By Mike Kane
“We're headed to that race,” Brown said. “We'll see how he works leading up to it, but I'm planning on taking a shot in that race.”
Brown said that Miles D, co-owned by Peter Brant and Robert LaPenta, will return to the worktab at Saratoga this weekend, probably on Saturday morning.
Miles D was a solid second to Dynamic One (Union Rags) in the 1 1/8 miles Curlin, the third start of his career and first try in stakes company. Under Joel Rosario, he was reserved early, cruised into contention and to the lead in the stretch, but could not handle Dynamic One's last-to-first move. Dynamic One, making his first start for Todd Pletcher since running 18th in the GI Kentucky Derby, prevailed by 1 3/4 lengths. Miles D was seven lengths in front of the 6-5 favorite First Captain.
“That is a race that when he went in, I expected him to win. The horse was training that good,” Brown said. “I looked at the field, and said, 'there are some more experienced horses in here,' but I thought he could handle that group. He ran super. He just got beat by a horse that has some back class. A nice horse. Todd has brought a lot of them over. The winner has been through the Triple Crown. There is no disgrace getting beat by a horse like that. You can see (Miles D) ran to the wire. Keep going to the Travers.”
Brant and LaPenta acquired Miles D as a yearling for $470,000 at Keeneland September 2019. He is the first foal out of the unraced Sound the Trumpets (Bernardini) from one of the Phipps Stable's exceptional female families. Sound of Trumpets's third dam is 1988 Broodmare of the Year Grecian Banner (Hoist the Flag), who produced the unbeaten Hall of Famer Personal Ensign (Private Account) and her full brother GI winner Personal Flag. As the daughter of Personal Ensign's daughter, My Flag (Easy Goer), a four-time Grade I winner, she is a half-sister to champion Storm Flag Flying (Storm Cat).
Hill 'n Dale purchased Sound of Trumpets for $280,000 at the 2016 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale and sold her in foal to Curlin a year later to River Bend Farm for $675,000.
Brown prepped Miles D for his 2-year-old debut last year. He did not make it to the races until Oct. 11 at Belmont Park and ended up fourth in a seven-furlong test and was not seen again for eight months.
“I always thought he was our best prospect for 3-year-old dirt horse for the next year,” Brown said. “He got hurt in his maiden race last year and it took a long time to get him back. He's doing really good. He's got some catch-up to do.”
Miles D broke his maiden in a one-turn mile at Belmont Park on June 12. Brown sent him directly to the Curlin, run on July 30, the day before the GII Jim Dandy, the traditional local prep for the Travers. Essential Quality (Tapit), the GI Belmont Stakes winner, who was the 2-year-old male champion in 2020, won the Jim Dandy and is heading to the Travers.
“Obviously, there is one horse that stands out in there,” Brown said, without naming Essential Quality, “that if he runs anywhere near close to one of his best races everyone is running for second. It's Saratoga, so anything can happen. I'm going to head toward the race and see how he develops. Hopefully this horse can give a good account of himself.”
Though Miles D did not give him the victory he expected, Brown said the Curlin was an important step.
“He definitely got some valuable experience for a lightly-raced horse,” Brown said. “Remember, it was his first time going two turns. It's an education. He got a little bit more fitness doing that. So I think we're set up here to run his best race, the next one, but if it's good enough or not remains to be seen. He's going to have to really jump forward in his numbers to win a race like that. But I want to give him a chance again, if he's training good.”