OCEANPORT, N.J. – After venturing North a year ago with mixed results, trainer Brett Brinkman thought he would give it another shot this summer. And while the short-term goal this weekend for the Louisiana-based Brinkman is Sunday’s featured My Frenchman Stakes at Monmouth Park, the long game is making inroads in this part of the country.
“There are a couple of reasons I decided to come North again,” said Brinkman. “One is if you’ve ever spent a summer in South Louisiana you’d understand. And two, I’m still a young guy. I want to get out and get some open horses and do some things to get to a different level.
“Everyone is looking for a bigger level. Everyone wants to perform on a bigger platform and that’s where we’re trying to get to.”
Brinkman, 53, will send out Jack the Umpire in the $75,000 Frenchman, which is scheduled for 5½ furlongs on the grass and headlines a 10-race program.
The 3-year-old son of Bodemeister-Sittin at the Bar by Into Mischief, bred by Brinkman and owner P. Dale Ladner, made an impressive racing debut a year ago by easily winning a Maiden Special Weight race at Delaware Park. He never fired when Brinkman tried the horse next in the one-mile Sapling Stakes at Monmouth, with the colt finishing last in the eight-horse field.
But continued success in Louisiana over the winner – Jack the Umpire is 4-for-7 lifetime – convinced Brinkman to head North again this summer.
“What happened in the Sapling was my fault,” said Brinkman. “I thought he wanted to stretch out a little bit. I probably should have run him short in a different spot. But we learned a few things about him that proved to helpful for us during the winter.
“It was really how to bring him up to a race and what he needs to do leading up to a race and how we need to train him for it. He didn’t run good at Monmouth Park last time he was there and we didn’t make any money but it was a beneficial learning experience for us and he was very productive in the winter because of it.”
Jack the Umpire will face eight other 3-year-olds, almost all of whom are trained by local connections. But being the “outsider” in the field doesn’t bother Brinkman, who breeds and trains horses on a farm he owns in South Louisiana.
“I left home when I was 12. I’ve been an outsider my whole life,” he said. “I do think there’s an advantage to being on your home circuit. But race horses are race horses. I know he is not going to show the gate speed that some of the locals have, but given the opportunity to run I think he will run the last three-eighths faster than most.”
Brinkman isn’t concerned about the surface conditions either, since Jack the Umpire has won his only two off-track starts by a combined 14½ lengths. Currently, Jack the Umpire is stabled at Delaware Park.
“Regardless of the track condition he’s coming,” he said.
Jack the Umpire, off since winning a state-bred stakes race at Delta Downs by 5¾ lengths on Feb. 20, has already banked $156,800 in his career. Brinkman believes the horse’s future is as a sprinter on the grass.
“We’re trying to get him back to race speed and we thought this was a good spot to try,” said Brinkman. “It’s a long way from home, but realizing what the business is I need to branch out a little in summer time and try things like this.”
First race post time on Sunday is 12:50 p.m.