Brian Brown is a traveling man, but doesn’t let that stop him from preparing his horses for the richest night of horse racing in the Buckeye State.
No less than 10 pacing youngsters from the Brown Stable will go postward in Saturday's (Sept. 2) $2 million Ohio Sires Stakes Championships at Scioto Downs—with 2- and 3-year-old trotters and pacers of each gender racing for $250,000. Brown will be in another state, racing some of the nation’s top performers, but that doesn’t mean his heart won’t be in Ohio.
"Some of my top horses drew bad in the championships," he noted. "So that’s a little bit of a damper, but overall, I’m hopeful and optimistic for tonight (Saturday). The excitement is back in Ohio and now the horsemen here have a chance to win some decent money. Nobody’s going to give it to you—you have to earn it—but at least we have a chance now."
Brown will get that chance in the first OSS championship, race four, for 2-year-old pacing colts, where three of his youngsters vie for first prize.
Slick Mick is a striking black son of the The Panderosa who has draw post four, and will have Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., in the sulky for owner/breeder Milton Leeman of Columbus, Ohio. He scored a lone victory in OSS competition on July 22 at Northfield Park, tripping the timer in a career best 1:54.2.
The winner of $39,200 lifetime was third in leg one, second in leg two and third in leg three at Scioto just a few weeks ago.
"Slick Mick was in with Rock On Creek and Letsallrock in that last sires stakes and he was pacing the hardest down the stretch of any of them," Brown said. "He was three-wide in the last turn and was catching those two down by the wire and I think the world of both those horses. If he can catch a trip and get towed into the race, he might just surprise everyone. He raced his guts out that night. He’s not a very big colt, but he’s super handy."
Slick Mick is the fifth foal out of the unraced Dragon Again mare Hufflepuff and is a half-brother to Hannah Abbot (by Dave Palone) p,3, 1:53.s ($86,502); Buckeye Battle Cry (by Woodstock) p,3, 1:56f ($23,297); and Olympe Maxime p,4, 1:56f ($20,756).
Dragonology hails from post five for driver Ryan Stahl and is a bay son of Dragon Again, who is the third foal out of the Riverboat King mare LaDiavla p,5, 1:51.4f ($416,730).
"I think he needs another year," Brown offered. "He’s a tall, lean and growthy horse who I expect to be better this week in the championship. He can pace a bit, but is kind of a typical Dragon Again and you have to make him get on it. He has the ability, just not mindset yet, and I expect him to turn into a lot better horse next year."
Purchased for $25,000 out of the Ohio Selected Jug Sale, Dragonology won OSS leg two on July 22 at Northfield in 1:53.2 for owners Country Club Acres, Findlay, Ohio; Joe Sbrocco, Brecksville, Ohio; and Aws Stable, Lima, Ohio. Bred by Kerry Feuker-Weed and Keneth Weed, Dragonology has $27,200 in his coffers.
Rock On Creek is Brown’s final contestant in this division. This Pet Rock gelding is the first foal out of the Modern Art mare Pebble Creek p,6, 1:53.2h ($152,720), who won two legs of the OSS, was third in another and was second by a head to Letsallrock in 1:52.3 on Aug. 21 at Scioto Downs. He’ll start from post eight with Chris Page at the controls.
"He got beat a head last week and then scoped terrible after that race," Brown stressed. "We’ve been working since then on getting him cleaned up. He had a lot of mucus. If he gets any kind of trip, he’ll be right there in the championship. Chris (driver Page) has protected him pretty well, but with this post he’s got his work cut out for him. He has it all—speed, manners, desire, and is good-gaited. He really has no faults.
Rock On Creek was bred and is co-owned by Debbie Bird of Gores Landing, Ohio, along with Richard Lombardo, Solon, Ohio, and Gosh Green, Milford, Del. He has $75,175 in career earnings from three wins, one second and a third in five lifetime starts.
