The grass has always been greener outside the barn of trainer Chad Brown. Or, at least it seems that way. The grass on the turf courses at Saratoga Race Course have certainly been a shade of Brown. As in Chad, of course.
Brown has started the Saratoga meet with a bang in stakes races run on the Spa lawn.
He hopes to keep that trend going on July 31 when he saddles two of the six runners in the $250,000 Bowling Green Stakes (G2T), a 1 3/8-mile test on the inner turf course.
The child will be represented by a 5-year-old gelding L’Imperator owned by Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables, and Robert LaPenta, and Rock emperor a 6-year-old horse owned by Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, Wonder Stables, Michael Kisber, and Michael Caruso.
The duo will have a tough act to follow. Their barn mates have done the job for the boss in the Diana Stakes (G1T) July 16—Brown finished first, second, third, and fourth in the six-horse race—and the Lake George Stakes (G3T) July 22—that was a Brown exacta.
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“The horses have really run well, for the most part,” Brown said outside his barn near the Oklahoma Training Track. “On all surfaces.”
Brown has two Bowling Green wins on his resume. He won it in 2016 with Flintshire and in 2013 with Hyper (when the race was run at 1 1/4 miles).
Rock emperor, a son of Holy Roman Emperor , has been in Brown’s barn since the summer of 2019. He has made 17 starts for him, all but two in graded stakes races. His only graded win came in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (G1T) at Belmont Park on Oct. 9, 2021.
In his last four tries, Rockemperor, who will be ridden by Flavien Prat, has not finished better than fifth. In his most recent start, he was fifth in the Resorts World Casino Manhattan Stakes (G1T) at Belmont on June 11. Brown finished first and second in that race with Tribhuvan spirit Adhamo .
“He has not been able to regain his form from last fall,” Brown said. “But he is training really well, and he prefers firm ground. If it’s firm Saturday, I feel like he is finally, in his works, that he is rounding into the best form I have seen in the mornings.”
One question that lingers about the recent form of Rockemperor is his age.
“He is getting up there in age a little bit,” Brown said. “You wonder if he has tailed off some. It’s a fair question.”
L’Imperator, also by Holy Roman Emperor, will be ridden by Manny Franco. He was last seen in the Manhattan, finishing seventh.
“He just didn’t have a good trip,” Brown said. “I’m not sure what he would have done, ultimately. He was sort of bottled up the whole way, and we never really got to see him run. So, we are going to try to get this distance, which is new for me and him to try together.”
Also entered in the Bowling Green is Donegal Racing and Joseph Bulger’s 8-year-old Arklow trained by Brad Cox, Fitriani Hay’s 5-year-old Highland Chief trained by Graham Motion, Three Diamonds Farm’s 8-year-old Cross Border , trained by Mike Maker, and Doug Arnold Jr. and Jonathan Wilmot’s 5-year-old Cibolian a longshot trained by Rodolphe Brisset.
Arklow and Highland Chief are the 2-1 and 5-2 favorites on the morning line, respectively.