(Brad Cox after watching British Idiom win the G1 Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland in October / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Fair Grounds Media Team:
Billed as “Santa Super Saturday”, the December 21 card at Fair Grounds Racecourse is loaded with quality. With an early first post of noon CT, the 14-race program will include six stakes, and a more than handful of salty maiden special weight and allowance races.
Brad Cox enters Saturday with a total of 14 runners on the program. He has horses listed in four of the six stakes races, a pair of promising 2-year-olds, and a first try against winners for Mr. Monomoy; the 2-year-old half-brother to multiple Grade 1 winning Monomoy Girl.
“We have a lot of young prospects running so with the young horses it is always exciting” Cox said. “We have some other horses that we are just trying to maintain their form. It is a lot of excitement and we are very busy obviously but it’s always a thrill to go into a Saturday card like this and have good shots to win a few.”
For entries for the entire Santa Super Saturday card, click here.
Race 3: $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes (6 furlongs, 2yo fillies)
Fresh off a runaway debut win a Churchill Downs, Juddmonte Farms Inc’s Taraz has been installed as Mike Diliberto’s 2/1 morning line favorite for the Letellier. In her debut, the 2-year-old homebred daughter of Into Mischief sat just off the early pace and sprinted clear, stopping the clock in 1:16 1/5th seconds for the 6 ½ furlong distance. Florent Geroux, who rode her that day, will be back aboard on Saturday
“She’s very talented,” Cox explained. “We think she will go long. This just a step to hopefully propel her to running two turns. We are just sprinting her one more time to get her some more education and experience. We don’t feel like we need to win for it to be a successful race.”
The main threat could come from Mt. Brilliant Stable LLC and Orrin Ingr’s Ursula (3/1), who won second out of the box by more than five lengths for trainer Mike Stidham (November 30 at Fair Grounds).
Race 7: $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes (5 ½ furlongs turf, 3yo & up)
In what will be his first start for Rigney Racing and trainer Phil Bauer, Made You Look has been installed as the 3/1 morning line favorite for the Bonapaw. The winner of the With Anticipation Stakes (G2) at Saratoga as a 2-year-old while under the care of Chad Brown, he was most recently seen finishing second in a high-level optional claiming allowance over the Belmont turf on October 25. Made You Look eyes his first win of 2019 with jockey Florent Geroux aboard.
After recent allowance victories at Kentucky Downs and Keeneland, Brad Grady’s Fast Boat eyes his third consecutive score for trainer Joe Sharp. In search of his first career stakes win, Fast Boat is two for three over the Stall-Wilson turf course. Adam Beschizza has been named to ride.
Race 9: $75,000 Blushing K. D. Stakes (1 1/16th miles turf, 3yo & up, fillies and mares)
Circle B Racing’s 5-year-old mare Dream Passage aims for four straight wins for trainer Brad Cox in the Blushing K. D. Recently a runaway winner in an allowance race at Aqueduct, the daughter of Stormy Atlantic has been tabbed as the 3/1 morning line favorite with Colby Hernandez aboard.
“Very consistent,” Cox said of Dream Passage. “She had some success at Saratoga over the summer and then had some trouble in the stretch there (5th on August 30). She won twice at Belmont and obviously ran very well last time at Aqueduct. We are hoping that she’ll maintain her form. She deserves a shot and it looks like we have her in a good spot.”
Race 10: $75,000 Sugar Bowl Stakes (6 furlongs, 2yo’s)
Trainer Steve Asumussen sends out Mike McCarthy’s Gold Street who is listed as the 2/1 morning line favorite in the Sugar Bowl. A recent seven-length winner a Churchill Downs, the son of Street Boss was purchased for $150,000 at the Keenland September sale. He will be ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr. As of Wednesday, Asmussen is two stakes wins shy of 1,000 for his career.
Trainer Keith Desormeaux has already hinted at Kentucky Derby aspirations for Calumet Farm’s Shashashakemeup, who is listed at the 5/2 second choice. An impressive debut winner at Churchill Downs, the son of Shackleford will cut back from seven to six furlongs on Saturday with James Graham back aboard.
Brad Cox’s Sugar Bowl representative is Godolphin’s Into Mischief colt Amongst, who has strung together two straight victories at Indiana Grand (last time out via disqualification). He will look to add a stakes victory to his resume with Florent Geroux aboard.
“He’s a nice horse,” Cox said. “We thought he ran tough his first time out at seven furlongs. He was rushed away and he didn’t like that in the race two back at Indiana. Last time out we just kind of let him fall into the race and come running down the lane. To get there (in time) over the short stretch at Indiana says a lot. He was put up in his last race and we just didn’t have any options with him. We shipped him down to the Fair Grounds early and have been shooting for the Sugar Bowl for a while. I think he will like the long Fair Grounds stretch.”
