At the end of 2015, Albaugh Family Stable’s Brody’s Cause was considered a leading contender for the 2016 Triple Crown Trail after completing his juvenile season with an impressive win in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland that he followed up with a third-place finish to champion Nyquist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI). But after a lengthy winter break and an uncharacteristically dismal seventh-place finish as the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby (GII) last month, many people wiped him off their top Kentucky Derby (GI) contenders lists believing that, with time running out, he’d not be able to earn enough points to make the starting gate.
But in just under two minutes, the Dale Romans-trained son of Giant’s Causeway reminded everyone exactly what he’s capable of and signaled the clear message that he’s far from out of Derby consideration by winning the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (GI) by 1 3/4 lengths with one of his patented near last-to-first performance.
Under new jockey Luis Saez, Brody’s Cause earned 100 of those necessary points to make the field for the Run for the Roses, bringing his total to 114 and earning a fifth-position spot on the list of runners also planning on making the race in four weeks.
“He started off his three-year-old season really slow,” Romans said. “To run so bad in the Tampa Bay Derby, when I thought we were leading over a winner, it was discouraging. But if you look at his first race, he ran terrible that day, and I had thought he would win. I think he’s just a horse that needed a race.”
And race he did. Never one to be rushed early, Brody’s Cause easily settled near the back of the pack in the early going, dodging a bit of trouble on the first turn while racing just ahead of three rivals for the first half-mile, which went in splits of :23.44 and :46.75 set by maiden Laoban. As the frontrunner began his run around the far bend, Brody’s Cause was shifted into gear by Saez and began picking off his tiring rivals in front of him one by one, going from ninth while the frontrunner passed three-quarters in 1:11.44, to second at the head of the lane while racing at least five-wide.
Brody’s Cause, clear in the middle of the lane down the stretch, made the lead past the eighth pole in 1:37.26 and cruised to the wire under a strong ride to stop the clock in 1:50.20 over a main track labeled fast.
“He broke sharp,” Saez said. “He was in a good spot. On the first turn, he got in a little trouble; I had to check a little. But that was good because he came out (at the five-eighths pole), and we were in the clear. He was rolling. He was asking me to let him go and I let him go. When we came to the stretch I knew he would be there.”
My Man Sam also closed strongly from the back of the pack early to claim runner-up honors and was a head in front of third-place finisher and fellow Romans trainee Cherry Wine at the finish line. Laoban faded to finish fourth and was followed by Star Hill, Goats Town, Lookin for a Kiss, Donegal Moon, Crescent Drive, Cards of Stone, Zapperini, the 2-1 favored Zulu, American Dubai and Twizz. Also-eligibles Pinson and Hint of Roses were scratched when they failed to draw into the main body of the race.
Brody’s Cause paid $10.40, $5 and $3.40 at odds of 4-1. My Man Sam, at odds of 9-2, returned $5.80 and $4.00, while fellow 4-1 chance Cherry Wine was good for $3.60. The exacta paid $67 and the trifecta $306.20.
With the $600,000 Blue Grass paycheck, Brody’s Cause became racing’s newest millionaire and his earnings now stand at $1,123,138. His career record reads 6-3-0-1. In addition to the Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, the bay son of Giant’s Causeway broke his maiden under the Twin Spires at Churchill Downs.
“We’re going into the Kentucky Derby in perfect form,” Romans said. “He’s already won on the track, which you know is important at Churchill Downs, and the farther the better.”’