Fresh off his win in the GI Haskell S. with Cyberknife (Gun Runner), trainer Brad Cox joined the TDN Writers' Room presented by Keeneland Wednesday as the Green Group Guest of the Week. There was plenty to talk about as Cox's stable remains one of the hottest in the sport and he will send out GIII Ohio Derby winner Tawny Port (Pioneerof the Nile) in Saturday's GII Jim Dandy S. at Saratoga and 2021 GI Kentucky Derby winner Mandaloun (Into Mischief) in Saturday's GII San Diego H. at Del Mar.
Cox was understandably proud of the win by Cyberknife in the Haskell, who is the only 3-year-old dirt male in the country to have won two Grade I races this year. It was the trainer's second straight victory in the signature race of the Monmouth Park meet, but his first in which his horse crossed the wire first. In 2021, Mandaloun was placed first via disqualification after Hot Rod Charlie (Oxbow) was taken down because of interference.
“It was a big performance for Mandaloun last year,” Cox said. “He was battling back and we were very proud of his effort. But, in the moment, it's it feels a little better to cross the wire first as opposed to having to wait for the stewards' decision, to say the least.”
Cyberknife will go next in the GI Runhappy Travers S., where he could be joined by Tawny Port. But first, Tawny Port, will have to tackle a tough assignment in the Jim Dandy.
“He's a good colt and I know he's improving physically,” Cox said of Tawny Port. “He looks amazing. His color's good. Like I said, he's moving great. I think he likes Saratoga. I'm hoping that there's some sort of pace presence. Oftentimes, we don't get that in a short field. But I'm hoping that there's some pace and those horses can work on each other early. He's the type of horse who will definitely like the mile and an eighth and should like the Saratoga surface.”
Mandaloun, coming off a fourth-place finish in the GII Stephen Foster S., has headed west to join a field in the San Diego that is topped by GI Dubai World Cup winner Country Grammer.
“Hopefully, this race can jump start what will be a great second half for him,” Cox said.
Cox is coming off a sensational 2021 in which his stable earned $31,715,312, won 30 graded stakes races and campaigned the Horse of the Year in Knicks Go (Paytner) and the 3-year-old male champion in Essential Quality (Tapit). But, by no means, was Cox ever prepared to rest on his laurels.
“Our horses performed extremely well last year,” he said. “So that was something that we're hoping we can build off of and continue to move forward. You just want to be relevant and be competitive at the graded stakes level. Hopefully, some of these horses are developing and we can be a factor in the Breeders' Cup. You just try to increase your numbers every year. I'm not certain we can eclipse the earnings mark that we had last year, but we're working every day in order to try to achieve that.”
Elsewhere on the show, which is also sponsored by Coolmore, XBTV, West Point Thoroughbreds, The Pennsylvania Horse Breeders Association and Legacy Bloodstock, the writers took a look at the latest developments concerning the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority, which lost a round in court this week, the future of TVG now that it is reportedly about to be renamed FanDuel TV and the robust business thus far at the Del Mar meet.