In just five years, trainer Brad Cox has emerged as one of top trainers in North America. In 2020, he’s second in graded stakes won and his $13.8 million in purse earnings rank him second heading into the final quarter of the year.
Cox won his first Breeders’ Cup race in 2018 with Monomoy Girl (Distaff) and he won two more last year with British Idiom (Juvenile Fillies) and Covfefe (Filly and Mare Sprint). In 2020, Cox has as strong an arsenal as any trainer entering the event.
Watch the 2020 Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November.
AUNT PEARL (Juvenile Fillies Turf): Speed is this Lope de Vega’s weapon as she scored a front-running, five-length maiden victory on September 1st at Churchill Downs followed by a dominant 2 1-2-length victory in the Grade 2 Jessamine Stakes at Keeneland on October 7th.
“She’s fast,” Cox said. “I don’t think her first race showed just how fast she is. She was able to break and put herself up in the race. That turf had some cut in the ground and she won that race with ease.
“The second race is the first time we ever let her run,” Cox added. “Florent (Geroux) let her kick on down the lane and she responded well. She’s a very talented horse with a lot of natural speed and is able to carry it around two turns.”
ABARTA (Juvenile Turf): This son of Into Mischief came from off the pace to win his debut in August at Ellis Park and then rallied from tenth to finish second to Mutasaabeq in the Grade 2 Bourbon Stakes at odds of 17-1.
“Our horse is very, very green,” Cox said. “He stepped up the last three-sixteenths of a mile in that race. He finished well and the jock had a lot of good things to say about him.”
Cox plans to add blinkers to Abarta’s equipment for the Juvenile Turf.
“We’re cutting back to a mile and we do need to be involved,” Cox said. “He did lose some position going into the turn the other day. I'm not saying he would have won but he could have made it a little closer. We’re not going to be able to give up ground against horses like in these on the far turn so I’m hoping the addition of blinkers will help him.”
ESSENTIAL QUALITY (Juvenile): Son of Tapit bred and owned by Godolphin was a bit green early on but exploded when found clear running room in a four-length maiden score at Churchill Downs on September 5th. He came back four weeks later with another strong performance, pressing the pace and drawing clear to win the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland.
Figures to be second choice behind Jackie’s Warrior in the Juvenile.
“Mentally, he has a little way to go but I feel like he’s moved forward from the Breeders’ Futurity mentally and physically,” Cox said. “He’s a very talented horse. For him to accomplish what he has to this point is very impressive. Bottom line, lot of upside.”
KNICKS GO (Dirt Mile): Winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity in 2018 when trained by Ben Colebrook, he got his first victory since then in February in his first start for Cox. After another layoff due to surgery to remove an ankle chip, he returned with the fastest race of his career, a 10 1-2-length allowance score in which he ran 1 1-16 miles in 1:40.79, a track record, on October 4th at Keeneland.
“He obviously likes that track, he has speed I think it could be a really good set up for him and he’s just doing well,” Cox said. “He had the one race off a lengthy layoff but it was a big race and it was at Keeneland so it gives us enough confidence to look at the Dirt Mile.”
OWENDALE (Dirt Mile): Owns a win at Keeneland having taken the Lexington Stakes as a three-year-old going 1 1-16 miles. This year, he is just 1 for 4 with a victory in the Blame Stakes going a one-turn mile at Churchill Downs.
Most recently, he finished second in the Grade 3 Pimlico Special on October 3rd. Cox said pre-entered him to allow him and the owners more time to think about running but after his last two workouts he confirmed the horse as a starter on Sunday.
FACTOR THIS (Mile): Five wins and a second from seven starts this year including Grade 2 stakes wins at Fair Grounds and Churchill Downs. Most recently, he won the Grade 2 Dinner Party Stakes at Pimlico on Preakness Day beating a strong next-out winner stakes winner in Somelikeithotbrown.
Has the speed to be a forward factor in the Mile. He is 0 for 2 at a mile.
“I don’t know if that’s really his thing,” Cox said of the distance. “Against the right group it could, obviously this is going to be the best horses in the world at this distance we’ll see. He’s solid, he’ll run his race.”
Cox had planned to run the mare Beau Recall in the Mile, but removed her from consideration on Sunday.
MONOMOY GIRL (Distaff): The 2018 Distaff winner and North American three-year-old champion filly has made quite the comeback after missing her entire four-year-old season due to a bout with colic and a muscle pull.
She is 3 for 3 this year with an allowance win followed by victories in the Grade 2 Ruffian and Grade 1 La Troienne.
“Confidence-wise, I’m probably more confident this year than when we went into the Breeders’ Cup in 2018,” Cox said. “In 2018 we had never faced older horses, and it had been a long grueling campaign on her. This year, we’re coming into the Breeders’ Cup with a really fresh horse, one that really moves forward with eight or nine weeks between races. Her two graded stakes races this year have been very impressive and come back with big figures. I feel every bit as confident than maybe even more confident than we did in 2018.”
ARKLOW (Turf): Fourth to Enable in this race in 2018 and eighth behind Bricks and Mortar last year, this six-year-old horse seemed to perk up with the addition of blinkers last out when he won the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup by 1 1-4 lengths at Kentucky Downs.
“He’s definitely coming into this one better than he has the other ones,” Cox said. “The blinkers have propelled him forward. He’s training more aggressively, doing everything right, right now. He ran big last time with the blinkers and he doesn’t mind give in the ground.”
Cox also noted that Arklow had such a wide trip in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf that his Ragozin sheet number, a popular speed figure used by handicappers, was better than the winner, Bricks and Mortar.
“He wasn’t beaten that far and he was hung wide the whole way,” Cox said.