Brad Cox spends significant portions of every day on the phone, watching races on television or his iPad or meeting with a deep group of established or potential clients, the nature of the beast for a trainer with scores of horses spread out in multiple divisions.
Cox brought a small group to Saratoga from his main overall draft and finds himself going back to the basics that helped him rise toward the top of the North American trainer standings. Last week after training, Cox ducked under the webbing in Monomoy Girl’s stall and spent some time brushing the four-time Grade 1 winner, who won the Coaching Club American Oaks the first Sunday of the meet.
“It’s nice to get the chance to do that up here,” said Cox, while chatting with the filly’s jockey Florent Geroux.
Cox brought Monomoy Girl, Grade 1 winner Long On Value and an eclectic group of horses – from unraced 2-year-olds to allowance runners to claimers – to his Horse Haven barn on the Oklahoma Training Track. The trainer won three races from his first 13 starters, one more than last year and the same number of wins as 2016.
“It’s a diverse group of horses,” said Cox, who ran seven horses on the West Virginia Derby Day card at Mountaineer, one at Indiana Grand and one at Saratoga Saturday. “The year is going well so far, hopefully better after this weekend, we have a lot going on.
“We’ve got three so far here. If we end the meet with three wins it will be a little disappointing but hopefully we can bang out a few more before the end of the meet, hopefully we can get to six or seven.”
Cox spent a few minutes Saturday morning to discuss the Saratoga contingent with The Special’s Tom Law. (Editor’s note: Originally published in the August 5 issue of The Saratoga Special)
Monomoy Girl: The big horse and the leader of the 3-year-old filly division, she occupies a stall next to the office and as the tour starts she’s surrounded by peppermint-wielding children who pulled up in co-owner Sol Kumin’s golf cart. Daughter of Tapizar is unbeaten in five starts this year, including the Kentucky Oaks and Coaching Club American Oaks here Opening Weekend. “She definitely attracts a lot of attention. Sunday it will be two weeks since her race here, she’s been training really well. She may breeze here next weekend, we’re looking at six works before the Cotillion. She’ll eventually go back to Churchill and do the bulk of her work there. That’s exactly how she did it before the Acorn and the Coaching Club. She’s bounced out of the race as well as any this year. Cotillion and then hopefully on to the Breeders’ Cup.”
No Alabama or Travers? “No. We put a plan together and it’s worked to this point and there’s no sense veering off and going anywhere else.”
Long On Value: Battle-tested 7-year-old warrior of the barn won the Grade 1 Highlander at Woodbine June 30, his second straight win since joining Cox in the spring. He didn’t enter today’s Grade 3 Troy as expected before the meet. “He breezed here last weekend and came out of the work with a foot issue. The timing was no good. Moving forward, we’ll see how much time he misses. It will take a little more time to let the foot grow out. Kind of looked at the Woodbine Mile with him. That’s a bit of a question mark. If not there, maybe the Nearctic. That’s in October, and the reason behind it would be a little bit of time. Like I said, just a minor setback and hopefully we can get him going soon.”
Let’s Get Loud: John Gunther homebred 4-year-old son of More Than Ready won two of five last year and ended with runner-up finish in a stakes at Belmont in October. Transferred to Cox for 2018, breezed a half in :51.21 on the Oklahoma turf Friday. “He’s a horse Chad Brown had last year. He was third in the English Channel and he’s eligible for the second-level allowance. He’ll be ready to run here.”
Out Of Trouble: Zilla Racing Stables’ 4-year-old New York-bred by Into Mischief provided one of the barn’s wins, an allowance-optional July 27. “There’s not a whole lot in this second book for her, she’s obviously eligible for the first-level allowance against open horses. We’ll look at something like that, turf or dirt, third book and hopefully she can step up. She showed she can run in the mud the other day, I don’t know about fast dirt. It was big she was able to perform like that in the mud.”
Always On My Mind: Gunther homebred 5-year-old Congrats mare, fourth in 2016 Remingon Park Oaks, finished fifth in Parx optional June 17. “She’s a three-other than, made her last start at Parx and it wasn’t very good. Looking for a three-other-than or a small stakes. She might be the type that we have to ship out of town to find a race. She’s actually a half to ($1.8 million earner and sire) Tamarkuz and Without Parole, a good horse in Europe. She’s got a huge pedigree so we’d like to squeak out some black type before the breeding season.”
