Cox’s stable typically strong at Breeders’ Cup

Trainer Brad Cox talks with jockey Flavien Pratt, after Angel of Empire won the 2023 Arkansas Derby on April 1at Oaklawn in Hot Springs. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

Not many trainers send more horses to the track than Brad Cox, especially in racing's biggest events.

Cox enjoyed a deluxe Breeders' Cup in 2020 with four winners in two days at Keeneland. Knicks Go, the Dirt Mile winner, went on to win the 2021 Classic and was named Horse of the Year. Essential Quality, in the Juvenile, went on to championships at 2 and 3, his 2021 victories including the Belmont Stakes and the Grade III Southwest at Oaklawn in Hot Springs.

Monomoy Girl, the trainer's first Grade I winner, won the Distaff at 3 and 5, her 2020 haul including the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn. On other fronts, Shedaresthedevil, owned by Staton Flurry of Hot Springs, won the Grade I Kentucky Oaks in 2020 with Cox named champion trainer in 2020 and 2021.

Cox, a Louisville native whose hot spots include Churchill Downs in his hometown of , comes to another Breeders' Cup, this one at Santa Anita, with a full arsenal. The 40th annual Breeders' Cup will be held Friday and Saturday.

Saudi Crown could carry the day for American-based 3-year-old males in the $6 million Classic. Caravel goes west in defense of the Filly & Mare Turf Sprint crown she won last year at Keeneland.

Cox takes three shots in the $2 million Distaff, helping the nine-furlong race regain star power it lost with the defection of champion 4-year-old filly Nest.

Wet Paint can contend strongly for the 3-year-old title won by Nest owing to her Grade I Coaching Cub victory and Alabama second at Saratoga. Oaklawn fans will remember the daughter of 2010 Classic winner Blame winning the Fantasy and Honeybee, both Grade IIIs, on top of the Martha Waahington. Flavien Prat rides from post seven aboard the early 10-1 offering.

A Mo Reay won Oaklawn's Grade III Bayakoa in January, then scored a Grade I triumph in the Beholder Mile at Santa Anita. Back class and past glory over the track makes Uncle Mo's daughter one to consider at 20-1, European-based jockey Christophe Lemarie riding from post two.

Cox's main threat in the Distaff comes from late-blooming 3-year-old Idiomatic, who has paired Grade I wins in the Personal Ensign at Saratoga and the Spinster at Keeneland. Juddmonte owns the homebred daughter of mighty Curlin, whose current four-race win streak began at Churchill Downs and includes the Grade II Delaware Handicap. Florent Geroux, frequently Cox's go-to rider in such races, rides the 5-2 program favorite from post four.

Even without Nest and recently retired Grade I winner Secret Oath, the Distaff calls attention to itself. Clariere, yet another by two-time Horse of the Year Curlin, won the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn this year in a photo finish. Steve Asmussen trains the multiple Grade I winner, who gets Joel Rosario up from post nine and is 4-1, her chances improving if the pace blows up. Others to consider are Oaks winner Pretty Mischievous (8-1), Alabama winner Randomized (6-1) and Search Results (5-1) from Chad Brown's stable and Bob Baffert-trained West Coast star Adare Manor (4-1).

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