Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables' Monomoy Girl had a lot of questions to answer at the top of the stretch in the Breeders' Cup Distaff, including some late-race antics in her most recent start. After pressing the early pace, the Kentucky Oaks-winning filly was challenged by the Churchill Downs-loving Blue Prize. Under a hand ride from jockey Florent Geroux, the 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar responded professionally to pull away toward the wire, winning by a length over the late-running Wow Cat. Off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 11, the Brad Cox trainee covered nine furlongs over the fast main track in 1.49.79.
It was Cox's first Breeders' Cup victory, and the fifth for Geroux.
“She ran the way she was training. She was training like a monster and she ran like a monster. She is a special filly, one of a kind, an unbelievable filly,” said Cox after the race.
Wonder Gadot was out very sharply for the lead, but Monomoy Girl wouldn't be left far behind despite her outside post position. Both she and her fellow Kentucky Oaks winner Abel Tasman kept close tabs on the leader through early fractions of :23.39 and :47.57, moving comfortably down the backstretch.
Monomoy Girl started to make her bid two-wide at the half-mile pole, and Mike Smith was asking for more from Abel Tasman but the 4-year-old wasn't responding. Both Blue Prize and Midnight Bisou were coming quickly, though, and Monomoy Girl inherited what appeared to be a tenuous grip on the lead at the head of the lane.
Blue Prize couldn't keep pace with Monomoy Girl down the stretch, and the late-running Wow Cat was the only serious challenge in the final eighth of a mile as she closed up the inside. Monomoy Girl held on by a length at the wire in an effort that should earn her the Eclipse Award for top 3-year-old filly. Wow Cat was second ahead of Midnight Bisou, while Blue Prize had to settle for fourth.
“It was a great trip. She was super-sharp,” said Geroux. “I was able to lay second off Wonder Gadot. I went to the lead past the three-furlong mark and from there she just kept on going all the way to the wire. This is a filly with great tactical speed and she loves to win. She's just unbelievable.”
Bred in Kentucky by FPF LLC and Highfield Ranch, Monomoy Girl was a $100,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale. She has had a spectacular 3-year-old season, giving Cox his first G1 in the Ashland, then going on to win the Kentucky Oaks, Acorn, and CCA Oaks before she was disqualified to second in the Cotillion at Parx. Overall, Monomoy Girl has won nine of her 11 starts, including five Grade 1's in 2018, and boasts earnings of over $3 million.
Abel Tasman was last.
Monomoy Girl, who was the favorite, paid $5.60 to win.
See the full chart here.
Runners Up Quotes:
Second-place trainer Chad Brown (Wow Cat) – “We lost some position early; breaking a step slowly from that post. Then there was a horse inside of us that wouldn't move over, so Jose (Ortiz, jockey) told me had had to take behind that horse and tuck in, which lost us a valuable couple lengths. From there on out, she was always traveling well; pretty far back, but always traveling well. Jose cut the corner, using good judgment, I thought, on the good part of the racetrack throughout the stretch. She just came up short. I think, at the end of the day, Monomoy Girl showed she's an outstanding filly and deserving winner. Our filly has shown that she's continuing to improve. Who knows—maybe with a better post, we would have made it a little closer at the wire. (Q: Next year she stays in training?) — Absolutely.”
Second-place jockey Jose Ortiz (Wow Cat) – “I think the post position hurt us. I had to drop down to the rail and that probably cost us two or three lengths. We only lost by one (length). She ran her race.”
Third-place jockey John Velazquez (Midnight Bisou) – “She was trying to overrun it. She's trying to get a hold of it and the racetrack comes out from under her. Even when she's running she's having a tough time getting a hold of it. As soon as we got to the first turn I knew, she was trying to get a good grip on it. She still ran a good race.”
Fourth-place trainer Ignacio Correas IV (Blue Prize) – “We were against a special filly today. We tried to beat her but she beat us fair and square. We are happy with the way our mare ran. If I had to do it over again (with her preparation), I would do exactly the same thing.”
Fourth-place jockey Joe Bravo (Blue Prize) – “She felt and warmed up better than last time. Turning for home she still had a lot of fight left in her. She wanted to go get those horses. I'm proud of her.”
Jockey Mario Gutierez (Mopotism, fifth) – “She tried real hard all the way, but she just couldn't catch the leaders.”
Jockey Drayden Van Dyke (La Force, eighth) – “She broke a step slow, She tried real hard today. She gave me everything she had, but it wasn't enough.”
Trainer Mark Casse (Wonder Gadot, ninth) – “Wonder Gadot did just what we wanted her to do. Monomoy Girl is a super star.”
Jockey Joe Talamo (Vale Dori, 10th) – “We got off to a bad break and she doesn't like that. We were back too far early and we just couldn't catch up.”
Trainer Bob Baffert (Abel Tasman, second choice, 11th) – “She just quit. She just quit running.Sometimes they do that. I thought she was in a good spot, he (Mike Smith) got aggressive with her, but she just doesn't want to run anymore it looks like.”
Jockey Mike Smith (Abel Tasman, second choice, 11th) – “I wish I knew what was wrong with her. I wish it was something I can tell you so we can fix it.”
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