Reprinted from the Bloodhorse
It wasn’t much of a surprise trainer Chad Brown sent out the winner of the $300,000 United Nations Stakes (G1T) at Monmouth Park June 30.
He is the nation’s top turf conditioner by a wide margin and a two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer, and he sent out four of nine starters in the 1 3/8-mile turf stakes.
Funtastic, gr/ro, 4/c
More Than Ready — Quiet Dance, by Quiet American
More Than Ready stands at WinStar Farm LLC for $75,000 (2018).
What was a stunner on a brutally hot day at the Jersey Shore was which of his four uncoupled starters crossed the wire first. Even though Brown sent out the top three betting choices in the race, it was Funtastic who made a laughingstock of his 23-1 odds and posted a gate-to-wire, half-length victory over stablemate Money Multiplier. It was the first grade 1 win for both the 4-year-old More Than Ready colt and rider Antonio Gallardo.
“I really can’t remember winning a turf race at those odds,” Brown said with a smile. “Maybe it was in my first year of training.”
Considering Brown started training in 2007 and has amassed more than $130.8 million in earnings, that covers a lot of ground, and the Three Chimneys Farm colt certainly took an unusual path to a grade 1 victory. The United Nations was his graded stakes debut in his ninth start, and he was last seen May 26, when he won a second-level optional-claiming allowance at 1 1/2 miles on the Belmont Park turf.
“I was pleasantly surprised but not shocked,” said Brown, who took special satisfaction in winning a race he said was a personal favorite of his mentor, deceased Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. “I knew it would be a tough race, and the owner, Mr. (Goncalo Borges) Torrealba, deserves all credit. He was sure this horse could stay a distance of ground in grade 1 class.
“I was thinking about the (Woodford Reserve) Manhattan (G1T, June 9 at Belmont), then decided to run in a long allowance race at Belmont, and if he ran well, then maybe the United Nations would be a better race for him. Then as this race approached, I thought this wasn’t going to be easy, either. Mr. Torrealba said, ‘I want to run. Let’s just see how he stands.'”
How Funtastic stands is a candidate for either the Aug. 11 Arlington Million (G1T) at Arlington International Racecourse or the Aug. 25 Sword Dancer (G1T) at Saratoga Race Course, and Gallardo also deserves a large share of the credit for the frontrunning win that put the colt in the spotlight.
“I made the lead easy, and I felt I had a lot of horse. Every time I asked him, he gave me something more and more. I could see he wanted to win,” the rider said.
After a break from the inside post, Gallardo seized control at the start and stayed in front the rest of the way. He set fractions of :48.89 and 1:13.52 through six furlongs. Ahead by two lengths after a mile, the horse who appeared to be a rabbit for his stablemates outfoxed all of them and had enough speed in reserve to hold off Money Multiplier, the 2-1 favorite.
“Antonio rode a wonderful race to take the initiative coming out the race,” Brown said. “He used his horse a little bit to get position and then backed it down enough to carry him all the way. I thought it was a really, really superb ride. It was his first grade 1 win, and I was so happy to be a part of it. He’s really a top rider.”
Bigger Picture, the 2017 United Nations winner, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Money Multiplier and half a length ahead of Vettori Kin. Brown also finished fifth with Silverwave and eighth with Kurilov. The final time was 2:12.36.
For Gallardo, his first grade 1 victory was a special moment.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “I’m a seven-time leading jockey in the United States, and twice I had the second most wins in the United States. I have a grade 2 win, but not a grade 1. Before the race, I told my mother I have to get a grade 1 win. She said, ‘Don’t worry. You’ll get it today.'”That win was the fourth in nine starts for Funtastic and pushed his earnings to $384,943. Bred by Besilu Stables in Kentucky, out of the Quiet American mare Quiet Dance, Funtastic has the kind of pedigree that boded well for a grade 1 win at some point in the colt’s career, according to his trainer
“He’s an outstandingly bred horse. He’s a half to (2005 Horse of the Year) Saint Liam,” Brown said. “I know he was a dirt horse, but Funtastic was bred in the purple and had a right to be a grade 1 horse on some circuits.”