Adonis Creed: Zilla’s 4-year-old Brilliant Speed gelding finished third in last year’s Grade 3 Kent Stakes and ran seventh in an 11-furlong turf optional July 30. “He didn’t run very well at a mile and three-eighths, but hopefully we’ll get another race for him before the end of the meet.”
Celtic Chaos: Third to Weekend Hideaway and Eye Luv Lulu in title defense of John Morrissey in his first start for Cox July 26. Five-year-old New York-bred by Dublin has racked up $440,847 for Zilla Racing. “That was a good race off the layoff. We’ll see what happens in Book 3, and we’ll give him a little time to recover from (the Morrissey). We’ll have to wait to find something. With a horse like that, it’s not an easy chore. If he could have gotten out, or had a little cleaner trip up the rail he maybe could have caught him, I don’t know.”
Trance: Zilla Racing paid $60,000 for Dialed In colt at last year’s Fasig-Tipton New York-bred sale. Third in debut July 12 at Belmont, he’s entered in Monday’s sixth race. “He’s doing well, expect him to move forward and I added blinkers. It’s a competitive race and if he moves forward he’ll be competitive.”
Cool Beans: Magic Cap Stables’ Candy Ride 3-year-old filly appeared in last year’s Stable Tour. She won her debut late in the meet and comes off a second in the Hatoof Stakes at Arlington Park in early July. “She finished second here last year and was put up via DQ against a good gray filly of Chad Brown’s (Significant Form). She’s eligible for the first-level allowance and there is a really good race for her in the middle of this month. She breezed on the turf extremely well yesterday, I’m excited about her.”
Seven Jewels: Matthew Jeffrey’s and Hebert Bloodstock’s 2-year-old New York-bred daughter of Big Brown finished third in state-bred maiden at Belmont July 5. “She was third after a sluggish and terrible start on the dirt. We’re going to try her long on the grass against New York-breds.”
Irish Princess: A $180,000 buy at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Midlantic May 2-year-old sale, daughter of Bernardini finished eighth in debut here going 6 furlongs Aug. 1. “We debuted her short, she didn’t get away very well, finished eighth. I’m hopefully bring her back going long.”
Lion In Wait: Circle B Racing’s 4-year-old daughter of American Lion won two in 11 days this spring at Belmont and finished fifth in Opening Weekend allowance. “She could make a start here again. She’d be in another first-level allowance.”
Purely Lucky: Michael and Jules Iavarone’s 3-year-old Lookin At Lucky filly won state-bred allowance June 24 and finished third in open allowance July 12, both at Belmont. “That was a third in a mile and a quarter, open, on the turf last time. She’s eligible for the second-level allowance New York-breds, there isn’t one in this book, but hopefully something in the next book on the grass.”
Unnamed out of Savannah Harbor: Zilla Racing paid $165,000 for 2-year-old son of Shakin It Up, a Fasig-Tipton Midlantic graduate as a yearling. “He just came in, we like him but he probably won’t make the meet.”
Steam Engine: New York-bred 2-year-old by Mineshaft breezed five times in Kentucky before a half in :49.99 on the Oklahoma dirt track July 28. “He’s getting close, hopefully can make a start by the end of the month.”
Kelly’s Humor: Eighth in the Kentucky Oaks and third in the Grade 3 Indiana Oaks, Ike and Dawn Thrash’s Midnight Lute filly finished third in Saturday’s Grade 1 Test. “Hopefully she’s on the cover. Well, whoever wins the Whitney will probably be on the cover (Sunday). Maybe a good write-up on her tomorrow.” Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Tweedia: Reminded that Stable Tour hosts often fare well that day or shortly after, Cox brought up a 2-year-old filly by Double Irish who belongs to owner/breeder John Ed Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable. “That’s funny, she’s a horse that runs (today). She’s an Arkansas-bred, by a stallion you’ve never heard of. Double Irish is by Tapit, unraced. John Ed bought him for like $150,000, and I don’t even know who had the horse. They bred a few mares to him, he’s had a couple runners (including $113,000 earner Dutch Treat). This filly is very fast, athletic. She’s been training really forward at Keeneland and Churchill so we thought we’d bring her up here, throw her in the deep end and see if she can swim. We’ll see.”
Radio Silence: A new arrival, 4-year-old son of War Front started his career in Ireland, placed in the Group 2 Galileo E.B.F. Futurity at The Curragh in 2016 and raced in Southern California in 2017 and 2018 with Richard Baltas. “He just came in from California, literally a week ago off the plane. He’ll hopefully make a race here.”