That Instilled Regard snatched and grabbed victory in Saturday’s Grade 1 Manhattan Stakes at Belmont Park isn’t surprising, coming from a horse with nearly $1 million in career earnings. That the Chad Brown-trainee took Manhattan wasn’t surprising either, considering this was Brown’s sixth Manhattan title in nine years. It was also the third time he went back-to-back in the Manhattan.
Nor was it surprising the four-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer filled the exacta, with Rockemperor – your co-favorite at 2/1 with his stablemate – finishing second. This is what Brown does: win turf races. Savvy bettors see he wins them at a sterling 26% clip. Brown’s turf charges, meanwhile, hit the board nearly 60% of the time.
Last year, Brown’s horses set a North American record, earning $31,112,114. He won three Breeders’ Cup races, giving him 15. And he added his fourth consecutive Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer.
But this is also what Brown can do for horses in his stable: make them find gears and domain they might not find under any other trainer. And the 5-year-old Instilled Regard, who now has five wins and more than $983,000 in 18 career starts, is yet another example of Brown’s wizardry.
Instilled Regard Super-sized the Kentucky Derby Superfecta
Originally in Jerry Hollendorfer’s barn, Instilled Regard broke his maiden with a 4 ¾-length flourish at Santa Anita Park in October 2017. But he was probably best known as the last horse to get into the 2018 Kentucky Derby field. Sent off as the longest shot at 90/1, Instilled Regard somehow sneaked into fourth. Even with 5/2 favorite Justify winning and two other low-priced horses – Good Magic and Audible – filling the trifecta, this produced a $1 superfecta ticket of more than $19,600.
Later that summer, owner Larry Best moved Instilled Regard to Brown’s barn. He came back from a nearly five-month layoff just in time to finish last in the Pennsylvania Derby – 25 ¾ lengths behind winner McKinzie. That got Brown’s wheels turning.
“He had given me a bit of a feel that he would perform well on the turf when we started training him, and after he ran poorly in the Pennsylvania Derby, it created an opportunity to breeze him on the grass,” Brown told Bloodhorse. “We tried something new and he breezed quite well.”
Sink or Swim in the Grass
To find out how well Instilled Regard handled grass, Brown threw him into the deep end of the turf pool: the Grade 1 Hollywood Stakes at Del Mar in December 2018. Instilled Regard finished a solid third, recording a 109 Equibase Speed Figure.
He was literally off and running from there. Instilled Regard finished second and third in two allowance races bookended around a poor sixth in the Grade 2 Alysheba Stakes at Churchill Downs on the Kentucky Oaks undercard. That marked the last time Instilled Regard touched dirt in a race.
Seven months later, Instilled Regard won his first turf stakes, the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale Stakes at Gulfstream, last December. That broke an eight-race losing streak and propelled him into a third at the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational in January.
Instilled Regard Building Respect Slowly
When racing resumed at Belmont Park, Brown wasted little time turning Instilled Regard loose. On the track’s opening weekend in early June, Instilled Regard won the Grade 2 Fort Marcy Stakes as the 2/1 favorite. Even with that, he was considered a lukewarm favorite coming into the Manhattan.
Again, Instilled Regard surpassed expectations. The same late kick that got him into the Derby superfecta, that won the Fort Marcy, went on display again. With Rockemperor finally in control after turning back 11/1 pacesetting upstart Cross Border, Instilled Regard’s jockey, Irad Ortiz Jr., displayed why he is one of the top riders in the world.
He sent Instilled Regard through a narrow opening between Rockemperor and the fast-closing Sadler’s Joy at the sixteenth pole. The move literally gave Instilled Regard a neck victory over Rockemperor.
“In the end, Instilled Regard just made the last move of the chess match,” Brown said after the race.
“His mind is getting better and better every time he runs on the grass,” Ortiz said after the race. “With this horse, he does everything you want. I like that. I can use it to get in position and he comes back to me so well. He saved all his energy until the end. When I asked him for it, he gave it.”