Race 11: $75,000 Buddy Diliberto Memorial Stakes (1 1/16th miles turf, 3yo &up)
Brad Cox has three horses entered in the Diliberto, including the lukewarm 7/2 morning line favorite Dot Matrix (with Shaun Bridgmohan) for Ten Strike Racing and Secretary At War (10/1 with Ricardo Santana, Jr.) for Slam Dunk Racing but it’s Gaining Ground Racing LLC’s Factor This, the second choice in the program at 9/2, who may be the most intriguing. In September, the 4-year-old son of The Factor had a three-race win streak snapped when finishing fourth in the Kentucky Turf Cup Stakes at Kentucky Downs. In his most recent run, Factor This crossed the line second behind Stride Rite Racing Stable Inc.’s Renaissance Frolic, who is also entered in the Diliberto (5/1 with James Graham for David Fawkes), in a Churchill Downs allowance race.
“He has been very consistent this year,” said Cox of Factor This. “We had to give him a break over the winter and he gets plenty of time between his starts. He won a nice stake at Ellis this summer and then he was able to come back and perform well at Kentucky Downs. He had a decent run last time down at Churchill, so hopefully we can pull it out on Saturday. It’s a tough field.”
Race 12: $75,000 Tenacious Stakes (1 mile 70 yds, 3yo &up)
Trainer Al Stall Jr. took last year’s Tenacious Stakes with Tom’s d’Etat who rolled home to win in a final prep before making an appearance in the Pegasus World Cup (G1) at Gulfstream Park. This year trainer Al Stall Jr. sends out 7/2 morning line second choice Frank Fletcher Racing Operations Inc’s C Z Rocket, who is still in search of his first victory of 2019. C Z Rocket was last seen finishing a close second behind Pioneer Spirit, who and is listed as the 3/1 Tenacious morning line favorite off that win. He was claimed out of that race for $150,000 by trainer Robertino Diodoro.
After a year full of disappointing turf races, Sayjay Racing LLC, Greg Hall and Brook Hubbard’s Blended Citizen will remain on the main track after an impressive allowance win on the Churchill Downs dirt last month when transferred to the Brad Cox barn.
“We worked him a few times on the dirt,” Cox explained. “Five days out he was doing phenomenal at Churchill and I thought why not on the dirt. He’s a nice horse. He came out of that race in great shape and had a really nice work at Churchill following that race. We shipped him to the Fair Grounds and he had a really good work last week. He seems like he is on his ‘A’ game. The field is a little tougher than what he ran at Churchill last month, but he is one that should like the long stretch at the Fair Grounds. It looks like there is some speed and he should get a good setup.”
Brad Cox runners on the undercard:
Race 6: $45,000 Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 2yo fillies)
Lucky Seven Stable’s Curls and Bows will go out for Brad Cox as the 2-year-old filly looks to win on debut in a loaded maiden field. Curls and Bows, a $275,000 purchase at the Fasig Tipton November sale, was installed at 9/2 on the morning line and will have Florent Geroux aboard for the six furlong maiden sprint.
“We like her,” Cox said. “She’s really talented. We think she’s going to want two turns. Just by taking a look at her she is a big lengthy filly, like huge. She is put together very well. She’s quick enough out of the gate, not saying she couldn’t win on Saturday but, I think you are going to see the best of her later on in the year.”
Race 8: $45,000 Maiden Special Weight (6 furlongs, 2yo’s)
Breaking from post 12, Shake Some Action will make his anticipated debut for Rupp Racing. Purchased for $300,000 in May at the Fasig Tipton sale, Shake Some Action will have Colby Hernandez aboard.
“He’s going to have some run late,” trainer Brad Cox explained. He’s maturing slowly but surely, and has plenty of leg underneath him. He’s quick enough to run well, but should be a horse that performs better around two turns.”
Race 13: Allowance Optional Claiming $50,000 (1 mile 70yds, 2yo’s)
Off a dominating maiden breaker in his second career start Madaket Stables LLC, Michael Dubb, and Dohney Racing Stable’s Mr.Monomoy will make his first start against winners on Saturday for trainer Brad Cox.
A half brother to 2018 Kentucky Oaks (G1) and Breeders’ (G1) Cup Distaff winner Monomoy Girl, the 2-year-old son of Palace Malice virtually lost all chance at the break in his career debut at Keeneland, but he proved his talent and then some in his follow-up start, winning by 5 ½ lengths at Churchill.
“Anytime you have a two-year-old with talent, you’re hoping and dreaming that they can be a Derby horse,” Cox said. “I think this is the right spot for him to actually start that process and to see if he is that caliber. He has speed and his last start at Churchill was really impressive.
“His first start he was a little bit anxious at the start,” Cox explained. “Mike Smith let him just run down the lane and he came back and said he was a nice horse and that you’ll have some fun with him. His work a couple weeks ago at Churchill was a really nice breeze. I can’t remember the exact time, but it was a really good move and he galloped out well. Then he had a really nice easy half last weekend at the Fair Grounds (:49 2/5) and seems to be moving well going into this race.”
Florent Geroux has the return call on Saturday.
“We will just play the break and see what some of the other horses are doing, and ultimately it will be up to Florent where to place him,” said Cox. “We would maybe like to see him sit off a horse or two. If it happens it happen and if it doesn’t his sister was able to sit off horses and get the lead it didn’t matter. Great horses can do it no matter the case. We will see how things play out but we’re expecting a big performance from him.”