Monomoy Girl looking to return in Oaklawn’s Feb. 15 Bayakoa

Today’s Oaklawn media notes, featuring Kentucky horsemen (Coady Photography photo of Monomoy Girl winning Breeders’ Cup Distaff under Florent Geroux):

Monomoy Girl Remains on Target to Make 2021 Debut in Bayakoa

Champion Monomoy Girl remains on track to make her 2021 debut in the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older females Feb. 15 at Oaklawn, trainer Brad Cox said.

Monomoy Girl is based at Fair Grounds, where she has recorded two workouts since completing an unbeaten 2020 campaign (4 for 4) with a 1 ¾-length victory in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 7 at Keeneland.

Spendthrift Farm, Kentucky’s famed racing/breeding operation, purchased Monomoy Girl for $9.5 million the following day at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale and opted to keep her in training with Cox in 2021, with the 1 1/16-mile Bayakoa now her first confirmed target.

“Honestly, with her breeze this past weekend, she’s probably a little ahead of schedule, as far as where I thought she would be,” Cox said. “We never took her out of training. We just backed off of her. She’s as good as ever, to be honest with you. She’s a monster.”

A 6-year-old daughter of Tapizar, Monomoy Girl has won 13 of 15 lifetime starts and bankrolled $4,426,818. She was the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2018, and after missing 2019 with injury and illness, clinched her second Eclipse Award, this time as champion older dirt female, with a second Breeders’ Cup Distaff victory in November.

Monomoy Girl returned to the work tab Dec. 27 at Fair Grounds, covering 3 furlongs in :37. She breezed a half-mile in :48.80 over a fast track Sunday morning.

“She’s really training well,” Cox said. “Looks amazing. Her weight’s great. Her breeze this weekend was spectacular. If we can continue to see that throughout the year, we’re going to have a great year again.”

The Bayakoa is Oaklawn’s second of three preps for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 17. The final stepping stone is the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 13. A seven-time Grade 1 winner, Monomoy Girl has never raced at Oaklawn or faced males. The Apple Blossom will be run the same day as the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses.

Cox said the Azeri could be a loose comeback target for Monomoy Girl’s younger stablemate, Shedaresthedevil, who is scheduled to return this month to Hot Springs to continue preparations for her 4-year-old campaign.

Shedaresthedevil, who was based last winter and spring at Oaklawn, was among the country’s top 3-year-old fillies after winning four races, including the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) in March at Oaklawn and the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) Sept. 4 at Churchill Downs.

Shedaresthedevil, in her first start against older horses, completed 2020 with a third-place finish in the $400,000 Spinster Stakes (G1) Oct. 4 at Keeneland. Shedaresthedevil then received a 60-day break, co-owner Staton Flurry of Hot Springs said, before resuming training in mid-December in Kentucky.

“Just kind of knocking the dust off of her,” said Cox, Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer last year. “She got a good break, a well-deserved break. No physical issues. Just thought she deserved some time. There was no sense going into the Breeders’ Cup. That was really the only thing left. I thought it was a wise decision by the ownership group to just give her the break. Our goal this year is to get her to the Breeders’ Cup in San Diego, at Del Mar. We’ll work our way back from that.”

Cox has divisions at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds and in New York and Florida.

Back to Work

Keepmeinmind worked a half-mile in :50.20 Wednesday morning at Oaklawn, his first breeze since winning the $200,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) for 2-year-olds Nov. 28 at Churchill Downs.

Regular rider David Cohen was aboard for the work, which came over a fast track and ranked 39th of 94 recorded at the distance. Keepmeinmind arrived Dec. 27 in Hot Springs after previously being in light training at Kentucky’s WinStar Farm following the Kentucky Jockey Club.

“Very easy half, with a nice long gallop out,” said Cohen, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2019. “Happy to get back on him. He seemed to have matured since his last race. The time at WinStar did him a ton of good.”

Trainer Robertino Diodoro said Keepmeinmind, a late-running son of Laoban, is a candidate for the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 15 at Oaklawn. The 1 1/16-mile Southwest is Oaklawn’s second of four Kentucky Derby points races.

Keepmeinmind raced four times (all routes) last year, finishing second in the $400,000 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) Oct. 3 at Keeneland and third in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 6 at Keeneland before breaking his maiden as the 2-1 favorite in the Kentucky Jockey Club. His last three starts have been at 1 1/16 miles.

Diodoro was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020.

Finish Lines

Post positions for Oaklawn’s opening day, Jan. 22, will be drawn Jan. 15. …  Wells Bayou, who won the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) last March at Fair Grounds, is scheduled to make his 4-year-old debut in the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes for older horses Jan. 23 at Oaklawn, trainer Brad Cox said. Wells Bayou (bone bruising) has not started since a fifth-place finish in the second division of the $500,000 Arkansas Derby (G1) last May at Oaklawn. Nominations to the 1-mile Fifth Season, the first local stepping stone toward the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 17, closed Thursday. Cox said Night Ops, winner of the $350,000 Essex Handicap for older horses last year at Oaklawn, is under consideration for the Fifth Season. Wells Bayou and Night Ops have both worked twice this season at Oaklawn. … Ring Leader, winner of the $125,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies last year at Oaklawn, worked a half-mile in :48.60 over a fast track Monday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Mac Robertson. Ring Leader hasn’t started since finishing seventh in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) – Oaklawn’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies – last May because “she got a little sour on me,” Robertson said. … Harper, a 4-year-old half-brother to multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Amy’s Challenge, , is on the grounds for trainer Chelsey Moysey. Harper has won two of his last three starts, including a 17 ½-length allowance score Nov. 10 at Mountaineer.




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Jennie Rees