After watching the 4-year-old filly McKulick make a powerful winning move in the stretch of the 28th running of the $250,000 Glens Falls Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 3, trainer Chad Brown thought about Mary.
Mary McKulick, who the filly is named for, passed away in 2020 at the age of 67.
When Brown, then 30, started his own stable in 2007, it was just Mary, who kept the books, and him.
Trainer Chad Brown with McKulick after her victory in the Glens Falls Stakes
“She was the first person I hired when I started the business,” Brown said in the winner’s circle after McKulick caught heavily favored War Like Goddess and beat her by a neck. “I really would not be standing here today if I didn’t have someone with her expertise in bookkeeping and organization and management of a training organization.”
Before joining Brown, McKulick had worked with other trainers in the same capacity. She knew horses, too. Her brother is retired trainer Phil Hauswald. Mary’s husband Ron joined Brown in the winner’s circle after the race.
“Mary really took me in and made sure right from Day One that we were organized,” Brown said. “I learned a lot from her. I remember looking back before she passed away and I couldn’t believe how small we started and how big this thing got.”
Brown’s barn has become one of the strongest in the country and he has won the Eclipse Award as the nation’s leading trainer four times (2016-2019).
McKulick was sired by Frankel, who was named for another important person in Brown’s life, the late Hall of Fame trainer Bobby Frankel. Brown was an assistant to Frankel for five years before going out on his own.
“I learned how to train horses under Frankel,” Brown said. “(Mary) was a really integral part of the foundation of my company.”
McKulick who was ridden by Saratoga’s leading rider Irad Ortiz Jr., kicked in strongly in the stretch and caught War Like Goddess in the final jumps. War Like Goddess, who was ridden by Joel Rosario, was going for her third straight win in the 1 1/2-mile Glens Falls, which was run over a firm inner turf course.
War Like Goddess made her big for victory when she and Rosario moved off the rail heading into the final turn and engaged Vergara , who had taken the lead at the mile. War Like Goddess shook free and held the lead into the final sixteenth before McKulick made her final push.
“Irad rode a masterful race,” Brown said. “When (War Like Goddess) came off the rail down the backside before the final turn, Irad cleverly got off the rail as well and followed her and stayed away from the horse (pacesetter Elegant Taste ) that was stopping on the rail. All those moves really made the difference.”
“Chad told me just to cover her up and to just bide my time until she was ready and that’s what I did,” said Ortiz, who won his seventh stakes race of the meet.
McKulick is owned by Seth Klarman’s Klaravich Stables and completed the marathon in a time of 2:27.05. She paid $10.40 as the 4-1 second choice.
Owned by George Krikorian, War Like Goddess, who normally does her best running late, was close up early and was fighting Rosario early on. She turned her head from side to side, obviously rank.
“She wasn’t horrible,” Mott, who had won three races earlier on the card, said as he watched the replay in the clubhouse. “She was maybe a little bit overly anxious early in the race. When they have been pulling like that, they don’t accelerate the same way.”
Amazing Grace and Tyler Gaffalione finished third for Christophe Clement and Sopran Basilea and jockey Manny Franco were fourth. Sopran Basilea, trained by Graham Motion, was pulled up during the gallop out and suffered a catastrophic injury to her right front leg and was euthanized on the track.