(Fulsome / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Here are a few “Quick Hitters” on the “Wacky World of Thoroughbred Racing:”

(Brad Cox / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Brad Cox’s Colts Now Match His Fillies:

It was not that long ago that the young, youthful and upcoming trainer, Brad Cox, had a fleet of fine fillies in his care.

There was “The Champ” Monomoy Girl, to top the list to be sure.

There was the talented and speedy Covfefe.

There was the undefeated 2YO Champ and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner British Idiom.

There was Kentucky Oaks winner Shedaresthedevil, and the ever-popular Bonny South.

In fact, there were so many talented gals in the barn that some speculated that Cox would never be able to match that run with any group of run-filled colts, and that he may forever be deemed a “Super Trainer to the Filly Superstars.”

He was a “fillies” man. A “fillies” trainer. A “fillies” guy.

So much for that speculation.

So much for that thought.

This year, Brad Cox may have the best stable of 3-year-old colts ever shuttered under one barn roof. Or, at the very least, the best group of 3YO colts to be assembled in one barn in recent memory.

Consider:

He has the 2YO Champ and reigning Belmont Stakes winner Essential Quality ready to head towards Saratoga on Monday, where the colt will gear up for this year’s G1 Travers Stakes. In all of his starts to date, Essential Quality has been beaten just once — in this year’s Kentucky Derby. And, that was partially due to a horrible trip and a soon-to-be disqualified horse. Still, unquestionably, the best of his generation.

Cox also has Mandaloun, who figures to be elevated to the 2021 Kentucky Derby winner’s position when the disqualification of Medina Spirit is made official. Since his stylish runner-up finish in the Derby, Mandaloun has since gone on to Monmouth Park where he won the Pegasus Stakes, without any help from his crop-less rider. He will now depart for on Monday to begin final preparations for the G1 Haskell Invitational Stakes.

And, on Thursday, Cox’s 3YO colt Fulsome was entered for the G3 Indiana Derby, to be held at the wonderful Indiana Grand Racing & Casino facility in Shelbyville, IN. on Wednesday, Jan. 7. All this son of the great Into Mischief has done since being switched from the turf to the main track is win three in a row, including an impressive , fast-closing victory over O Besos in the G3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs on May 29.

If you have not caught our interview with the affable Cox this week, do yourself a favor and go listen. But there’s little doubt in his words or his conviction. Cox is very happy with the progress of his newest barn star.

“Ever since we moved him to the dirt, he has been a different horse,” Cox told me this week. “It was like he was just waiting to explode. And, he just seems to be getting better and better every time we take him out there.

“He is a horse that likes to settle off the pace and make a real good late run. But I don’t see any reason why he isn’t ready for another good performance. All signs point to the fact that he’s doing really well. He has to go out there and do it, obviously, but this guy is getting really good.”

So is this guy, Brad Cox.

He has already gotten.

Really good.

Bowling Green Rejects KY Downs’ Plans to Build HHR Facility in Warren County:

Without a single doubt and without any question, Kentucky Downs is a true American success story. The little racetrack that was poured out over the hills and dales of Simpson County has emerged as one of the country’s best county-fair like race meets in the entire North America.

Fans flock to the racetrack each and every September to throw out their blankets and picnic baskets to watch — and, yes, wager — on live Thoroughbred races conducted over the grass course.

With the addition of Historical Horse Racing that was added several years ago, and most recently validated and authorized by the Kentucky General Assembly in the3 2021 session, Kentucky Downs has become a true destination location.

People flock there from neighboring Tennessee, and, yes, Bowling Green, too, to play and enjoy.

And, the purses for the live meet in September? Well, they are now some of the best in the entire free world.

Some of the best grass horses in the entire world are shipped to Franklin to run. Some of the best trainers and riders roll into little Franklin to work and race. Some of the best turf races in the world are conducted now over a hill that used to either lay barren or sprout a few corn stalks.

A true success story.

But I guess that story has yet to make it to Bowling Green — a town where local politics and politicians apparently would rather stymie growth than embrace it. A place seemingly hellbent on protecting the myth of hell, fire and damnation theories rather than embrace of one Kentucky’s own signature industries.

In May, the Warren County-Bowling Green Planning Commission rejected a proposal — by a vote of 7-3 — that would have allowed and permitted Kentucky Downs to expand and build a HHR facility in the area. In June, the City supported that decision.

