By Bill Finley
Though the workout was not officially recorded, champion Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) had her first breeze since suffering a case of colic in the spring Saturday at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brad Cox said he did not know why the clockers did not record the workout, but he had her going three furlongs in :36 3/5, while galloping out a half-mile in :49 3/5.
The workout, Cox said, was not just to prepare her for the remainder of the 2019 campaign, but also for 2020. He said the ownership group has made a firm decision to race Monomoy Girl next year as a 5 year-old.
“She breezed really well,” he said. “She went nice and easy and was in hand. It was just what we wanted to see. She came out of it great, and that’s the main thing. We’ll breeze her again Saturday.”
Ultimately, Cox would like to have last year’s Eclipse-winning 3-year-old filly ready to defend her title in the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff, but realizes he is on a tight schedule to make the race. “Right now, it’s a week at a time and we still have a ways to go,” he said. “We haven’t set our sights on or targeted any races just yet. She’s been putting a lot into her gallops in the morning and she’s back to being her old, aggressive self. She’s moving great and everything is going in the right direction. I might be able to get her into a race in six weeks, but that’s just me throwing out a number. That would give me a chance to work her five or six times, so it probably makes sense. It will be up to how she is performing and how she is doing. She will let us know.”
Monomoy Girl was expected to make her 2019 debut in the May 3 GI La Troienne S. at Churchill Downs, but was removed from consideration for that race due to a bout with colic. Original reports were that she would be sidelined only briefly, but Cox had a harder time getting her back to her best than he originally thought.
“She has lost a good bit of weight and it took her a while to recover from it and she had some stomach issues that we addressed with medications,” the trainer said. “She’s back and looks like her normal self. That was not the case in April. It took its toll on her. I didn’t know if we’d ever get her back, but she came around and has recovered fine. We sent her to WinStar, so she’s had plenty of time to eat green grass and get some sunshine. At WinStar, she started back training by the end of June. She started back under tack and was jogging and using the aqua tread, so they got a good foundation in her.”
If Cox is able to get a race into Monomoy Girl in six weeks, that would give her another month to prepare for the Breeders’ Cup, but he said it is no certainty that he would put her through the challenge of such a tough assignment considering the setbacks she has had this year.
“My only goal right now is to get her back to a race,” he said. “That’s the only goal I have right now. I don’t know if she’d even have to win that race. What comeback race we pick out for her and how she performs will tell us whether we take the next step toward the Breeders’ Cup. That would be a big ask to have her have one race and then race against the best fillies and mares in the country and at Santa Anita, where we don’t have any experience. Who knows? We’ll see how it plays out.”
Cox said another option could be to pass on the Distaff and point for a race a little later on in the calender, perhaps over Thanksgiving weekend.
“They don’t all have to be Grade I’s,” he said. “I don’t expect to start her back in a Grade I. It just depends on when she is ready and what is out there on the calendar.”
One factor that may play in their decision-making process is that it appears it will be very difficult for Monomoy Girl to snatch an Eclipse Award away from Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute). In Monomoy Girl’s absence, her rival has gone five for five on the year with two Grade I wins. The two faced off four times last year, with Monomoy Girl finishing ahead of her rival all three times. However, Midnight Bisou was placed first in the GI Cotillion S. when the Parx stewards determined she had been fouled by Monomoy Girl.
“Those two fillies had a great rivalry last year and I hope we can meet up again this year,” Cox said. “That’s obviously down the road and we don’t know what will happen. The bottom line is it’s a feather in our filly’s cap that she competed against such a great filly last year who has gone on to have such an outstanding 4 year-old season.”
As for plans to bring Monmomoy Girl back next year, Cox said the ownership group simply likes to see their horses run.
“I just think those guys like racing,” he said. “They had Lady Eli (Divine Park) and they campaigned her as a 5 year-old and she had a setback, as well. Maybe Monomoy Girl will go on to be the next Beholder (Henny Hughes).”