Sol Kumin estimates trainer Chad Brown conditions about 60% of the horses the ebullient businessman owns with his various partnerships. By putting that many eggs into the Eclipse Award winner's basket, Kumin often ends up with the happy problem of having his head spin each weekend trying to keep tabs on a plethora of big-race outcomes his contenders are going after.
When the entries for the Sept. 30 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Stakes (G1T) at Belmont Park were revealed, it illustrated both the perks and slight drawback of being part of one of the sport's elite operations. Though Kumin has three rooting interests in the 1 1/2-mile race, two of which are conditioned by Brown, he also knows one of the biggest threats is coming from the barn some of his own reside in.
"I know where everyone of (Brown's) horses are going, because honestly ... you have to watch his barn. Because most of the time, you're trying to beat his horses," Kumin said with a laugh. "So I'm always trying to split them up. Because in the big races you have to beat him."
As is typical when the nation's top turf races are on the line, Brown is throwing both quality and quantity at the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic, as he will saddle three of the 11 entrants in the test, including grade 1 winner Beach Patrol and graded victor Money Multiplier.
In addition to co-owning Beach Patrol, Kumin's ownership groups also have a piece of Brown trainee Fanciful Angel, as well as fellow Joe Hirsch entrant Ascend, who is conditioned by Graham Motion. It is a particularly strong hand, especially in a division that has been ripe with parity this season.
Beach Patrol brings the best recent credentials of that bunch to the table, having defeated Fanciful Angel by a half-length in the Aug. 12 Arlington Million XXXV Stakes (G1T) to earn his first win since he took the Secretariat Stakes (G1T) over the Arlington International Racecourse turf one year earlier. Though the 4-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid endured a six-race losing skid between victories, he hasn't finished worse than fourth during that time and fell just a half-length short in the Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (G1T) at Churchill Downs in May.
The Arlington Million marked the stateside debut for Fanciful Angel, a globetrotting stakes winner who was purchased privately by Kumin's Head of Plain Partners and Michael Dubb after that outing and transferred from trainer Marco Botti to Brown.
Though Ascend finished fifth in the Arlington Million and had Motion toying with the idea of trying him on dirt, a positive six-furlong move in 1:13 1/5 at Fair Hill Training Center Sept. 25 convinced his trainer to try him back on the course where he captured the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Stakes (G1T) in June.
"I've got three horses in the race—Beach Patrol, Fanciful Angel, and Ascend—and I honestly don't know if any of them can get 1 1/2 miles," Kumin said. "So my hope is that one of them does. But it is going to be a tough race."
The horse they may have to go through if they want to hit the wire first is multiple grade 1 winner Oscar Performance. The 3-year-old ridgling son of Kitten's Joy will be taking on elders for the first time but has arguably been the most consistent member of the turf male division this summer.
Since he threw in a pair of off-the-board efforts in the Transylvania Stakes Presented by Keeneland Select (G3T) and American Turf Stakes Presented by Ram Trucks (G2T), the Brian Lynch trainee has regained the form that allowed him to capture the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (G1T) in November. Following his win in the June 3 Pennine Ridge Stakes (G3T) at Belmont—where he is undefeated in three starts—Oscar Performance went gate-to-wire in the July 8 Belmont Derby Invitational Stakes (G1T) before stalking and pouncing his way to victory in the Secretariat Stakes Aug. 12.
"This will be his first kick at the can against older horses, but we're confident that he can hold his own," Lynch said of Oscar Performance, who will also try 12 furlongs for the first time. "You hit a much more seasoned group of high-level, competitive horses, whereas in the 3-year-old division, you can catch a lightly raced group who might not have the miles on them or have fought in the heavyweight bouts. It's great to have this type of test."
Money Multiplier finished fourth in last year's Joe Hirsch and ran sixth in the Longines Breeders' Cup Turf (G1). He returned from a nearly nine-month freshening to win the Monmouth Stakes (G2T) in his seasonal debut July 30. The 5-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky was most recently second in the 1 1/2-mile Sword Dancer Stakes (G1T) Aug. 26, beaten just a half-length by fellow Joe Hirsch entrant Sadler's Joy.
"The horse I'm most worried about, besides Oscar Performance, is (Money Multiplier)," Kumin said.
Trainer Dermot Weld will saddle multiple group 1 winner The Grey Gatsby in his first North American start. The 6-year-old son of Mastercraftsman seeks to find the winner's circle for the first time since he took the 2014 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1).
"I want to see him put it together. I think he'll appreciate going the distance and I hope he gives Johnny a good ride," Weld said. "He's been a little unlucky this summer, but he loves firm ground, so that's the main reason we're running him. Our ground (in Ireland) has gone soft over here. The main thing for him is that he loves fast ground, and that'll be very helpful for him."
Belmont Park, Saturday, September 30, 2017, Race 10
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L 1 1Money Multiplier (KY) Javier Castellano 126 Chad C. Brown 7/2 2 2Converge (NY) Eric Cancel 126 Naipaul Chatterpaul 50/1 3 3Oscar Performance (KY) Jose L. Ortiz 121 Brian A. Lynch 3/1 4 4Sadler's Joy (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 126 Thomas Albertrani 4/1 5 5Beach Patrol (KY) Joel Rosario 126 Chad C. Brown 5/1 6 6Ascend (KY) Joe Bravo 126 H. Graham Motion 12/1 7 7Channel Maker (ON) Manuel Franco 121 William I. Mott 20/1 8 8Mekhtaal (GB) Junior Alvarado 126 H. Graham Motion 15/1 9 9Fanciful Angel (IRE) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 126 Chad C. Brown 10/1 10 10The Grey Gatsby (IRE) John R. Velazquez 126 Dermot K. Weld 8/1 11 11Tricked Up (KY) Luis R. Reyes 126 Naipaul Chatterpaul 50/1
Belmont Park, Saturday, September 30, 2017, Race 10