Trainer Brian Brown breathes a sigh of relief after a challenging week.
by Alex Campbell
After recording 10 wins in her first 11 starts of the year, Blazin Britches appeared to be heading in the wrong direction in the lead up to her start in the $500,000 Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly pace on Friday night at Hoosier Park.
Blazin Britches broke stride before the start of the $234,000 Glen Garnsey Memorial on Oct. 8 at Red Mile, and last week she faded to seventh after making an early move in the Breeders Crown elimination. She rebounded in a big way when it counted, as she recorded a half-length win over Caviart Ally in the Crown final.
Blazin Britches broke well and settled along the inside in the early going, while Agent Q and Idyllic Beach went out for the lead. Driver Trace Tetrick, a Hoosier Park regular, made a first-over move along the backstretch to get Blazin Britches to the front, and she held off all challengers in the stretch, crossing the wire in 1:52.1. Caviart Ally loomed at the top of the stretch, but couldn’t get by the game Blazin Britches. After being forwardly placed early, Idyllic Beach came on late for third, while the favorite, Agent Q, was fourth.
“I wanted to sit close, maybe move back to the front, and get a good trip,” Tetrick said. “I thought it was the right move to make and it worked out in the end.”
Tetrick, who’s been Blazin Britches’ driver for 13 of her 15 starts this year, recorded his third career Breeders Crown victory.
“To win at your home track, it’s unbelievable,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity that they’ve given me and I’m just glad that we’ve all come together as a team and we’ve succeeded.”
Trainer Brian Brown said he was breathing a big sigh of relief after seeing Blazin Britches rebound in the Breeders Crown. Following her break in the Glen Garnsey Memorial, Blazin Britches made up a significant amount of ground on her rivals in the late going to finish fourth, but Brown believed that the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven may have come out of that effort a little worse for wear.
“I’m not sure that mile in Lexington didn’t hurt her a little,” he said. “My cousin timed her own mile in :49-and-a piece in Lexington. On that track, I think it bored her up a little. Her feet were bugging her. She’s always had some stifle problems. We worked on it all week.”
Brown said the work that groom Tim Carruthers, blacksmith Eric Thomas, and veterinarian Dr. John Riker did this week in advance of the race led to Blazin Britches’ form reversal.
“She was no good last week,” Brown said. “Last week, she was just sore and a little too hot. Trace had to move her before the quarter and her head was way up in the air. It was not a good day, but I could tell after all the work that my people did this week, I was finally happy with her. She was relaxed, better-gaited and today, warming up, I was thrilled with her.”
A key equipment change also played a big part in the victory, Brown said. With the rainy conditions and sloppy track, Brown opted for an aluminum shoe in the Breeders Crown after Blazin Britches ran in a flip flop last week.
“When the track is muddy, you generally don’t race in a flip flop,” he said. “So maybe it was to my best that it rained because maybe I wouldn’t have changed them, but I could tell warming up that she was travelling better in the aluminum shoes.”
It was the second Breeders Crown win for owner/breeder Emerald Highlands Farm, who won their first Crown race with Colors a Virgin – and Tetrick — in the Crown Mare Pace at Woodbine in 2015.
“We were glad to see the real Britches show up tonight,” said Bruce Trogdon, owner of Emerald Highlands Farm. “I think she’s the fastest filly of all time. I know that’s a crazy thought. She’s got issues and everything, but whoa, the horse has unbelievable ability. I was happy to see it tonight.”
Following her win, Brown said Blazin Britches could return to action next weekend right back at Hoosier Park in the $115,000 USS Indianapolis Memorial Stakes.
“She could race here next week,” he said. “We’ll see how things go. If she doesn’t race again this year, I’m okay with that. I think she stamped herself as the best filly tonight in the crop. She doesn’t have to race again this year. If she’s okay and comes out of this, we’ll race again.”
Trogdon said it was also possible that Blazin Britches could be bred to another Emerald Highlands Farm homebred, Fear The Dragon, who will race in Saturday’s $60,000 Pegasus as Hoosier Park.
“Brian doesn’t want me to quit with her, but we might have to embryo transplant her to Fear The Dragon,” he said. “I’d hate to have Dragon not get that opportunity.”