Brian Brown Trainer of the Year, Good Guy
December 27, 2017
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Brian Brown, who trains at the fairgrounds in the Little Brown Jug’s hometown and had been steadily making a bigger mark among North American conditioners over the last couple of years, had his breakthrough year in 2017, training two 3-year-old colt pacers who were the leaders of their division much of the year and who were one-two in seasonal earnings, along with a star age/gait counterpart filly. These achievements earned Brown the Trainer of the Year Award as voted by the sport’s leading media organization, the U.S. Harness Writers Association, and they contributed mightily to his also being named the organization’s Good Guy Award winner for consistent, intelligent cooperation with the sport’s media.
The 53-year-old Brown saw his two top sophomore colts earn $2.95 million between them--Downbytheseaside ($1,602,452), whose late-season heroics included a win in the Breeders Crown and being named divisional champion, and Fear The Dragon ($1,350,146), who had ranked number one in the weekly pools for much of the summer into the fall after major stakes wins throughout North America.
Joining Downbytheseaside as a Breeders Crown winner and divisional champion was the 3-year-old pacing filly Blazin Britches, a winner of $540,424. And the rest of the Brown barn contributed earnings in the vicinity of $2 million, giving Brian a lifetime seasonal high bankroll of over $5.7 million, despite starting fewer than 550 horses (he had a .402 UTR).
There were many highs during the campaigns of these three top horses, but there were also the inevitable dips in form and bouts with minor illnesses that virtually all racehorses experience. Whether in the winner's circle, puzzling over an off performance, or pondering his charges’ upcoming races, Brown kept up an honest, informational stream of conversation (with consistent praise for the members of "Team Brown") to a media whose readers wanted to know more about these equine stars. If Brown was elated by a horse’s top effort to win a big stake, there was no mistaking his enjoyment; similarly, if a horse’s form was rollercoastering a bit, you felt like you were on the up-and-down ride with Brown, awaiting the next turn in the journey. His intelligent candor enabled Brown to be selected for the Good Guy award, along with his Trainer of the Year honors.
Brown’s adept handling of Fear The Dragon and Blazin Britches brought out one solid performance after another from those talented horses, with their biggest cheerleader--owner Bruce Trogdon of Emerald Highlands Farm--usually present to share in the glory. Trogdon was also the breeder of Blazin Britches, and he bought the dam of Fear The Dragon with him in utero (already carrying the embryo), so Trogdon has been there from the literal very beginning of their lives through their two seasons of racing, including the successes of 2017. Thus the former newspaperman celebrated the 25th year of existence of his Emerald Highlands operation in the most successful way imaginable, capped by his winning the Owner of the Year award. Trogdon’s former "small operation," Emerald Highlands, now has 37 broodmares, and likely a future champion or two maturing as they traverse the farm’s mid-Ohio fields.
Brown, as both Trainer of the Year and the Good Guy Award winner, and owner Trogdon’s Emerald Highlands Farm, will be honored at the upcoming Dan Patch Awards Banquet, to be held on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. Those wishing to take out a congratulatory ad in the Banquet’s Awards Journal should contact Kim Rinker, Journal Committee chair, at email@example.com. Those wishing to attend the banquet can make room reservations online via a special "portal" on the USHWA website – but do so quickly to take advantage of the special room rates USHWA has obtained. Tickets for the banquet, priced at $175, can be obtained through Judy Davis-Wilson, Dinner Planning Committee chair, at firstname.lastname@example.org. (USHWA)