He just won the GII Risen Star S., has a strong pair entered in Saturday's GII Rebel S. and accounts for 10 horses being offered in the latest round of the Derby Future Wager. When it comes to 3-year-old talent, Brad Cox's lineup has tremendous quality and tremendous quantity. In the spotlight virtually every Saturday that includes a prep race for the GI Kentucky Derby, Cox found the time to join the team for this week's Thoroughbred Daily News Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland to discuss his Derby prospects. Cox was this week's Green Group Guest of the Week.
So far as the Rebel, in which he will start Verifying (Justify) and Giant Mischief (Into Mischief), Cox is optimistic he can pick up another major win on the road to the Derby.
“I think that Verifying is a very good horse,” he said. “The last time out at Oaklawn, he showed the ability to set close to the pace. I think the fractions [in the Rebel] will be similar, maybe even quicker. I don't expect to necessarily be on the lead but somewhat forwardly placed in a good stalking position. If he runs as well as he's training, I think he's going to be right there. He's a good colt. Giant Mischief is also a very good colt. I thought he ran a winning race at Remington [in the Springboard Mile], but, obviously, just didn't get away well. He made a big middle move and then kind of flattened out. This was by design to give him a little time after that race. He had three good runs at two, three positive races. And I thought he showed in his Remington race that he could stretch out. We're looking forward to getting him started at three.”
Like most trainers with top horses and clients, winning the Derby has become a focal point for Cox, who said he's living a dream with this many good horses.
“This has been my dream for a long, long time, to get into this position, acquire good colts from top outfits, top breeders, top owners throughout the country,” he said. “These horses, you need to have a lot of them to be on this stage. That we have so many at this point just proves that we've got a really, really good program. It's a team effort and it's years and years of training young horses and being able to stop on them when they need to be stopped on and then having them ready to go in the fall of their two-year-old year or to begin their three-year-old season to try to make that push for the Kentucky Derby because it is very, very demanding.”
Officially, Cox has won the Kentucky Derby. The Cox-trained Mandaloun (Into Mischief) was awarded the win in 2021 after Medina Spirit (Protonico) was disqualified due to a medication overage. But Cox said he doesn't really feel like he's won the race and wants to win it by sending out the best horse.
“It hasn't felt like winning the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “If you're awarded the race how do you explain that to people? I have to say, 'Oh, yeah, I've won it, but my horse didn't cross the wire first.' If I met a stranger and they didn't know much about horse racing, I'd have to explain how I won the Derby. I definitely don't feel that we've won the Kentucky Derby. We know the Kentucky Derby is not the richest race run in America, but I think it is without a doubt the most prestigious. All the eyes are on racing that day with the telecast, the crowd and everything. And it's the thrill of victory, bottom line. I haven't experienced that thrill and I look forward to it someday.”
Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association, XBTV, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders and West Point Thoroughbreds, Randy Moss, Zoe Cadman and Bill Finley reviewed last week's races at the Fair Grounds, including the Risen Star and the disappointing effort by Hoosier Philly (Into Mischief) in the GII Rachel Alexandra S. Steve Asmussen's 10,000th win was also discussed with Finley predicting that Asmussen is setting records that will never be broken. To preview the G1 Saudi Cup, Cadman caught up with jockeys Mike Smith and Frankie Dettori in a new segment on the podcast, 1/ST things 1/ST at Santa Anita.