Trainer Brad Cox paid tribute to the “true champion” that is Monomoy Girl as he plots a path to the Breeders’ Cup Distaff in November with the resurgent mare.
Monomoy Girl missed all of 2019 after a smart three-year-old term that yielded five top-level wins, including the Kentucky Oaks and Breeders’ Cup Distaff crowns.
A minor bout of colic was overcome but a leg injury forced her onto the sidelines and meant she couldn’t race at four.
Instead of going into retirement, connections opted to stay in training and allow Cox to negotiate the long road back to race fitness.
Victory in the La Troienne Stakes at Churchill Downs last Friday ensured Monomoy Girl now boasts 12 wins in her 14 career starts. For Cox, it was a thrill to see his patience rewarded.
“That’s the biggest thing with these horses is to be patient,” Cox said. “If they’re good, they’ll come around. You’ve just got to give them time.
“Everybody has played a big role with this filly over the last three years, even back to when she was broke. It’s been a team effort, and everybody’s been on board and done right by her. She’s rewarded us in a big way.”
Having previously won the Grade 2 Ruffian Stakes at Belmont Park in June, Monomoy Girl had plenty time to get ready for her La Troienne bid. Rider Florent Geroux saw her go by Risky Mandate with some ease in the home straight for a decisive success.
The $400,000 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland early next month is one option, while the Breeders’ Cup Distaff over the same mile-and-one-furlong course and distance a month later is the main target.
There are plenty dangers to Monomoy Girl. Bob Baffert’s Fighting Mad is an improving sort, while Midnight Bisou, She’s A Julie and Vexatious are also in the picture for November.
Victory in the $2 million Distaff would give Monomoy Girl a standout chance of ending the season Eclipse Award and Cox admits that ending the season as a champion is high on the agenda.
“She’s a true champion,” Cox said. “Hopefully we can make her a champion this year. If all goes well, I think she definitely can do it.”
“It’s something we’ll think about,” Cox added when asked if the Spinster Stakes was an interim option. “Obviously, the goal is to get her to the Breeders’ Cup, and hopefully that’ll be the race that decides champion filly or mare for 2020.”