The Mayor, a cat by the name of Todd Alcott, made these statements to a reporter for WBKO, a local ABC TV affiliate:

“What they (the Planning Commission) did is essentially they voted 7-3 that this is not right for our community. They don’t see a substantial amount of money coming back to our community, they don’t see this is as, you know, a venue that is really going to really help stimulate the economy and give us that hometown feels that we know and love as we grow as a community.”

Wow. I don’t know what kind of “hometown feels” that Mayor Alcott is looking for, since there are “adult entertainment clubs” allowed in the city, already, but read on:

“So, if you and I were to run para-mutual betting we would be in jail. They (the General Assembly, I’m assuming) basically doubled down, they gave them the authority and legalized para-mutual betting and in addition to that they also said that existed facilities could have a satellite facility which incidentally Bowling Green in right in their target.”

Well, Mr. Alcott, it is pari-mutuel wagering. Not para-mutual. And, since the beginning of it in our Commonwealth? The only entities allowed to conduct it have been the licensed racetracks. Not you. Not me.

But more from the Mayor, who obviously does not teach at Western Kentucky University, and I would guess didn’t graduate from there either:

“They (the General Assembly) got to decide, how are we going to help out the historical horse racing society or community and it was with para-mutual betting which if you go back, the Kentucky Supreme Court deemed that it was illegal,” Alcott said.

In the report, Alcott said:

He was concerned about the effects of this kind of facility would have on the community and supports the commission’s vote.

What effects would that be, just out of curiosity? What effects have been wrought on Franklin and Simpson County that little, ole Bowling Green wants to avoid?

More traffic to support the gas stations?

More people to stop and eat at the restaurants?

More people to visit the country stores and look at antiques?

More people to play golf at Kenny Perry’s 18-holer?

And, I thought Bowling Green was a bastion of enlightenment. Apparently not. Instead, I now realize, it is stuck in muck.

Para-mutual. LOL.

Maybe the City of Oakland, KY. will consider. Maybe KY Downs can go there. Let’s hope they do that and bookend Bowling Green and Mr. Alcott in their self-imposed righteousness.

 

(Francisco Arrieta / Coady Photography & Courtesy of Oaklawn Park)

Francisco Arrieta: 

To be honest, prior to 2021, I couldn’t have told you who this guy was or what he did for a living. His name just didn’t ring a bell, and I watch about as much live horse racing as anybody going.

But, to be honest, we all better get used to this guy’s name now. He is ringing the bell. Loud. Clearly. That’s because his game is pretty darn good. And, his stock is on the rise. Just the way he rides, too. Fast.

On Thursday, Arrieta — who is now riding first chair for the Team Asmussen barn in Kentucky while Ricardo Santana preps for the upcoming meet at Saratoga — won his first couple of races at Ellis Park. And, he did it with a rousing finish in both.

He won the 5th in a fast-closing dead heat with Asmussen’s Reinecke. He came right back and closed to win by nose hair in the 6th with Costa Terra, a son of Gun Runner, for Asmussen, again.

At the conclusion of the most recent Churchill Downs’ meet, Arrieta was 25th in the riding standings. He had a record of 7 wins, 8 seconds and 20 thirds in 87 mounts, as he attempted to establish both his name and stamp his talent in the books of the top trainers. His horses earned about $425,000 in purses.

Not bad, but a little set-back after a terrific meet at Oaklawn Park this past Winter/Spring. During the Hot Springs meet, Arrieta was third in the standings with 50 wins, 50 seconds and 53 thirds in 305 mounts. His win percentage was .16%, which was twice the number he had at Churchill Downs. And, his horses finished in the money — first, second or third — on 50% of the time.

And, certainly, not bad for a man who had just four rides in the United States and just one second in 2012. Not bad for a man who had just one win in 66 rides in 2015; zero wins in 2016; and just two more wins in 2017. After the first 214 mounts in this country? He had a total of 3 wins. Count them. One one hand. Three.

Yet?

The best could come at Ellis Park this summer. Suddenly, Arrieta figures to be getting some live mounts from some of Kentucky’s best trainers, who have left some talented runners here for the next few months.

If Thursday is any indication, he will get a lot more rides. He has caught the eye. He has captured the attention. He has caught the wave.

Name recognition?

Check.

Game-time ability, too?

Check.

More checks to come.