News & Barn notes

Breen, On The Mend From Neck Surgery, Looking To Extend Recent Hot Streak With Train To Artemus In Saturday’s Goldwood Stakes

June 21, 2023

Trainer Kelly Breen said he was just looking for a horse with some upside at Saratoga last Aug. 28 when he claimed Train to Artemus for $35,000 for owner M and W Stables.

What he wound up with has far exceeded his expectations.

Train to Artemus heads into Saturday’s $100,000 Goldwood Stakes at Monmouth Park having won four of her past six and with a pair of stakes victories to her credit. This year, the 5-year-old Kentucky-bred daughter of Tapizar-Pay Day Kitten by Kitten’s Joy has three wins and a second from five starts, with earnings of $171,125.

“It seems like the last few years we’ve been fortunate with claimers,” said Breen, who has won three Monmouth Park training titles. “But you never know in the claiming game. You can claim a horse for $20,000 and you might have to run it back for $10,000. Or you can claim a horse for $35,000 like this one and she becomes a multiple stakes winner.”

Overall, Train to Artemus is 8-for-15 lifetime and 5-of-8 since coming into Breen’s care.

Scheduled for 5½ furlongs on the grass, the Goldwood would appear to be an ideal fit for the turf-sprinting specialist Train to Arteumus – weather permitting.

“The question for this weekend will be if the race stays on the grass,” said Breen. “I’d like to keep her on the grass but we’ll see how the race shapes up. We have to see if there are a bunch of legitimate dirt horses if it comes off.

“We’re full steam ahead right now, turf or dirt. But if it comes up too tough on the dirt we’ll have to take a longer look at things.”

Mother Nature seems to be about the only thing that can slow Breen’s roll of late. He made his return to Monmouth Park last week following neck fusion surgery in mid-May by winning with three of five starters (and with another at Belmont on Saturday).

For the meet, he has nine winners – one behind current leader Chad Brown.

But Breen, who said his recovery is “one day at a time,” doesn’t see another training title on the horizon this meet.

“I really don’t think I have a chance,” said Breen, who is still wearing a cumbersome neck brace and is getting around with the assistance of a cane. “I feel like I have 20 horses that are ready to run. The rest are either 2 year olds, horses coming back off the shelf or horses that need to go to the farm because they’re not doing well.

“I’m not even thinking about it. I don’t have the amount of horses to be leading trainer this year.”

Breen, who notched his 1,000th career win on April 6, says he has two more weeks with the neck brace and cane after three agonizing weeks following his surgery when simple tasks – even eating – were arduous.

“It’s a slow recovery,” he said. “I’m slowly getting better every day. The first phase of rehab is three months. My next evaluation with the doctor is July 5. It’s kind of like my horses going to the farm. After 60 to 90 days you’re evaluating to see where you’re at. It was great to be back at Monmouth last weekend, seeing a lot of people and a lot of smiles.”