Ever heard of Upper Sandusky (Ohio) harness racing trainer Brian Brown? He's the man that picked out 1:47 pacer Won The West at the yearling sales, broke him in, qualified him and then forwarded the gifted gelding on to Michael and Ron Burke to do his training.
That son ofand Gabrielle (Dragons Lair) went on to win 36 races and $3,966,156. In fact the 7-year-old is still racing under the guidance of the Burkes at Canonsburg in Pennsylvania. Won The West and David Miller last raced on September 3 when finishing second behind We Will See at Mohawk.
But Brown said he had no regrets whatsoever letting the champion move on to the Burkes.
“He chipped his ankle as a 2-year-old and when he recovered I qualified him and sent him on to the Burkes. Who knows what he would have achieved with me, but one thing I do know is that he was exceptionally well cared for by Mick and Ron.
“They are fantastic trainers and they got the best out of him. I have no regrets whatsoever because a lot of good has come out of it. I have had great communication with the Burke family ever since and I can phone them any time I want advice. They are great friends,” Brown told Harnesslink.
“Furthermore the same owners have continued to provide me with good quality young stock. They have kept buying 2 & 3 year-olds for me, so in the long run everything has worked out well,” he added.
Brown qualified Won The West at The Meadows on February 2, 2007 and a week later he had his first start for Burke’s father Michael. Burke junior took over the training duties in April 2009.
Brown was born into a harness racing family. His grandfather James France raced horses and his father Robert and Uncle William were training partners when he was growing up.
“It was a natural progression for me to be involved in harness racing. It was all I wanted to do and I got straight into it from school. I had been around them all my life and I couldn’t wait to make a career out of it,” Brown said.
Brown’s parents always knew their son was destined to be a horseman.
“When we were young our parents would take us to the fairs in Ohio and my brothers would head straight to the fairgrounds while I’d spend my dollar on a race program.
Right from an early age I knew what I wanted in life,” Brown said.
He worked for his family when he left school and had two other jobs before going out on his own in 1988.
“I worked on a broodmare farm and didn’t like that, and I also did six months with Ivan Sugg (offame), who is also based here in Ohio.
I enjoy working my own team.
“I started out with about eight to 12 horses in my first 10 years and then in the last decade I’ve built the numbers up to between 20 and 30 horses.”
Brown drove 251 winners between 1980 and 1998 but since then has put all of his efforts into training.
“I get a bigger thrill out of training. Perhaps if I was 100 pounds lighter I’d still be driving but that’s something I like to leave up to the professionals. Lately I’ve been using drivers like Tim Tetrick, Ron Pierce and Brett and David Miller to drive my horses. I’m certainly not in their class,” Brown said.
Since 1992 Brown has trained 462 winners from 2,566 starters. He has also placed 759 nines for just over $3.5 million in career purses.
His best year wins-wise was in 2002 when he won 63 races, however stakes-wise his $526,774 recorded last season was a career best.
However that could be toppled this year. So far in 2011 he has won 37 races and banked $505,714.
Brown put down his recent success to the fact he was prepared to travel long distances in order to achieve his wins.
“I race all over the place and am willing to travel to succeed. I travel three hours to the Meadows and seven hours to Pocono and Chester. This day and age you have to put in in order to make a living,” the 47-year-old said.
However he said he might lessen the travel load when the slots come to Ohio on October 13.
“The Governor has signed the deal and hopefully the stakes will increase here. It’s the shot in the arm the industry needs in this state. If it is then maybe I will stay closer to home.”
Brown has three nice horses in his stable –3-year-old gelding, Something For Doc (1:51.2) who finished fifth in the recent Little Brown Jug Final; 2-year-old colt, Damon Blue Chip (1:56.3); and 2-year-old colt, Special Forces (1:51.1).
“I really like Special Forces a lot but he chipped a sesamoid and that has put him back a bit. I love buying and training babies. There is no better feeling that to buy them, break them in, and then see them do the business from scratch on the racetrack,” he said.
Brown is married to Jessica and they have two children – Jessica (20) and Beau (18).
My wife’s (nee Williams) family is also involved in harness racing. In fact I met my sweetheart at the racetrack,” Brown said.
His other interests in life are College basketball and football. He also enjoys playing poker.
“You don’t get much spare time in this job and when I do I like to spend as much of it as possible with family,” Brown said.
by Duane RANGER (editor)
(1) Won The West – the champion pacer Brian Brown bought at the Sales and broke in before handing him on to Ron Burke:
(2) Brian Brown’s hometown of Upper Sandusky Ohio:
(3) Won The West winning the American National at Balmoral on November 3, 2007:
(4) Won The West winning the $190,000 Tattersall Pace at the Red Mile in 1:49.1 on October 6, 2007: