Q & A with Chad Brown

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Chad Brown | Horsephotos

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To say trainer Chad Brown enjoyed a productive season in 2019 is an understatement of epic proportions. Fresh off collecting his fourth consecutive Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading trainer, the 41-year-old is also responsible for a pair of divisional winners–Horse of the Year and Champion Turf Horse Bricks and Mortar (Giant’s Causeway) and Champion Female Turf Horse Uni (GB) (More Than Ready). TDN‘s Christina Bossinakis sat down with Brown to reflect on the past season and to get a look at what 2020 may hold.

TDN: Can you tell me about your 2019 season?

Chad Brown: It’s been another incredible season for us from start to finish. Starting in the Pegasus, when normally I don’t get my stable cranked up this early in the year, to start off with a big purse and Grade I win like that with Bricks and Mortar who was getting ready to do some great things, really was a great way to start off the year. And it carried all the way through the Breeders’ Cup, winning three races [Structor; Juvenile Turf, Uni {GB}; Mile and Bricks and Mortar; Turf]. We just had the right horses, again, and our team, our staff did an unbelievable job from top to bottom. You have a really great season like we had in 2018 when we had 20 Grade I wins. I thought it would be impossible to do this again, and then we did it again, last year. You just got to be thankful that you have the right horses and all these talented people in the barn that are working with them.”

TDN: What is it like training a horse like Bricks and Mortar?

Chad Brown: It makes my job very rewarding. I’ll tell you that. With Bricks and Mortar, in particular, I’m just so proud of that horse, and he’s obviously greatly missed at this point when we go and look at a stall, and he’s not here. He’s such a rare horse to be that consistent at so many different race tracks and distances, under different weather conditions. He’s not an easy horse to ride and train, a very light mouth, ornery kind of horse, but I just so much respect for the horse’s hard determination and consistency. It’s going to be hard to find a horse anywhere near him. It’s really is. And when they leave you, you appreciate them even more because then it really sticks out how rare they are. You start looking for another one. So, for me to say that, in this barn, when there’s so many other really talented horses, even in that division, to say ‘wow, there’s nothing like him’. That’s a pretty high compliment.

TDN: What happens in the defending Eclipse Award Winning trainer’s mind in January of a new year?

Chad Brown: It’s like skiing down the steepest mountain, getting all the way to the bottom and you made it clean. And you might have gone up a little higher and started higher in a more difficult position than the year before, but you still had a clean run. When you get to the bottom and you look up at the mountain, you have to go all the way back up at the top and do it again. It’s daunting.

But that’s what we try to do. And thankfully, we’ve been in business about 12 years and every year we’ve been able to improve somehow with the combination of the right horses, the right people working with the horses, the right owners and making a lot of the right decisions. Maybe not all of the right decisions because every year there are mistakes and we learn from them. So, where are we now? We’re on the chair left looking up thinking, ‘Okay, we have to go all the way back up here again and try this again.’ But that’s why I do it. I know that. I know that a lot of my team members share the same feeling of embracing the challenges of the job, always trying to raise the bar. We’re all on the same page. We just have to do it again.

TDN: How have you changed over the years?

Chad Brown: I think that now that I’ve gotten a little older and I’ve been doing this longer, I definitely take more time to really take stuff in and appreciate and try to freeze time as much as I can, like when I’m in the winner’s circle at the Breeders’ Cup, or at Arlington last summer [won four graded stakes, three Grade I’s], or maybe giving this speech. But you got to balance it with moving forward and keeping your staff, owners and your horses focused on what’s next around the corner in an ever-changing sport.

TDN: How do you approach some of the changes we have seen over the course of the year? What about in the future?

Chad Brown: As we see, we’re getting ready to adjust to a lot of potential major changes. I know that our team needs to be prepared to make the right adjustments. [Bobby] Frankel once told me something a long time ago. He did so many things great, but one thing, in particular, that I think he was really the master at was making really good adjustments. Again, I was lucky to work for him very late in his career when he was the wisest. He had so much time training horses. He had so much time on planet earth. During the time I was around him, I saw him make so many positive adjustments, so many good decisions because he was so smart and knowledgeable. One day, he made an adjustment with a horse at Hollywood Park, and I said, ‘Wow, how did you know how to do that?’ And he said ‘A lot of experience.’ He told me, ‘Remember something, the trainer that makes the best adjustments often wins the most.’ That was it. So, I believe if we can make the right adjustment and adapt our businesses around whatever may change–which there has already been a lot of change since I’ve been doing this for 12 years–I think that success will follow. I believe him. And while I’m nowhere near him, I find that now I’m able to make better decisions now.

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