Tapwrit's Undefeated Victory Formation Victorious in Smarty Jones

Victory FormationCoady Photography

On the first page of the New Year, Brad Cox bolded his claim in the race for spots on the Kentucky Derby-points leaderboard when his undefeated colt Victory Formation cruised home the easiest of winners in the Smart Jones S. to pick up ten of them, while his stablemate Angel of Empire gave their shared conditioner the exacta.

Christened a 'TDN Rising Star' after he stylishly devastated a deep Keeneland maiden field Oct. 21 last year by over four lengths, the good-looking son of Tapwrit showed he had heart to the talent by fighting back to capture a Nov. 26 Churchill Downs allowance optional claiming contest to cap his juvenile season.

Wildly popular at the betting windows for this seasonal bow, to the tune of 3-5 favoritism, Victory Formation made the first Kentucky Derby points race a procession; breaking well enough and asked to use a bit of himself to secure his lead over Western Ghent (American Pharoah). The race was over from there as he galloped along through :23.20, :47.75, and 1:12.36 splits unchallenged with ears pricked. When Flavien Prat shook up his mount for the short run through the stretch to the wire, the colt responded by putting a comfortable three-length margin on his closing stablemate Angel of Empire and McPeek trainee Denington, who followed the latter in from the rear of the field.

With this 10 point pick up, Victory Formation now sits in a three-way tie for sixth with GII Remsen S. winner Dubyuhnell (Good Magic) and GII Los Alamitos Futurity victor Practical Move (Practical Joke) keeping him company. Angel of Empire is eleventh–though tied with six others including Denington–after claiming four points. Counting his exacta here, Brad Cox has a loaded hand thus far with six of the early top 20 in his barn.

“This horse has a great mind. He doesn't overdo it in the morning. He settles and I think the farther the better. He's got a lot of natural speed. He's able to put himself in good position and he was able to turn off and settle and finish up with good strides there,” said Cox. “The breeding suggested he would go long. You never really know [going two turns] until they do it. He has to confirm it. We have opinions, horses have the answers. He gave us the right answer today.”

In addition to his Grade I-placed half-sister Bellamore (Empire Maker), Victory Formation also claims the dam of Italian stakes winner Sienna (Ger) (Amaron {GB}) as a half-relation. Smart N Soft, herself out of an accomplished racemare in GSW & MGSP Softly (Binalong), has a newly-turned 2-year-old filly by Karakontie (Jpn) as well as a yearling filly by Practical Joke. She visited Raging Bull (Fr) for a foal this season. This is the female family of GSW, track-record setter Coragil Cat (Forest Wildcat) and GSW Conquest Big E (Tapit). GI Kentucky Oaks-placed Til Forbid (Temperence Hill) also makes an appearance beneath the fourth dam. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

SMARTY JONES S., $250,000, Oaklawn, 1-1, 3yo, 1m, 1:38.14, ft.
1–VICTORY FORMATION, 119, c, 3, by Tapwrit
           1st Dam: Smart N Soft, by Smart Strike
           2nd Dam: Softly, by Binalong
           3rd Dam: Coragil, by Metfield
($100,000 Wlg '20 KEENOV; $150,000 Ylg '21 FTKJUL; $340,000 2yo '22 EASMAY). 'TDN Rising Star'. 1ST BLACK TYPE WIN. O-Spendthrift Farm LLC and Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.; B-Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd. (KY); T-Brad Cox; J-Flavien Prat. $152,750. Lifetime Record: 3-3-0-0, $282,285. *1/2 to Bellamore (Empire Maker), GISP, $284,040.
2–Angel of Empire, 118, c, 3, Classic Empire–Armony's Angel, by To Honor and Serve. ($32,000 RNA Wlg '20 KEENOV; $70,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). 1ST BLACK TYPE. O-Albaugh Family Stables LLC; B-Forgotten Land Investment Inc & Black Diamond Equine Corp (PA); T-Brad H. Cox. $47,000.
3–Denington, 118, c, 3, Gun Runner–Stronger Than Ever, by Congrats. 1ST BLACK TYPE. O/B-Fern Circle Stables and Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek) (KY); T-Kenneth G. McPeek. $23,500.
Margins: 3, 3, HF. Odds: 0.60, 18.10, 6.80.
Also Ran: Western Ghent, How Did He Do That, Ten Days Later, Communication Memo, C. J's Storm.

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