DONNY BROWN AND JUST ONE TIME HIT THE BIG TIME
By Dick Jerardi
Donny Brown had watched his horses in plenty of races, but nothing like a Grade II at Gulfstream Park on Pegasus Day, the final Saturday of January.
But there he was awaiting the Inside Information where he and his partners owned the favorite, 4-year-old Pennsylvania bred filly Just One Time.
It was definitely not like running at Presque Isle Downs or Penn National where Just One Time had run all of her races. She had won four of them, including two Pa. bred stakes, convincingly.
In fact, the filly was winning so big and running so fast that Todd Mosteller of Commonwealth New Era Racing offered to purchase a minority interest. A deal was made after her race at Penn in October. She was moved to the Brad Cox barn and had been training at the Fair Grounds prior to coming to South Florida.
“My nerves were bad all morning to begin with because it was my first graded stakes,’’ Brown said. “I spent some time on the phone with my partner Tom McClay just telling him my nerves were bad. He was like `you’ll be alright, get over there.’’’
So he went over there and Just One Time, who had been up with the pace in all her prior starts, reared in the gate and then broke poorly.
“I was like `oh, no,’’’ Brown said. “As the race developed, I was thinking we might be in trouble here. We knew she had talent. We knew she was a good horse.’’
They did not know, what nobody knew was how she would run when she was taken out of her comfort zone. In fact, after the race, Just One Time’s jockey Joel Rosario told Brown she was not doing well taking dirt in her face.
But Rosario took her wide, let her see air and she began to run, pleasing her jockey. She kept on running past all the horses in front of her to win the race.
“I wasn’t really happy until they crossed the finish line,’’ Brown said. “Not because I was worried about winning, but I just wanted her to show up and do a good job and be the horse we hoped she could be.’’
Just One Time was all that and more. If she was able to beat that field when she was taken completely out of her typical running style, there is no telling how good she might be.
The idea behind sending Just One Time to Cox was to get her into bigger races. Now, it’s on to the next big race, perhaps the $500,000 Grade I Madison at Keeneland on April 9, Blue Grass Stakes Day.
Brown and McClay stand Warrior’s Reward, a Grade I winning son of Medaglia D’Oro, at WynOaks Farm in York County, not far from the Maryland border and the Susquehanna River. Expect many of the stallions Pa. bred sons and daughters to race at Parx in coming years. Brown owns Black n Bleu restaurant (steaks, seafood, pasta) in Mechanicsburg, not too far from Harrisburg.
Brown got back home from Florida two nights after the biggest win of his racing career and was “still on Cloud 9 two days later and the dream goes on.’’
When Brown was on the Gulfstream Park backstretch to see Just One Time before the race, the horse in the next stall just happened to be Knicks Go, the almost certain 2021 Horse of the Year.
In his final race before heading to stud, Knicks Go finished second in the Pegasus to Life Is Good. There will come a time when Just One Time will be in demand as a broodmare, but, for now, there are races to be won.