By Bill Finley
The comeback of Monomoy Girl (Tapizar) will enter a new phase next week when the Eclipse Award-winning mare returns to the racetrack. Trainer Brad Cox said Monomoy Girl will be sent shortly to his stable at the Fair Grounds on or about Jan. 15.
Her appearance at the Fair Grounds will mark a major step forward for a horse that has not raced since winning the GI Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 3, 2018. The connections had planned on running her in 2019, but a couple of relatively small problems kept her out for the year. She had a mild case of colic in March, which put her on the sidelines through the summer. Cox was hoping to have her ready for a prep for the 2019 Distaff and the Distaff itself, but Monomoy Girl pulled a gluteal muscle in September, ending her year.
After the September setback, Monomoy Girl was sent to Paul Sharp Stables in Florida and has been in light training there over the last several weeks.
Cox said he hasn’t made any set plans yet for Monomoy Girl.
“She’s just been galloping, no speed works yet, while at Paul Sharps’ place,” the trainer said. “We will just see how she settles in. We really don’t have a schedule. We’ll take it a day at a time. It probably won’t take long to get her back on the breeze schedule. From there, it will be day to day, week to week. Obviously, we have no plans so far as what races she might run in. All I can say is one step at a time.”
Though he sees no reason why Monomoy Girl won’t make it back to the races this year, Cox said she will not run unless everyone involved is convinced that she is 100% back to the level that made her the champion 3-year-old filly in 2018.
“We weren’t going to take any chances with her,” Cox said. “If she’s not 100%, we won’t run her. I’m not saying she’ll have to be 100% fit, but 100% sound. It’s going to be a big hurdle considering she accomplished so much as a 2 and 3-year-old and then we had two goes at it in 2019 that fell short. All I know, when she’s right, she’s very good and we won’t lead her over unless she’s that way. If she shows up it will tell you that she means business and we mean business.
“When we brought her back in September, I felt like we were within a couple of weeks of a race. But I just wasn’t happy with what I was seeing. She had a minor physical setback last fall. If it shows up again we would probably pull the plug. But she’s happy, healthy and training very well right now. We’ll see what happens when she returns to the racetrack.”
Monomoy Girl is owned by the partnership of Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, LLC, The Elkstone Group, LLC and Bethlehem Stables LLC. In hindsight, it probably would have been a better decision to retire her after 2018 and, perhaps, sell her at a fall breeding stock sale. But Cox said no one involved with the horse has any regrets over how things have worked out.
“I think everybody is thrilled,” he said. “Everybody is looking forward and anxious to see if she can make it back. I don’t think if they had to do it over again they would have retired her. It was worth giving her a shot. Everybody is excited and optimistic that she will make it back.”
Should Monomoy Girl make it back and look like her old self, that will set up the exciting possibility of a rematch between her and Midnight Bisou (Midnight Lute). The two met four times in 2018 and Monomoy Girl finished in front of her rival each time. In the GI Cotillion S., Monomoy Girl was placed second due to interference and Midnight Bisou was awarded the victory. In 2019, with Monomoy Girl no longer in her way, Midnight Bisou had a stellar season, winning seven of eight races on her way to what seems like a certain Eclipse Award for the sport’s outstanding older mare. Did Midnight Bisou improve or was her success due to the fact that she didn’t have to face Monomoy Girl? In 2020, who will be the better horse? Those questions could be answered this year.
“Monomoy Girl is an amazing filly,” Cox said. “Watching what Midnight Bisou did last year shows you what an amazing talent our horse is. She’s an incredible animal to be around. To see what Midnight Bisou accomplished and how great she was in 2018 and 2019 tells you something about our horse. You’ve got to pinch yourself and think how blessed and fortunate we were to have her and have her take us on the run she took us on. If those two were to meet this year, it would be great for racing. It would be tremendous.”
Cox said he will have Midnight Bisou in the back of his mind when planning races for Monomoy Girl and will not face her rival until Cox knows that his horse is at her very best.
“With what that filly accomplished last year we would never think of running against her off a year-and-a-half layoff or anything like that,” Cox said. “We will have had to accomplish a good amount and have good form before we face her.”