McKulick Takes Aim at Second Leg of Turf Triple


Photo: Coglianese Photos/Chelsea Durand
McKulick wins the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes at Belmont Park

Grade 1 wins tend to build a powerful bond between horses and their trainers.

Yet for trainer Chad Brown, that weak spot in his heart runs deeper than usual with his top-level  3-year-old turf filly McKulick .

For all of the joy Brown felt after McKulick's 1 3/4-length victory over With The Moonlight  in the Belmont Oaks Invitational Stakes (G1T), what carried the emotions of the moment over the top was that the daughter of Frankel  is named for someone special in Brown's life.

Back when Brown started training in 2007, the first person he hired was Mary McKulick to handle his bookkeeping. For 13 years they worked together as a team until McKulick decided to retire in 2020, but then, shortly thereafter, she sadly passed away at the age of 67.

The naming of Klaravich Stables' talented filly after her is just one of the ways Brown keeps her memory alive.

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"I'm thinking of her," Brown said about his long-time friend and right-hand person after McKulick rallied from fifth to capture the July 9 Belmont Oaks at a 1 1/4-mile distance on turf.

McKulick will be on Brown's mind again Aug. 7 when the grade 1 winner bearing her name takes aim at the second leg of the New York Racing Association's Turf Triple for 3-year-old fillies, facing five rivals in the $700,000 Saratoga Oaks Invitational Stakes (G3T) at Saratoga Race Course.

"We always thought she was a nice filly, especially at that mile and a quarter distance," Brown said. "The timing is a little tight but she breezed good and we'll go right back in the second leg of the series."

McKulick won her Aug. 8 career debut at Saratoga a year ago, then finished third in the Miss Grillo Stakes (G2T) before a shin issue ended her 2-year-old season. In her two 2022 starts before the Belmont Oaks, she was second to Saratoga Oaks starters in both the Regret Stakes (G3T) and Edgewood Stakes (G2T), both at Churchill Downs.

She was purchased for Brown and Klaravich Stables by Mike Ryan, agent, at the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale  for $245,370 out of the Hazelwood Bloodstock consignment. She was bred in Great Britain by Essafinaat UK out of the Makfi  mare Astrelle. 

Brown also entered Bobby Flay's Contemporary Art  and Little Red Feather Racing's Oakhurst in the 1 3/16-mile Saratoga Oaks.

Contemporary Art was last seen winning a June 17 maiden race by 4 1/2 lengths at Belmont Park in the homebred daughter of Dubawi 's second start, while Oakhurst (Mr Speaker  ) was second in the one-mile Wild Applause Stakes on turf last time out.

"It's a step up in class for both of them but the 1 3/16-mile distance looks good for Contemporary Art," Brown said.

Godolphin's With The Moonlight  appeared to be headed to the winner's circle in the Belmont Oaks as she led in mid-stretch of her initial American race, but the homebred daughter of Frankel could fend off the late kick of McKulick and settled for second.

Trained by Charlie Appleby, she has won three of seven starts, with one of those victories coming at a 1 1/4-mile distance in Great Britain.

Whitham Thoroughbreds' homebred Walkathon  beat McKulick in the Regret, pressing the pace from second in her stakes debut and winning by 1 1/4 lengths. The daughter of Twirling Candy   has won her last three starts for trainer Ian Wilkes.

The field also includes Marc Detampel and Fergus Galvin's New Year's Eve , a daughter of Kitten's Joy who beat McKulick in the Edgewood by 2 3/4 lengths but was a dull eighth in the Belmont Oaks for trainer Brendan Walsh.

Entries: Saratoga Oaks Invitational S. (G3T)

Saratoga Race Course, Sunday, August 07, 2022, Race 7

  • Grade IIIT
  • 1 3/16m
  • Turf
  • $700,000
  • 3 yo Fillies
  • 4:29 PM (local)
PP Horse Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1 1New Year's Eve (KY)Keeneland Sales Graduate Tyler Gaffalione 121 Brendan P. Walsh 8/1
2 2McKulick (GB) Irad Ortiz, Jr. 121 Chad C. Brown 8/5
3 3With The Moonlight (IRE) William T. Buick 121 Charles Appleby 5/2
4 4Walkathon (KY) Julien R. Leparoux 121 Ian R. Wilkes 3/1
5 5Contemporary Art (KY) Flavien Prat 121 Chad C. Brown 6/1
6 6Oakhurst (KY) Joel Rosario 121 Chad C. Brown 10/1