Tuesday, May. 28, 2024

The Whole Horse Wins Callaway Novice

Gus Brown said his win on Cherokeeinthehills in the $100,000 AFLAC U.S. Championship Supreme stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway, Pine Mountain, Ga., Nov. 6, was just "a benefit from everyone else's hard work."

Brown picked up the novice ride for owner Marilyn Ketts and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, neither of whom he rides for regularly. Jockeys Danielle Hodsdon and Chip Miller have done most of the riding on the son of Cherokee Colony, and though he's always looked to be competitive in the novice division, he just wasn't quite putting it all together.

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Gus Brown said his win on Cherokeeinthehills in the $100,000 AFLAC U.S. Championship Supreme stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway, Pine Mountain, Ga., Nov. 6, was just “a benefit from everyone else’s hard work.”

Brown picked up the novice ride for owner Marilyn Ketts and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, neither of whom he rides for regularly. Jockeys Danielle Hodsdon and Chip Miller have done most of the riding on the son of Cherokee Colony, and though he’s always looked to be competitive in the novice division, he just wasn’t quite putting it all together.

Brown said that Sheppard told him the bay gelding has been a work in progress; a horse with a lot of ability on the flat but some trouble running and jumping.

“Obviously his jumping has really developed because he jumped for me as well as you could ask a horse to jump around that course,” said Brown. “I was lucky enough to get on the whole horse at Callaway.”

Brown also got lucky to draw the No. 1 post. He had the inside track all the way around on the right-handed, hilly and always turning course.

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“You have to be so handy on that track, you can’t be out the back or going wide because you are always losing ground,” said Brown. “I was concerned before the race, because the ground was soft, and Cherokeeinthehills is a huge, massive horse. I wasn’t sure if he could handle the turns, but he rode like a motorbike–so balanced for a big horse.”

Brown took the lead at the last fence on the backstretch, the third fence from home, and held the lead to the wire. Even though Raise A Storm (Robert Massey) made a valiant run at him, Cherokeeinthehills had more gas in the tank and just scooted away to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Massey was second, and Hay Getoutofmyway (Brian Korrell) was third.

This was Brown’s first Grade I win for someone other than trainer Sanna Hendriks, for whom he used to work, and it is the third time he’s won Callaway’s feature race.

Three years ago he won on Praise The Prince and two years ago on McDynamo. Both those horses have gone on to be top contenders in the open stakes ranks, and Brown would be very interested to see just how good Cherokeeinthehills might be.

“Of all three horses, he was the easiest one to win with,” said Brown. “It will be good to see what this one can do.”

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