In the 2-year-old filly pacing championship (race five), Brown sends out Prsntpretynperfect and Shadows On Time. The former has swept all four OSS legs with aplomb and is five-for-five lifetime with $103,500 in earnings. Kayne Kauffman drives from post five.
"She’s been a great surprise," Brown said. "We were initially just hoping she’d be good enough for the fairs and she turned out to be way more than that. She has more guts than a good many horses, and for a 2-year-old filly she has the greatest attitude on the track of any filly I’ve trained."
Purchased for $6,000 at the 2016 Ohio Selected Jug Yearling Sale, the daughter of Big Bad John is the third foal out of the Nihilator mare Wildfire Princess, p,4, 1:52.2z ($30,929) and is a full sister to Prince Giovanni p,3, 1:54.4h ($64,733) and to Banderbear p,3, 1:53.3f ($24,950). She was bred by Carl Howard and is owned by Jennifer Brown, Ostrander, Ohio; Richard Lombardo, Solon, Ohio; and Joshua Green, Milford, Del.
Shadows On Time is a tall, lanky daughter by The Panderosa, who is the 14th foal out of the Matt’s Scooter mare Matt’s Filly p,2, 1:55.3 ($64,606). She’s a full sister to world champion Shadow Play p, 4, 1:47.4 ($1,549,881) and a host of other tough racehorses. Bred by Sam Stoltzfus, she is owned by J Craig Wood of Waterdown, Ont.
"Shadows On Time can grind it out for quite a ways," Brown revealed. "Her last couple of training sessions have gone really well and she raced well in her last start. If she can get a good trip behind her stablemate, she could follow and be right there at the wire."
The coal black filly has one win and two seconds in five starts and $31,150 in earnings. She was second in the first two OSS legs, fourth in the third leg and fourth in leg four. She sold at the 2016 Standardbred Horse Sale at Harrisburg as a yearling for $25,000.
Bye Bye Felicia will carry the Brown stable colors postward in the 3-year-old pacing filly championship (race eight). Chris Page drives from post nine.
"Her last race was the best of the year and then she draws into the nine-hole," Brown stated. "She can take a lot of air and she can also leave some. She has a lot of guts and rarely puts forth a bad effort, but this is going to be a tough test for her from out there."
Bye Bye Felicia was a $7,000 yearling purchase at the 2015 Ohio Selected Jug Sale and was bred by Billy Walters and Joe McLead. A winner of $166,909 lifetime, she’s owned by Jennifer Brown, Ostrander, Ohio; S Davis, Belle Valley, Ohio; Steve Mullet, Millersburg, Ohio and Joyce McClelland, Zanesville, Ohio.
"She raced really well early, then got a little sick and is now back to her old self," Brown noted.
This Woodstock lass is the second foal out of the unraced Camluck mare Tea Time and is a full sister to Harambe Deo p,2, 1:55f ($26,400). She was second by a neck in her last start, OSS leg four at Northfield Park, timed in 1:52.4 on Aug. 26.
Four of Brown’s charges—all sons of McArdle--vie in the 3-year-old colt pace championship (race nine).
Barnabas drew the best of the quartet, leaving from post five with Kayne Kauffman in the sulky. A $60,000 yearling purchase, he’s the first foal out of the No Pan Intended mare Panagler p,4, 1:51.4s ($565,939) and is a full brother to the 2-year-old filly Merciless p,4,1:57.1f ($23,705). He finished sixth, first, second and third in his OSS tests this season and sports a bankroll of $143,614.
"He’s the biggest, clumbsiest-looking horse on the track but when he paces fast he gets much better gaited," Brown explained. "He can leave fast and ultimately, this race comes down to the driver. This colt races best up near the front."
Barnabas was bred by Kevin Greenfield and is owned by Country Club Acres, Joe Sbrocoo, Richard Lombardo and William Robinson.
