LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Trainer Brad Cox grew up a few blocks from Churchill Downs and would sneak into the track as a kid. On Friday, in his Kentucky Oaks debut, Cox won the race that in his hometown ranks second only to the Derby.
Monomoy Girl, ridden by Frenchman Florent Geroux, dueled down the stretch with 16-1 shot Wonder Gadot before edging away for a half-length victory in the 144th running of the 3-year-old fillies’ million-dollar classic. Cox and Geroux had to sweat out a claim of foul by Wonder Gadot’s rider, John Velazquez, for what NBC analyst Jerry Bailey called “incidental contact” near the eighth pole.
“She really had to battle,” Cox said. “Two very good fillies hooked up at the quarter pole, and Monomoy Girl really dug in.”
Monomoy Girl paid $7.20 for her third consecutive victory, all in graded stakes, and sixth in seven starts. She ran 1 1⁄8 miles in 1:49.13 and earned $564,200 for Michael Dubb, a Long Island real estate developer, Monomoy Stables, the Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables. Midnight Bisou, the 2-1 favorite, was third, 3 3⁄4 lengths behind Wonder Gadot.
The winner overcame the outside post in a field of 14 for Cox, 38, a rising star who has won 30 percent of his starts this year. His other Oaks runners were Sassy Sienna (sixth) and Kelly’s Humor (eighth).
“We’ve been pointing for this race since November,” Geroux said. “When she’s in front, she has a tendency to slow down, but today I kept hand-riding her and she pulled away at the end.”