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Trot N.A. Cup Spring Book: #9

Published: April 9, 2018 2:15 pm ET

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The countdown to the 2018 Pepsi North America Cup is on, with Trot Magazine profiling the horses predicted to be the top contenders for Canadian harness racing's richest prize.

At 21-1, Done Well will be one of trainer Brian Brown's chances at a repeat, coming at #9 in Trot Magazine's 2018 Pepsi North America Cup Spring Book.

Owned by Ohio's Jim Stambaugh, Milt Leeman, Alan Keith & the Wingfield Brothers LLC, Done Well had a brief but impressive rookie season with four stakes wins in as many starts without tasting defeat. Trot Insider caught up with Brown, winner of the 2017 Pepsi North America Cup with Fear The Dragon, for an update on the son of Well Said.

Where did he winter?

Spring Garden Ranch, Florida

When did you start back with him?

“He actually had a crack in the cannon bone on a hind leg right above the ankle [making us shut him down August of last year]. I think he only stood in the stall for 30 days. We had him x-rayed and he looked pretty good, then he got turned out on the first of December and that’s when we started him back.”

Where are you at with him right now?

“He was really no good [qualifying March 23 at Spring Garden Ranch]. It was the first time that horse has ever qualified, raced, trained, anything, when he’s had a bad day. He’s never had a bad day, jogging [or] anything. When he got back to the barn, he had blood coming out of his nose. But when they scoped him, they knew it was more than just bleeding. We took him to the clinic in Ocala [Florida], they x-rayed his lungs and they found what they called a ‘focal pneumonia’ which is basically an abscess. It was small, but it’s there.

“We stopped and were jogging him two miles a day. He’s on a truck right now by himself heading to Lexington to go into an oxygen chamber. He’ll be there for about 10 days and he’ll go to Riddle & Rood to have his lungs x-rayed again. Best case, he heals and it will be two weeks from when we x-rayed him the first time. Worst case, he’ll have to spend another week in the chamber.

"I’ve never had [to deal with] this before. That horse was great training right up to the week he qualified; you would have never known anything was wrong. His last training [mile was] probably in [1]:57 and a final quarter in :27 without even asking him. The day he qualified he was just no good.

“The main thing we have to do his treat him and give him the time, whether it’s two weeks or a month. We have to wait it out.

“The key is to get him healed up now because if it only gets part-way healed up, then it could come back down the road and then we’ll really be in trouble. That’s why we get him x-rayed, pulled blood —- you do everything to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to you."

Have you noticed any changes from last year to this year?

“Mentally, I don’t know if he has changed, but he’s probably not as spooky as he was last year. By the time he got to the races last year he got over that, but he still looks around a lot and finds a distraction once in awhile. He actually knocked a guy that was jogging beside him out of a cart the other day. [They] went by the water truck and he ran sideways, hit a guy and tipped him right out. Everything was fine, the other horse didn’t go far; it didn’t bother Done Well at all.

“[He’s] bigger, maybe a little bit longer, even. And I’m sure he’s heavier than he was last year. Actually when he was at the vet clinic the other day, he weighed over 1,100 pounds. If they’re around 1,000 pounds, that’s a pretty good shape. He’s a good sized horse; he’s tall, taller than Downbytheseaside was last year.”

What will his early schedule look like leading up to the Pepsi North America Cup?

“We [tried] following the same route [as we did with Fear The Dragon] —- he was on schedule training, everything was going just perfect the way it went for Fear The Dragon. He was going to have two qualifiers in Florida, he was going to have one start back up north whether it was at Miami Valley, Hoosier Park or The Meadows, wherever we decide to go, then we’d go to his first sires stakes. Now I’m going to be a little behind, not even sure about the first sires stakes.

“With that horse [and] his plan all winter, I was never worried about how he would train, because I knew he could go. It was always about how he would be the next day, making sure he’s sound and everything was good the next day, then you’d breathe a sigh of relief. Now I didn’t expect this to come up with the abscess, but it’s better than lameness so we’ll take our time, get him fixed and go again.”

What does his tentative schedule look like after the North America Cup?

“I can tell you this: he is staked almost exactly the same way Fear The Dragon was.”

At what point last year did you think this horse was North America Cup material?

“We liked him the whole time. But, when I’m training horses down, I’m just training against myself. When I qualifying at Delaware, it’s usually just my horses. I really can’t tell you for sure until I start qualifying and racing against other people to tell you where they’re at. Now I think I know, but I can tell you this: training and qualifying him, I was hoping he was the horse that I thought he was because, if he was average, that means the rest of mine were average. So he turned out to be better than I thought he was. Some of my other ones came on and did okay.

“In his first four starts, I would’ve ranked him up there with Downbytheseaside and Fear The Dragon from the first four starts of their two-year-old year.”

What's his biggest asset/strength?

“From day one, when we broke him, he looked different from the rest of them —-better gaited, bigger, stronger; just moved so much easier. I don’t know what to tell you. [He’s] just a big, strong horse, that’s a big plus. He’s got a great never really have to ask this horse. If you watch any of his races from last year, he was never really [asked]. So it’s the whole thing -— the gait, the desire, the size, the looks of him, everything he carries.”

Any three-year-old stablemates in the barn right now that are paid up and also looking promising?

“Right now, he’s definitely the head of the class. He’s the best one I have, but I have at least one other one: an Always A Virgin colt, Always Bet De Grey [who] I think is going to make a really nice horse....We gave him a little more time after racing. I’ve got another one named Whatstroublnurocky.

“I think Done Well is the better of the three, but until they get to race I can’t really tell you. Early in the year, Done Well was really, really good and Always Bet De Grey got better as the year went...So they flip-flopped; Done Well was good early, Always Bet De Grey was good late.

“I’m more optimistic [about Always Bet De Grey]. I’m not going to tell you that he’s that much better than what you’re saying, but I can tell you he beat the horse that was second in the Breeders Crown [Shnitzledosomethin]. That horse got beat a head in the Breeders Crown, we beat him a couple of weeks before that by two or three lengths.”

Any added pressure to win this race given you've already won it?

“I’m not treating it any differently [now that I’ve won], I’m waiting on the horse. We’ll get him ready on his time.”

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