Fair Grounds barn notes: Monomoy Girl back at track with Cox

Thursday’s Fair Grounds barn notes by Ryan Martin, with Kentucky horses dominating the news

MONOMOY GIRL SETTLING IN WELL FOLLOWING BRIEF FRESHENING

When Monomoy Girl left Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots last March, the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes was her lone graded stakes triumph. Upon returning to the Brad Cox barn on Monday evening, she brought not only five Grade I victories with her, but an Eclipse Award to top it all off.

Monomoy Girl winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Churchill Downs. Coady Photography

The newly crowned Champion Three-Year-Old Filly enjoyed a stellar 2018 campaign which included wins in the Grade I Longines Kentucky Oaks and most recently the Grade I Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff, both of which were run at Churchill Downs.

Cox said that the Grade I $700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 14 remains a possible target for the now 4-year-old daughter of Tapizar.

“She looks great,” Cox said. “She was under the care of Paul Sharp and he did a fantastic job with her. The weight is great, she’s moving well. We’ve trained her here for three mornings and she’s doing great. We’ll just gradually increase her workload and hopefully have her ready to breeze in maybe two or three weeks. We’ll let her tell us what’s best.”

Monomoy Girl was purchased at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 by BSW Bloodstock partner Liz Crow. In 11 career starts, she has never finished worse than second and has banked $2,954,750 – quite the return on investment from the $100,000 that she was acquired for

Paul Sharp got his first experience with Monomoy Girl following the sale, where was acquired for $100,000 and proved to be quite the return on investment having banked $2,954,750 so far.

Following the Breeders’ Cup the now 4-year-old daughter of Tapizar was temporarily boarded at WinStar Farm but spent the majority of her downtime near Ocala, Fla. while under the care of consigner and pinhooker Paul Sharp.

“She definitely enjoyed her down time,” Sharp said. “She came in in good shape to begin with and she matured quite a bit physically. I think at the end of the day she was ready to get back to business, but she was a really nice horse to have here. We broke her and helped in the process of getting her from the sale to the racetrack. It was pretty uneventful when she was here and that was a good thing.”

Having familiarized himself Monomoy Girl before her racing career, Sharp noticed some physical development when she returned to him toward the end of last year.

“I saw that she put on some muscle,” Sharp said. “At this time of year going from three to four, the maturity is what I saw. Her personality is definitely the same, but mostly it was just physical maturity.”

Owned by Monomoy Stables in partnership with Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl was bred in Kentucky by FPF LLC & Highfield Ranch and is out of the Henny Hughes broodmare Drumette.

‘WONDER HORSE’ SPECTACULAR GEM SEEKS STAKES WIN IN LLOYD ‘CAPTAIN’ MAESTRI

Following four consecutive starts in which he finished no better than a distant third on dirt, trainer Jimmy Baker decided to alter course with Spectacular Gem, switching surfaces to turf and adding blinkers.

Sometimes, change is good.

Spectacular Gem responded with an authoritative, sixth-length allowance win while under a hand ride, and now he’ll step up to tackle Saturday’s $60,000 Lloyd “Captain” Memorial Overnight Stakes with a new sense of purpose.

“I call him my wonder horse because I wonder what the difference was: the blinkers or the turf,” Baker said. “We did two changes with him last time so I don’t k now which one worked the best. Obviously both of them worked, but I don’t know which one worked better.”

Spectacular Gem scored an 18-1 upset in his last out flashy victory. He broke his maiden first time out for a $30,000 tag over the main track at Ellis Park and since then had run behind some nice horses, including the likes of well-bred two-time winner Preamble, stakes-placed Boldor, as well as highly regarded allowance winner Tackett, Super Steed and Owendale.

“I thought he would run well,” Baker said. “It was his sixth start and he’s never put in a poor effort. When you switch surfaces like that, you don’t know how they’re going to handle it. Especially that day when the turf was soft. I was talking with Tom Morley and he was fourth in the race and he likes his horse a lot. He was pretty high on his horse, but it could have been the soft going that his horses didn’t prefer.”

Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr., the pilot of Spectacular Gem’s last two starts, will return to the saddle for Saturday’s event where he drew post seven at 6-1 morning line odds.

Bred in Kentucky by Ledgelands LLC and Andrew Ritter, Spectacular Gem was purchased for $20,000 from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017 from Ledgelands’ consignment operation. He is out of the unraced Malabar Gold broodmare Blackhawk Honey. He is from the same family as graded stakes placed Radiata, stakes placed Something Sonic and black type winner Something.

ASMUSSEN SENDS STRONG PAIR OF CAREER DEBUTERS IN SATURDAY MAIDEN EVENT

Never short of young talent this time around, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen will be represented by two very well-bred sophomores making their career debut in a two-turn main track maiden special weight event on Saturday afternoon with Rubin Hurricane and Copper King.

Owned by Phoenix Thoroughbreds and Eric Fein, Rubin Hurricane was a $1 million purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2017 from Dromoland Farm’s consignment barn. He was purchased by Fein in partnership with Kerri Radcliffe Bloodstock. Named after the late American-Canadian boxer, the son of third crop sire Orb is out of the stakes placed Dixieland Band broodmare Tally Ho Dixie whose dam Tally Ho Annie is a half-sister to multiple Grade I winners Starrer and Stellar Jayne. He also comes from the same family as Grade I turf winner Star Billing.

Rubin Hurricane breaks from the rail under jockey Shaun Bridgmohan as the 5-2 morning line favorite.

Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing’s Copper King is the 3-1 morning line second choice and like his stable mate, also boasts a prestigious pedigree. The son of Medaglia d’Oro is a half-brother to 2009 Grade I Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird as well as three-time Grade I winner Dullahan. He was a $625,000 purchase from the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2016 where he was consigned by Denali Stud. Copper King was bred in Kentucky by Phil & Judy Needham, Bena Halecky & WinStar Farm.

Copper King will be ridden by Florent Geroux and will break from post six.

The event is the sixth race on Saturday’s program and has a scheduled post time of 2:53 p.m. CT.

COLBY HERNANDEZ ONE WIN CLOSER TO MILESTONE

Jockey Colby Hernandez is only one more trip to the winner’s circle away from reaching career victory number 2,000 after guiding Girls Life to victory in the Thursday opener.

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Jennie Rees

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