Horses

Monomoy Girl Survives Challenge to Win Kentucky Oaks

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Michael Dubb and Partners' Monomoy Girl and jockey Florent Geroux are 2-1/2 length winners of Fair Grounds Rachel Alexandra Stakes which help her earn a start in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks. Credits: Fair Grounds Photo
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After shadowing the pace setters for half the race, Monomoy Girl took the lead as the field rounded the far turn and went on to a half-length win over Wonder Godot in the $1 million, Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Before Monmomoy Girl's Number 14 flashed official, the stewards were forced to review a complaint lodged by Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez, Wonder Godot's pilot, against Monomoy Girl and jockey Florent Geroux alleging interference in the home stretch.

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The NBC television audience saw the same videos as the stewards that showed what may have been “incidental contact” as Monomoy Girl, racing inside of Wonder Godot, came out slightly when she felt one strike from Geroux's whip. That view seemed to show the riders' boots rub but no contact between the fillies.

With Monomoy Girl on the lead, Wonder Godot came from sixth place to mount her challenge. As she approached, Geroux switched his stick to his left hand and appeared to hit his filly just once.

She reacted, as she did when winning Fairgrounds' Rachel Alexandra two starts back, by shying from the stick.

After their boots rubbed, Geroux put his stick back in his right hand and Monomoy Girl continued on her way with no further contact.

While they were awaiting the steward' decision, trainer Brad Cox said his filly “Dug in.” The 36-year-old conditioner, who was winning his first Oaks in the town where he grew up and sneaked into the racetrack as a teenager, summed up his assessment of the Oaks winner saying “Talent — she's blessed with it.”

When asked by a television reporter about his emotional state as his filly was getting up to win the Oaks, he calmly replied, “I kind of kept it all in.”

At the finish, the official margins were Monomoy Girl by a half, Wonder Godot by 3-3/4 lengths over the favored Midnight Bisou ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith.

Monomoy Girl beat the 13 rivals who qualified for the Oaks getting the mile and an eighth in 1:49.13 over a fast Churchill track.

Monomoy Girl, who races for Oyster Bay, L.I. developer Michael Dubb, who is also the founder of Anna House at Belmont Park; Massachusetts developer Sol Kumin, the Elkstone Group's Stuart Grant and Micael Caruso's Bethlehem Stables, was sent postward as the $2.60 to the dollar second choice in the wagering after qualifying in second place with 154 points.

On her way to Louisville, Monomoy Girl recorded wins the Rachel Alexandra and Keeneland's Grade 1 Ashland and went in to the Oaks sporting a record of five wins and one second (Churchill's Golden Rod) from six starts.

The betting public believed the convoluted qualifying system and made Midnight Bisou the $2.30 to a dollar favorite after she qualified with 160 points. She came from California on a three-race winning streak from Santa Anita's Grade 2 Santa Ynez, Grade 3 Santa Ysabela and Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks.

Wonder Godot got in with 84 points for owner Gary Barber and trainer Mark Casse. Her best finish during the qualifiers was a win in Aqueduct's Grade 2 Demoiselle. Her 3 for 9 lifetime record of three for nine saw her pegged at almost 17 to 1 on the tote.

After the “official” sign went up, Monomoy Girl's backers in the crowd of over 113,000 learned they could collect $7.20, $4.60 and $3.60 across the board. Wonder Godot was worth $14.00 and $7.20. Midnight Bisou was $3.20 to show.

The Monomoy Girl – Wonder Godot exacta paid $96.80 for $2 while the 50-cent trifecta earned $90.60.

Monmoy Girl earned $556,550 for his owners. However, Kumin, knowing full well the value of an Oaks winner as a broodmare, told television interviewers — despite his multiple entries in Saturday's Kentucky Derby — “This one is the most important.”

Geroux, who has the ride aboard China Horse Club and Mike Repole's Noble Indy, the Louisiana winner, in Saturday's $2 million Derby, told the media “This feels great. You can't describe it. They've been pointing for this race since November. And, in the Kentucky Oaks, you only get one try,” he concluded.

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