SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Thirteen years into his training career, veteran Brad Cox had never won a Grade 1 stakes — racing's highest level of competition.
“That will do more for your career than anything, winning graded stakes,” said Cox, a Kentucky native.
That quickly changed in last spring's Ashland Stakes in Kentucky.
“Obviously it was the biggest achievement we had had to date,” Cox said from his barn at Saratoga Race Course this week.
“It was just so gratifying to finally have her be a Grade 1 winner, we knew she had that talent,” bloodstock agent Liz Crow said.
It was also a first career Grade 1 score for bloodstock agent Crow. The moment was made extra sweet as the winning filly, Monomoy Girl, was the very first horse she ever purchased at auction.
“It’s hard to describe how special she is, it’s almost like it’s your kid or something” said Crow, who paid $100,000 for Monomoy Girl at Keeneland’s 2016 September Sale on behalf of the horse’s current owners.
In the two months since, the chestnut filly has ran away with two more Grade 1 wins in a pair of the country’s most prestigious races for 3-year-old fillies. She captured the Kentucky Oaks in early May, followed by Belmont Park’s Acorn Stakes in June.
“She definitely showed she’s got a championship heart,” Cox said.
With eyes on a fourth straight, the team has arrived at Saratoga for an early summer tilt in Sunday’s Coaching Club American Oaks.
“Anywhere else in the country is kind of like on winning on the national stage,” Cox said. “Winning at Saratoga is like winning on the world stage."
The morning line favorite, Monomoy Girl will be challenged by four accomplished rivals.
“Saratoga is such a special place and her fourth Grade 1 win in a row, so it would mean a lot if she could do that,” Crow said.
With a chance to stamp herself as one of the stars of the Spa, the big chestnut filly has already taken those closest to her to new heights.
“I am just super proud of her,” Crow said. “We are really enjoying this ride and taking it all in.”
“I’m not calling her a champion yet but hopefully she will be in the future,” Cox said.
Monomoy Girl will have her work cut out for her, with Midnight Bissou highlighting her four challengers. The Steve Asmussen-trained filly was a six-length winner of last month’s Grade 2 Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont. Post time for Sunday’s Coaching Club American Oaks is scheduled for 5:40 p.m.