OCEANPORT, N.J.— Two time Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown took four shots at winning Monmouth Park's $300,000, Grade 1 United Nations Stakes by entering Three Chimneys Farm's Funtastic, Head of Plains Partners, Spellman and Dougherty's Kurilov, Al Shahania Stud's Money Multiplier and Martin Schwartz' Silverwave.
At odds of 23 to 1, Funtastic was the low horse on the Brown totem pole. The others had all proven themselves in stakes company, either here or abroad. Funtastic, who broke his maiden last July at Saratoga, was an allowance winner, once last fall and once this spring at Belmont Park. But, his three for seven record certainly did not scream “Grade 1!” to trainer Brown or his highly talented crew.
After some prompting by Three Chimneys owner Gongalo Borges Torrealba, and after a length and a half allowance win at Belmont which he won running on the front end, Brown entered him in for the 1-3/8 miles of the 65th running of the United Nations.
He then went looking for a jockey. Irad Ortiz, Joe Bravo and Rajiv Maragh were already named on Kurilov, Money Multiplier and Silverwave respectively. Antonio Gallardo, a jockey whose stock kept improving all winter in Florida, is riding regularly at Monmouth. But, here was a young rider still looking for a Grade 1 win.
The gate opened. The bell rang. Funtastic and Gallardo came out of the Number 1 stall and immediately seized a 1-1/2 length lead. From there on, Gallardo kept him to his task and, after some urging down the stretch, Funtastic and Gallardo each had their first Grade 1 victories, this one by a half length.
Money Market and Bravo came from the middle of the field of nine starters to take second for Team Brown. Bigger Picture and Kendrick Caramouche closed from ninth place on the backstretch to take third with the Brazilian-bred Vettori Kin finishing fourth.
Silverwave ended up fifth and Kurllov was eighth for Team Brown.
Funtastic ran the 11 furlongs in 2:12.36 on a firm Monmouth infield.
Brown's post race press conference was a detailed report on his conversations with Torrealba concerning starting Funtastic in a Grade 1 race. “Mr. Torrealba was convinced he could stay the distance,” Brown said.
The Mechanicville, N.Y. native, whose first exposure to horse racing was in nearby Saratoga, said he was “pleased...surprised, but not shocked” by Funtastic's performance . “After all,” he said, “His breeding (More Than Ready – Quiet Dance, she by Quiet American) is outstanding. He's bred to the purple.”
The inevitable 'Where next, Chad?' came up in the winners' circle. The two races that Brown offered were the “Arlington Million or maybe the Sword Dancer (at Saratoga). “I'll have to talk with Mr. Torrealba about that,” a smiling trainer said.
Where ever Brown goes, he is sure to keep Gallardo's number in his cell phone memory. When asked about the ride on Funtastic, Brown reported, “He knows just when to try to give him a break. He's a very solid rider.”
As a delighted Gallardo was heading back to the jocks' room, a quick handshake as a one-word “Again” from Brown sent the rider away beaming.
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