New York native Chad Brown wanted to be a veterinarian before venturing into a career training thoroughbreds, at one point studying at Cornell University during the school year and summering under the tutelage of Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey at Saratoga. After briefly interning with a vet following graduation with his bachelors in animal sciences from Cornell, Brown moved on to assist another Hall of Famer, Bobby Frankel, in 2002. And he remained with Frankel for more than five years. On his own since 2007, Brown-trained runners have won more than 900 times from almost 3,700 starts and earned nearly $75 million.
So far, Brown’s only trip to the Kentucky Derby (GI) has been with Normandy Invasion, who finished fourth in 2013. But what the 38-year-old trainer lacks so far in Triple Crown race success he has more than made up for with dozens of other graded stakes winners, including seven Breeders’ Cup winners — Maram, Stepanie’s Kitten, Wavell Avenue, Dayathespa, Bobby’s Kitten, Zagora and Lady Eli. Zagora was named Champion Turf Female in 2012, and 2011 Beverly D. Stakes (GIT) winner Stacelita claimed the same honor the previous year under Brown’s guidance.
This year, Brown is Derby ready with two runners that have earned enough points to make the starting gate — Gotham Stakes (GIII) winner Shagaf and Blue Grass Stakes (GI) runner-up My Man Sam. Shadwell Stable’s well-bred homebred Shagaf was the Wood Memorial (GI) favorite after his grinding Gotham victory, but could only manage a fifth-place finish that day in his final Derby prep. Though he did bump a bit with a rival in the lane, he mostly just raced evenly and without the spark that he’d had previously. He arrived in Louisville on April 19 and has been training well under the Twin Spires after spending the past several weeks in New York.
My Man Sam enters the Derby off a very wide, yet respectable, second in the Blue Grass. Though he only owns one career win, he did so at a route of ground and by a whopping eight lengths, his only poor performance in his four-race career coming at the six-furlong sprint distance. He has his work cut out for him in the Derby but has an off-the-pace running style that may help his chances.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law in Kentucky known as the “Borell Law.”Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time.She lives in Robinson, Texas, with her longtime beau, Tony. She is the executive director of the 501(c)(3) non-profit horse rescue, The Bridge Sanctuary.