Saturday’s Belmont Headliner is Brown’s ‘Game’ to Lose

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UniHorsephotos

Chad Brown saddles a trio so strong in Belmont’s GI Just a Game S. Saturday that it would be quite surprising if he does not take home his fourth straight renewal of the event. Leading the Brown contingent is Uni (GB) (More Than Ready), who makes her first start of 2020 after a championship 2019 season. Winner of the 2018 GI Matriarch S., the chestnut kicked off last term with a win in the Perfect Sting S. over course and distance June 29 and was third to the re-opposing Got Stormy (Get Stormy) when facing males in Saratoga’s GI Fourstardave H. in August. Returning to winning ways in Keeneland’s GI First Lady S. Oct. 5, Uni got the better of Got Stormy last tie with a 1 1/2-length score when facing the boys again in the GI Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita Nov. 2. Got Stormy won last year’s Matriarch, but is winless in three starts this season, most recently finishing fourth in Belmont’s GIII Beaugay S. June 3.

“She’s doing well,” Brown told the NYRA notes team in reference to Uni. “There’s a little uncertainty with the layoff, but she seems to be training well. She has a great turn of foot and we’ll just see how it plays out.”

Uni’s biggest competition will likely come from her own shedrow in Newspaperofrecord (Ire) (Lope de Vega {Ire}). A perfect three-for-three during her 2019 juvenile seasonal capped by a win at the Breeders’ Cup, the bay was winless in 2019, starting with a pair of runner-up efforts in the GIII Edgewood S. and GIII Wonder Again S. Fading to ninth in the GI Belmont Oaks last July, she was subsequently shelved for the season and appeared back to her old self when next seen in the seven-panel GIII Intercontinental S. over a yielding course at Belmont June 6. Newspaperofrecord seemed to relish the cutback in trip last time–registering a 103 Beyer Speed Figure–after racing over distances from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles last season and a repeat of that performance would make her a strong contender here.

“She seems very settled in the mornings,” Brown said of Newspaperofrecord. “She went fast fractions last time, which wasn’t really what I wanted, but she doesn’t need to do that. She’s been pretty relaxed and settled.”

The third Brown runner Regal Glory (Animal Kingdom) will likely be much higher odds than her two stablemates, but it would be no surprise to see her get a piece. The chestnut captured both the GIII Lake George S. and GII Lake Placid S. last summer, but could only manage sixth behind another stablemate Cambier Parc (Medaglia d’Oro) in the GI QEII Cup Oct. 12. She finished second to Newspaperofrecord last out in the Intercontinental.

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