Brown Bess

Brown Bess

Courtesy of Harris Farms

Champion Brown Bess Dies

Northern California mare won five graded stakes her championship season.

Suzanne Pashayan’s Brown Bess, the 1989 champion grass mare, was euthanized July 15 because of complications from colic. The 29-year-old mare had resided the last several years at John C. Harris’ Harris Farms near Coalinga, Calif.

“She was a little horse—850 pounds and about 15 hands—and was all business when it came to racing,” said Pashayan, who bred and raced Brown Bess in the name of her Northern California farm Calbourne Farm. “She could run on dirt and on turf and was one of those mares with classic speed, meaning she could keep running strong in lengthy races. She proved to be a true athlete and champion.”

Brown Bess was a source of pride to Northern California. Based with trainer Chuck Jenda, she won 11 stakes, eight of which were in the northern part of the Golden State.

Brown Bess, who raced exclusively in California during her career, secured her Eclipse Award with five graded stakes wins, all under Jack Kaenel, as a 7-year-old. Her biggest win came in the Yellow Ribbon Invitational Stakes (gr. IT) in which she finished the 1 1/4 miles in 1:57 3/5, a fifth of a second slower than the course record at Santa Anita. Brown Bess also that season won the Ramona Handicap (gr. IT), the California Jockey Club Handicap (gr. IIIT), the Countess Fager Handicap (gr. IIIT), and the Yerba Buena Handicap (gr. IIIT). Against males, she finished third to Frankly Perfect and Pleasant Variety in the Golden Gate Handicap (gr. IIT). 

Her 1990 season also had plenty of highlights. Brown Bess won the Santa Barbara Handicap (gr. IT) at 1 1/4 miles and finished third, beaten a neck in the Santa Ana Handicap (gr. IT). She also ran third in the Yerba Buena.

During her career Brown Bess won or placed in 30 of 36 races and earned $1,300,920. Sixteen of those efforts were wins.

Pashayan patronized California stallions when it came to breeding Brown Bess. Brown Bess produced one winner from six named foals. She produced her last foal in 2002. .

“We were proud to have Brown Bess retire to our farm, where she happily spent the last several years of her life,” Harris said. “She was an extremely game and talented race mare, and I was elated that Suzanne Pashayan, a long time family friend from Fresno, bred and raced her and was able to savor all of her fine accomplishments and provide for her retirement. She was trained throughout her career by Chuck Jenda, an outstanding horseman, and ridden to victory by Cowboy Jack Kaenel in so many major races. She’s one of the best Cal-breds ever and will be long remembered.”

By Petrone, Brown Bess was produced from the Windy Sands mare Chickadee, whose third dam was champion Princess Doreen. 

Brown Bess is buried at Harris Farms.