McThriller starts from post seven with Tyler Smith at the lines. The bay gelding was a $75,000 yearling purchase at last season’s Ohio Selected Jug Sale and was bred by Gbw Breeding Farms and is owned by Nr Holdings, Boca Raton, Fla.; TLP Stable, Kearny, N.J.; and Howard Taylor, Philadelphia, Pa. He’s amassed $187,572 from six wins, four seconds and two thirds in 16 career starts.
"McThriller tries and he has guts and really wants to be a racehorse," Brown stressed. "But he’s saddled with a bad post and we’re hoping he can work out some kind of trip and get into the race. He’s raced well every start from limited opportunities this season and now he’s at the mercy of the draw and how the race sets up."
McThriller won two OSS legs, including a 1:51.2 score at Scioto on June 10, and was second in the other two. He is the first foal out of the Jate Lobell mare You Thrill Me p, 5, 1:51.1s ($255,452) and is a full brother to the 2-year-old Thrill Seeker p,2, Q1:57.1f ($19,600).
Starting from post eight with Ronnie Wrenn, Jr., aboard is Lightning Onmyfeet, a $45,000 Ohio Selected Yearling Sale purchase by D. Robinson, Cardington, Ohio; M. Robinson, Lewis Center, Ohio; Robert Mondillo, Delaware, Ohio; and Joyce McClelland, Zanesville, Ohio. This winner of $94,930 lifetime sports six wins, a second and three thirds in 15 starts.
"He’s a really nice youngster who tries his heart out," Brown explained. "He’s not a very big horse but he’s one who gives a good performance in almost every start. I thought he might be the best of mine coming into the race but the draw didn’t work out in his favor either. He’s been good all summer but his last start just might have been at his best. Ronnie had him shut down coming down the stretch and he still kept coming."
That start saw Lightning Onmyfeet pace to a near wire-to-wire effort in OSS leg four at Scioto Downs on Aug. 25, when he stopped the timer in a hasty 1:51.3. He also won leg one this season and was second in leg two and third in leg three. Bred by John Carver, he is the sixth foal out of the Western Hanover mare Western Top Cat p, 3, 1:54.4 ($29,682) and is a half-brother to Revenge Shark (by Cam’s Card Shark) p,3, 1:50.2f ($425,107), etc.
Last, but not least is the $103,125-winning McRaven, a $27,000 yearling purchase owned by Country Club Acres and L&H Management Services—both of Findlay, Ohio. This brown gelding is the second foal out of the Real Desire mare Scooch ($1,124) who was bred by the Parent Racing Stable. Ryal Stahl will have the lines from post nine.
"I thought at the beginning of the year McRaven was my best horse, but we’ve been fighting ulcers all year," Brown said. "We do everything we can to help his stomach situation, and he gets a lot of turn-out time. He trained well this week, but again, the post isn’t in his favor. All the McArdles have great attitudes and really want to be racehorses, and he fits the bill."
McRaven won his first OSS leg at Miami Valley Raceway in 1:54.2 and was third, second and fourth in the remaining three legs. He made just two starts as a freshman, winning both and has a 4-2-2 record from 12 career outings.
About the Ohio Sires Stakes: Ohio-breds are made eligible to the four-part series—featuring $40,000 purses per divisional leg—divided by age, gait and gender, by their owners with a March 15 payment.
In 2017, the Ohio Standardbred Development Fund (OSDF) received 1,148 nominations of 2- and 3-year-old foals sired by Ohio-registered pacing and trotting stallions. The most lucrative of any series for Ohio-bred Standardbreds, the Ohio Sires Stakes saw a 6% gain in nominations from 2016 (1,091 nominees) and a 49% increase of 2015 nominations (774).
Horses in the series are awarded points based on where they finish in each of the legs. Accumulated points are totaled after Leg 4, and Championships eligible-youngsters are posted on the Ohio State Racing Commission website.
Post time for the Ohio Sires Stakes Championships is 6:30 p.m.--By Kimberly Rinker/Ohio Standardbred Development Fund