(Trainer Brad Cox / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

From the Horseshoe Indianapolis Media Team / Tammy Knox:

Brad Cox, whose horses’ 2023 purse earnings of $15.28 million lead North America, shoots for his second victory in the Grade 3, $300,000 Indiana Derby with Verifying this Saturday at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

 

The two-time Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding trainer won the 2020 Indiana Derby with Shared Sense, was third in 2021 with Fulsome and second by a half-length with Best Actor last year. 

 

Verifying seeks his first stakes win in the 1 1/16-mile Indiana Derby after finishing second in last year’s Grade 1 Champagne, second by a neck to Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Tapit Trice in this spring’s Toyota Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland and second again by a half-length to Disarm in Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn (G3). Between the Blue Grass and Matt Winn, Verifying faded to 16th in the Kentucky Derby after setting a wilting pace. Disarm was a beneficiary of that hot pace, coming on to finish fourth.

 

“He’s doing really well,” Cox, who has maintained a large division at Horseshoe Indianapolis for a long time, said of Verifying. “I love how he came out of the Matt Winn. It will be back in 27 days, but he’s a horse we felt we needed to get a race under his belt. He’s just got the two wins. He’s run really well, just was narrowly defeated in the Matt Winn, the Blue Grass. His Derby was a throw-out with the pace, going too quick too early. But he’s a nice horse, he’s doing well physically, looks amazing.”

 

Verifying worked five-eighths of a mile Saturday at Churchill Downs in 1:00.60, third fastest of 19 workouts at the distance that morning. Marcelino Pedroza, who is second in the Horseshoe Indy standings with 34 victories heading into Monday’s card, gains the mount.

“We have a lot of luck with Marcelino,” Cox said. 

 

A son of the 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify, Verifying was purchased for $775,000 as a yearling by the international Coolmore racing and breeding conglomerate that stands Justify at its Ashford Stud in Central Kentucky. Verifying won his debut at Saratoga last summer. Off his Champagne second in his second start, he ran in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland, checking in sixth after a difficult trip. He started off his 3-year-old season with an Oaklawn Park allowance victory before taking fourth in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

 

Cox demonstrated as recently as this past Sunday that horses can rebound after getting shellacked in the Kentucky Derby. Zozos won his fourth race in five starts since he was 10th in last year’s Derby by taking Ellis Park’s $275,000 Hanshin. Cyberknife, 18th in the same Derby, won the Grade 1 Haskell and finished his career losing the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile by a mere head. Tawny Port won the Ohio Derby (G3) in his next start after his seventh in the 2022 Kentucky Derby.

 

“We ran three horses in the Kentucky Derby last year,” Cox said after Zozos’ Hanshin victory Sunday. “This horse (Zozos) has responded well. Cyberknife was a Grade 1 winner after and before the Derby and barely got defeated in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile and went off to stud. Tawny Port rebounded and won the Ohio Derby. We had four running in it this year. Maybe those can redeem themselves. And they have, with Verifying coming back and running well.

 

“There’s totally life after the Kentucky Derby. You have to watch the horse. If they need a break, they need a break. They all need breaks at some point. It’s just when they’re asking for it, you’ve got to give it to them.”

 

Cox’s 2023 purse earnings are about $1 million more than second-place Steve Asmussen. At $15,285,222 in earnings heading into Monday’s racing, he has accrued the fifth-highest season earnings in his career with half of the year to go, putting him on course to break his North American record $31,715,312 set in 2021. With a career that began in 2005, Cox already ranks No. 15 in all-time purse earnings. Of the 14 trainers ahead of him on the all-time list, 10 are in the Hall of Fame.

 

West Will Power’s victory in Saturday’s $1 million Stephen Foster at Ellis Park gave Cox his 20th Grade 1-winning horse and his 39th Grade 1 win overall, all dating to 2018 with Monomoy Girl. That two-time champion earned her first of 14 victories out of 17 career starts at Horseshoe Indianapolis in 2017. The $100,000 yearling purchase went on to earn almost $4.8 million, including winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff twice, and then sold for $9.5 million to Spendthrift Farm in 2020.

 

“Monomoy Girl was very special; she’s the one who really got this thing rolling for us,” Cox said after the Stephen Foster. “I think about her a lot. She means a tremendous amount to us, probably our all-time favorite. Today has a lot to do with her.”

 

The 21st season of live Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing extends through Friday, Nov. 17. Live racing is held Tuesday through Thursday with Saturday racing added in during the summer months. First post Tuesday and Wednesday is 2:30 p.m. Thursday racing begins at 2:10 p.m. The Summer Saturday Racing Series includes five all-Quarter Horse dates July 1, July 22, Aug. 12, Sept. 2, and Oct. 7 beginning at 10:45 a.m. Indiana’s featured event, the Grade 3 $300,000 Indiana Derby is set for 12 p.m. Saturday, July 8. For more information on live racing at Horseshoe Indianapolis, visitwww.caesars.com/horseshoe-indianapolis.