SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — ”Hope Springs Eternal” is the watchword of every would-be Thoroughbred buyer who has stepped into a yearling sale and waived his hand when the bid spotter looked at him.
Two years ago, a consortium composed of Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables (Sol Kumin), the Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables plunked down $100,000 to take a daughter of Tapizar from the Henny Hughes mare Drumette out of the Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
For that kind of money at that kind of sale, the four successful bidders certainly had more hope than promise. What they got was a champion-in-the-making who is now odds on to win the Eclipse Award as champion 3-year-old filly.
With Florent Geroux in the saddle for Kentucky-based trainer Brad Cox, Monomoy Girl came out of the gate first and stayed there for a mile and an eighth to win Saratoga's $300,000, Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks on July 22 for her fourth Grade 1 win of the year—with more lucrative and prestigious opportunities to come.
After winning a maiden race and an allowance on the turf, Cox abandoned the idea of running the 2-year-old Monomoy Girl on the grass. When he switched her to the main track she won Churchill's Rags to Riches for her first stakes victory.
After leading almost all the way, she suffered her only career defeat in Churchill's Golden Rod. From there on, every trip to the race track ended up in the winners' circle for Monomoy's Girl, Brad Cox and Florent Geroux.
They collected the trophies for the Grade 2 Rachel Alexandra at Fair Grounds, Keeneland's Grade 1 Ashland, Churchill's Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Belmont's Grade 1 Acorn.
In the Coaching Club American Oaks, Monomoy Girl was urged to take lead and she responded. She was on the head end around the club house turn and up the backstretch with long shot Gio Game and Julien Leparoux on Monomoy Girl's hip.
After leaving that one to finish fifth in the five-filly field, Geroux called on his charge at the head of the stretch and she drew away. By the time Monomoy Girl reached the eighth pole, the jockey had parked his whip and kept the filly to her task with a hand ride.
Midnight Bisou, the eight-length winner of Belmont's Grade 2 Mother Goose, tried to challenge the leader in the stretch under Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith. They settled for second money by three lengths. Chocolate Martini, at 43 to 1 the longest shot on the board, was third 3-1/2 lengths astern of Midnight Bisou.
Monomoy's Girl stopped the Longines timer in 1:50.46 racing on a fast track.
With Monomoy Girl's CCA Oaks win in the books, she is now eight for nine with one second place finish. With the $165,000 she earned for her Sunday stroll, she has now returned her owners $1.66 million on their $100,000 investment.
Cox, a 38-year-old who went out on his own as a trainer in 2004, was winning his fourth Grade 1 race — all with Monomoy's Girl. He looked at Saratoga's $600,000, Grade 1 Travers at a mile and quarter as a possible Number 5 prior to a possible start in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs, her home track, in early November.
He also noted he has an eye on Parx' $1 million, Grade 1 Cotillion as a possible prep for the Breeders' Cup.
He said, "The Alabama is certainly a possibility. It's probably two more races this year, one more and then the [Grade 1] Breeders' Cup [Distaff]. 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.
“The Cotillion is also under consideration. It's a big purse and a Grade 1 as well. She is here, it'd be nice to run her out of her own stall, but she's capable shipping, which she's done many times. We'll just let determine where we are. She's not regressing, she gets bigger, stronger, shinier every race," he concluded.
Haskell week is the halfway point for Thoroughbred racing at Monmouth Park every summer. After the 26th day of live racing, they add up the numbers to see how they're doing. Despite bad weather in May that caused 73% of the turf races to be moved to the main track, the result for the first half of 2018 shows across the board gains versus last year.
Live Handle of $11.5 million represents an 8% boost from last year. $94.5 million in all sources handle is an increase of 10%. Live attendance over the quarter million mark is 5% better than the same period last year.
Haskell Day, which this year is July 29, is annually the Jersey Shore track's biggest day for attendance, on-track wagering and all sources handle.
The season runs through Sunday, Sept. 9 for a total of 52 racing days. Racing then moves to Monmouth-at-the-Meadowlands for six all turf cards on Fridays and Saturdays for the remainder of the month.
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