She gave trainer Brad Cox the first Grade 1 win of his career in the Ashland last month, and doubled up on the first Friday in May to give him a first Classic victory in the Longines Kentucky Oaks. Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables' Monomoy Girl had to dig down deep in the stretch when she was headed by Wonder Gadot, but the 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar found a little something more 100 yards from home. At the wire, Monomoy Girl and jockey Florent Geroux were a half-length ahead of Wonder Gadot. Monomoy Girl, sent off as the 5-2 favorite, completed 1 1/8 miles over Churchill Downs' fast main track in 1:49.13.
“This is an unbelievable feeling,” Geroux said. “The filly was sharp early and I just hustled her out of the gate to get a good position. From there I was pretty confident, but when I hit the quarter pole, her ears were flopping back and forth and she tried putting the brakes on me until she saw Wonder Gadot. When the other filly got head to head, I gave her a few slaps to keep her interested, but she can be quirky. You can get after her too much and she stops. I kept hand riding her and she pulled away at the end.”
John Velazquez, rider of Wonder Gadot, filed a jockey's objection against Monomoy Girl and Geroux, but the stewards ruled there would be no change.
Take Charge Paula jumped the best from the starting gate, taking the lead heading into the clubhouse turn. Sassy Sienna joined her at the rail, while Monomoy Girl was pushed three-wide around the first bend. Both Rayya and Midnight Bisou were bumped at the start, and were shuffled back through the first turn.
Take Charge Paula and Jose Ortiz moved away to a one-length lead entering the backstretch, speeding through a first quarter in :23.48. Monomoy Girl and stablemate Sassy Sienna moved in unison behind the leader, and were tracked by the trio of Coach Rocks, Classy Act and Wonder Gadot through a half-mile in :47.70.
Nearing the half-mile pole, Sassy Sienna moved up the rail to put more pressure on Take Charge Paula, but Monomoy Girl made a big move to take the lead. Wonder Gadot was three-wide around the far turn, and Midnight Bisou was forced seven-wide as the field turned for home.
Though she had a one-length advantage at the top of the stretch, Monomoy Girl was quickly joined by Wonder Gadot for a neck-and-neck battle down to the wire. The two traded the lead with every stride down the lane, but a final effort from Monomoy Girl saw her hit the wire a half-length in front of Wonder Gadot. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to Midnight Bisou in third, and Eskimo Kisses finished fourth.
“It was unbelievable. It worked out just the way we planned,” Brad Cox said. “That was the trip we were hoping for. Florent (Geroux) did a great job getting her out of the gate and getting her into position. She was three wide into the first turn. That was kind of what we expected. It all went well. She was able to put herself where she needed to be and kick on down the lane. She did look like she got a little hesitant at the quarter pole and Florent said he had to stay on to her. She responded and finished strong down the lane.”
The remaining order of finish was as follows: Chocolate Martini, Sassy Sienna, Coach Rocks, Kelly's Humor, Heavenhasmynikki, Classy Act, My Miss Lilly, Patrona Margarita, Rayya, and Take Charge Paula.
Standing next to trainer Mark Casse after the race, watching replays of the stretch run on the big screen, Velazquez identified three separate times that Monomoy Girl had bumped his mount Wonder Gadot in the stretch.
“It was enough to get my horse off balance,” Velazquez explained. “This sort of thing happens all the time but when you get hit that much you'd better put up an inquiry to protect your owners. You've got to do it.
“It looked like I was going to win it. I was always there.”
“The third time he hit you it made her switch leads,” Casse said to Velazquez, then added: “The filly that won ran very game. There was contact (in the stretch) and it made our filly switch her leads. I think it was going to be really close, but I think the stewards made the right call. To take a horse down in this type of race, it would have to be pretty significant. As much as I'd like to say I would like to have won, I understand the ruling. I'm very proud of her. She's definitely a wonder woman.”
Monomoy Girl was bred in Kentucky by Brendan and Olive Gallagher of Frankfort Park Farm and Michael Hernon under the name Highfield Ranch, out of the winning Henny Hughes mare Drumette. The filly was a $100,000 yearling at the Keeneland September sale, and won on debut at Indiana Grand in September of her juvenile season. She has only been defeated once in her seven-race career, winning six starts for earnings of over $1.1 million.
Monomoy Girl crossed the finish line first at the 144th Kentucky Oaks! Presented by @Longines
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) May 4, 2018
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