sale two months ago.
“I got a call from my agent who told me this was a horse I should think about, that she was a New York-bred,” Brockley said. “She didn't work a fast time. I think she worked in :11 and that was a little slow for the auction, but we liked what she looked like. I liked her breeding. [Her dam] Broad Stripes is by Bernardini and she's by Palace Malice.”
Brockley found a built-in cheering section for the filly when he got to the paddock before Wednesday's fifth race.
“I didn't realize I knew the breeder until after I bought her, [Kristen Esler's] Thirty Year Farm,” Brockley said. “I saw her in the paddock and she said, 'I can't believe you bought my horse.' I said, 'Well we did and we are going to get to the winner's circle with her.' And we did. She was watching the race with me upstairs. She was pretty excited. She had a couple of her farm folks there that helped raise the horse. I am glad they got to see her.”
Brockley's first experience with racehorse ownership came via syndicates in the 1990s, but he found immediate success when he first decided to go it on his own in 2022.
“I claimed my first horse on my own at Saratoga in 2002, Brocco Bob,” he said. “Believe it or not, I raced the horse back and the first race back, the horse won. So I won the first race of my own career at Saratoga and I got the bug. From there, I expanded. A couple of years ago, I had two winners in one day here. Which is tough to do for anyone, especially for me, a little guy, compared to these big owners and breeders that come up to Saratoga. I just try to keep within my discipline with what I buy.”
Brockley has just five horses in training at the moment and, while he acquires most of his runners either at the 2-year-old sales or at via the claiming box, he does do a limited amount of breeding.
“I have a pretty nice mare, Louisiana Violet (J P's Gusto), that I bred the last two seasons,” he said. “I bred her to Bustin Stones and we had a colt this past April and we named him Stonecoldbrockley.”
While he came close with Sinful Dancer (War Dancer), who was second in the 2021 New York Stallion S., Brockley has yet to have a stakes winner in his colors.
“We are still looking for our first stakes,” he said. “Maybe this filly could be our first stakes winner. You never know, right? You've got to keep swinging the bat to get that home run.”
In the meantime, Brockley can bask in the glow of his latest winner at the Spa.
“I've been coming up here for 40 years,” he said. “There is nothing like. Especially if you're a local.”