“The Girl” Is “The Man” in Saratoga’s Coaching Club of American Stakes / Updated With Quotes

(Monomoy Girl, with Florent Geroux up, after winning this year’s Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs / Photo by Holly M. Smith)

“The Girl” — who goes by the alias of Monomoy Girl — has become “The Man.”

Monomoy Girl, who is just a neck away from being an undefeated 9-for-9 in what is fast becoming one of the more remarkable race careers in recent history, won her fourth Grade 1 Stakes in a row on Sunday when she cruised and crushed a field of four others in the Grade 1 Coaching Club of American Oaks at the grand Saratoga Race Course.

The racetrack — which has long become known as a “Graveyard of Champions” — proved only to be a launching pad for this Champion, as the great Monomoy Girl all but wrapped up the 3-year-old filly title with her convincing victory on Sunday.

The CCA Oaks was supposed to be a showdown between Monomoy Girl — the beast of the East — and Midnight Bisou — the Best of the West, before she was shifted to the barn of Steve Asmussen after the KY Oaks this Spring. Midnight Bisou, after all, was an easy winner of the Santa Anita Oaks and most recently won the G1 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park on June 30 by a whopping 6 lengths.

But the showdown became a showcase, instead. A showtime for Monomoy Girl.

The 3YO daughter of Tapizar — owned by Michael Dubb and the Monomoy Stables — put away the early and persistent challenge of Gio Game, and then when the running duel was supposed to come down between the “Big Two” at the top of the lane, the race came down to only one — Monomoy Girl.

In short, she simply kicked away and kicked butt, pulling away to an easy-as-pie 3-length victory over the non-challenging Midnight Bisou. Chocolate Kisses, at odds of $43-to-1, rallied along the rail to grab third.

From the NYRA website, and thanks to the Media Team at Saratoga:

“I put this race up there as high any of her other Grade 1 wins this year,” said trainer Brad Cox. “It wasn’t a big field, but it was a mile and an eighth. I think there’s a still a question mark if that’s her best distance, but she proved today that she can do. She’s got speed and puts herself in the race.

“She certainly brings it every time,” he added. “At the quarter-pole I was very confident. I told Florent to ride her with confidence but ask her to leave her. That’s the only thing I told him. We knew she’s comfortable on the lead. Around two turns I think we can do that. One turn, she can sit off a horse or two, but ultimately that depends on how much other speed is in the race.”

“I thought that I had the best horse coming into the race and I rode her like she was: take no prisoners, just take it to them right away and keep on going,” Geroux said. “Sometimes, she’ll put the brakes on by the three-eighths pole and stuff, looking around and slowing herself down. Today, she stayed a little bit longer, maybe all the way until the eighth pole and at the end, she was really waiting on company. That’s why the margin is never going to like 15 lengths, but I had a plenty in the tank.”

Cox said Monomoy Girl could have a return engagement at the Spa in the Grade 1, $600,000 Alabama at 1 1/4 miles on August 18, which could set up a start in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November at Churchill.

“The Alabama is certainly a possibility. It’s probably two more races this year: one more and then the Breeders’ Cup,” Cox said. “We’ll let her determine where we are with her in terms of races. If today’s race was a mile and a quarter, I would have been confident with her coming in going another eighth of a mile. She’s not regressing, she gets bigger, stronger, shinier every race.”

“Obviously, it’s disappointing for her to get beat, but she’s a good filly. She just got beat by a good filly,” said Midnight Bisou Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

Smith saw his bid for a third straight Coaching Club American Oaks win thwarted. He won the previous two editions with Abel Tasman last year and Songbird in 2016.

“I saw that she had company, I thought that would be good, then I realized we weren’t going very quick down the backside so I tipped out, and tried to press the pace, just get her moving,” Smith said. “I was very confident going into the far turn, I thought I had a shot at them, but then she kicked into another gear, but look, it’s not like she just got beat by some horse.”

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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