Chad Brown made his usual walk from the clocker’s stand to his barn at the edge of the Oklahoma Training Track grounds this week when the subject weaved its way to a filly that’s never been in Saratoga Springs and runs this weekend in Kentucky.
Rare is the top-tier runner trained by Brown that doesn’t spend some time upstate, although it’s no anomaly since the trainer keeps a string downstate at Belmont Park and will leave a horse there for which he’s got specific intentions. Alterite fits that bill, arriving in the U.S. from France in mid-July and going straight to Brown’s barn at Belmont, where she stayed until leaving earlier this week for Lexington and Keeneland to finish her preparations for Saturday’s $400,000 Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup.
Alterite staying at Belmont was by design. The 3-year-old French bred filly by Literato ran four times in France this season for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget and owner Martin Schwartz before the latter decided to send her to the states. It’s a move he’s done plenty of times before with success – think Zagora, Stacelita, Samitar, Gorella and on and on. Brown didn’t pick a race at Saratoga for the filly, so at Belmont she stayed to prepare for the Grade 1 Garden City Sept. 14.
“Alterite has always been at Belmont; she’s never been at Saratoga,” Brown said. “I wanted to get her acclimated there are Belmont since we circled the Garden City as her first start, if she could make it. I wanted to make sure she was well settled in at Belmont. She’s a little bit of a high-strung filly, but she settled in nicely.”
Alterite not only settled in well she ran well, defeating a strong group from the sophomore filly turf division to win the Garden City rather convincingly. Discreet Marq, winner of the Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, was second with Concicse, who she will face again at Keeneland, third. Caroline Thomas, winner of the Lake Placid and running back in the Queen Elizabeth for trainer Barclay Tagg, was also in the field, along with subsequent Juddmonte Spinster winner Emollient. (Check out the story behind Caroline Thomas)
The victory in the Garden City came with the addition of Lasix and cutting back in distance for Alterite, who was sixth in the French Oaks going 1 5/16 miles and second by a nose in the Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary going 1 1/4 miles. The Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup is also at 1 1/8 miles.
“She ran great first time,” Brown said. “She really hasn’t done a thing wrong since she arrived to me in early July. She’s just been perfect for me. She’s trained well, she looks well and been healthy. I was impressed with her first race for me and I’m looking for a similar effort on Saturday.”
Alterite is the 9-5 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s race and will be ridden again by John Velazquez, currently tied for the lead in the Keeneland rider standings with Rosie Napravnik at four wins.
She’ll need another strong effort against the Ken and Sarah Ramsey-owned uncoupled duo of Kitten’s Dumplings and Emotional Kitten. Kitten’s Dumplings won the Grade 2 Lake George at Saratoga then finished a non-threatening fourth in the Del Mar Oaks. Emotional Kitten, second to Emollient in the American Oaks earlier this summer, also exits the Del Mar Oaks, where she was third.
Graham Motion brings the improving Concise to the Queen Elizabeth off her third in the Garden City and a close fourth two back in the Lake Placid. Others in the field are Southern California shipper Sarach, Irish-bred Say, Woodbine shipper Leigh Court and I’m Already Sexy from the white-hot Wayne Catalano barn.
Keeneland Notes: The Ramseys secured another Breeders’ Cup starter Wednesday when Kitten Kaboodle easily won the $150,000 Jessamine Stakes, a “Win And You’re In” race for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. The 2-year-old filly by Kitten’s Joy won by 4 3/4 lengths over Zinzay for Brown and jockey Alan Garcia. … The only other stakes remaining this week is Friday’s Buffalo Trace Franklin County for fillies and mares going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Silverette, who trainer Dale Romans mentioned as a possible for the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint against males after her win in the Caress at Saratoga, leads a tough and full field of 12.
Watch the Garden City.
Watch the Del Mar Oaks.