Saratoga-Report Exclusive: Brooklyn Strong’s locally-based breeders enjoyed the Derby despite disappointing results
their horse is entered in The Pegasus this weekend
By John Clarke
Brooklyn Strong’s Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct in November of 2020 Bwas a close race. Ten for Ten, ridden by José Ortiz, led most of the way. The New York bred, Brooklyn Strong, collared him at the eighth pole and they had an extended battle down the lane, the grey colored Ten for Ten on the inside and the bay Brooklyn Strong on the outside. It didn’t appear that Brooklyn Strong would get by, but he surged just before the wire and won by half a length.
At their Shamrock Hill farm in Fort Edward, New York, Cheryl Prudhomme and Michael Gallivan watched the race on television. Their screams as Brooklyn Strong pulled ahead sent their dogs Giselle and Sebastian into a frenzy as they weren’t used to this kind of excitement. Cheryl and Michael had every reason to be excited. Brooklyn Strong was born at Shamrock Hill. The couple owns Brooklyn Strong’s dam Riviera Chic and bred the mare to the stallion Wicked Strong. The subsequent foal was sold at the Fasig-Tipton Mixed Sale in October 2018 for $30,000. In 2020, Mark Schwartz would pay the bargain sum of $5000 at a 2-year-old sale in Florida. As a Brooklyn guy, Mark came up with the name, Brooklyn Strong.
Following The Remsen, Brooklyn Strong had some physical problems, and his three-year-old career was delayed until the Wood Memorial in April 2021. In that race, he was trapped inside and was shut off when making a move along the rail. He finished fifth. It was expected that The Preakness would be his next race but when a Kentucky Derby opening became available, he was entered. This gave Cheryl and Michael an opportunity to attend the Derby in Louisville. As breeders of the horse, they enjoyed VIP treatment. They were able to see their homebred during the “walkover”, the famous procession of horses from the barn area to the paddock at Churchill Downs. Unfortunately, Brooklyn Strong experienced more bad racing luck and finished up the track. He is now being pointed toward the Pegasus Stakes on Sunday, June 13 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Shamrock Hill is a small farm on 100 acres in Fort Edward. The name of the farm is a nod to Michael’s Irish heritage. It is a pretty farm; the Green Mountains of Vermont are visible in the distance. Cheryl and Michael own 10 mares and their business plan is to sell foals as weanlings or yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton sale in Saratoga. They typically breed their mares to Kentucky stallions. They transport the mares to Kentucky themselves, pulling a trailer for the 800 mile trip.
Cheryl and Michael purchased Shamrock Hill 18 years ago. They have built barns and a personal residence on the property. An indoor exercise facility for their young horses is particularly valuable as it allows horses to exercise safely during the snowy, icy upstate winters.
During a recent visit to their farm, I saw Brooklyn Strong’s dam, Riviera Chic, in the paddock. The whole story became even more improbable when I learned that Cheryl and Michael received Riviera Chic as a gift from a friend who felt that he had one too many mares. Riviera is a pretty mare. Her 2020 foal is an absolutely stunning colt by Practical Joke. The horse, now a yearling, will be sold in August at the Fasig-Tipton New York sale in Saratoga. Given Brooklyn Strong’s success, his half-brother should be popular. Cheryl and Michael will also sell two more foals in Saratoga, a handsome colt by Mo Town and a very nice filly by Klimt.
The next race for Brooklyn Strong will be The Pegasus, run at a mile and 1/16 on the dirt track at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. It looks like a short field of 6 horses will be entered. Unfortunately for Brooklyn Strong the Brad Cox trained Mandaloun, second in the Kentucky Derby, will run. Brooklyn Strong is by Wicked Strong and out of a Medaglia d’Oro mare. He is bred to excel at distances over a mile. On his best day he is competitive with a horse like Mandaloun. The Pegasus is typically used as a prep for famous races like the Haskell at Monmouth or the Travers at Saratoga. If Brooklyn Strong runs well on Sunday, he could enter either of these lucrative Grade 1 races.
For Cheryl Prudhomme and Michel Gallivan, Brooklyn Strong has already taken them on the ride of a lifetime. Can the ride continue? Fingers crossed.