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With ten horses entered on Saturday’s “Road to the Derby Day” card at Fair Grounds, including top contenders in both the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and the Silverbulletday Stakes presented by Fasig-Tipton, trainer Brad Cox appears loaded.
The Fair Grounds media team caught up with the 2021 Eclipse Award winner to discuss some of his runners.
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“Only had two runs in his life,” Cox said. “That (last race) was the first one going long. Once he shipped down here in early November, he has really taken off and improved. He really likes it here. He’s one that doesn’t have a tremendous amount of gate speed. We’re thinking he’ll have to settle in and come with a run and just see. I think Luis (jockey Saez) fits most horses and we’ll see if he fits him. We’re excited about the step up. We were very impressed with his maiden win and he’s done nothing but good things since.”
“Maybe he didn’t get into the rhythm we would’ve liked him to get in (in the Gun Runner, finished 3rd), Cox said. “He is a young horse still trying to figure things out. He’s had two good works since that last run. Physically he looks as well as he did going into that last one. We expect a better effort, we’re going to need a better effort. Obviously the horse that beat us last time is very good (Track Phantom) and he’s back in there.”
“I’m not treating it like he has to be on the lead,” Cox said. “He’s a smart horse. He’s capable of sitting off (the pace). When he broke his maiden (in April at Keeneland) he sat off horses. I really don’t think he has to be on the lead. It probably will be a situation where he will have to take a breath at some point. You can’t just run all out throughout. He’s somewhat lightly raced. We’re still trying to develop him. We’re hoping that he will be a top horse this year. Hopefully this is the next step. The Saudi Cup is 1 1/8th and one turn so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
“It didn’t quite set up as well as we expected,” Cox said. “There were other horses out there and we got caught up with a little more company than we wanted. “Nash always been a good work horse and it was a great move. He galloped out really,really well, and it gave us the confidence to march forward with him. If he runs the way he trains, we’ll be in good shape. I was very, very happy with the breeze for Saudi Crown as well. He was a little wide through the lane and around the turn. Plenty fit. He had a good work the week before last. We just wanted him to cruise along the other day and he did. I think he’s set up for a big spot. We hope he can perform well and everything goes well and we can turn our attention towards Saudi.”
“I think ‘break running’ is a fair way of putting what we want to see from her in there,” Cox said. “We’ll see where she wants to be positioned. Luis (jockey Saez) is on her and that’s a change. I think he’ll fit her. We’ll see if we can get a big effort out of her. No doubt (she compares to last year’s Silverbulletday winner, The Alys Look). The Alys Look went on to be a pretty good filly to run third in the Kentucky Oaks. This filly could definitely go down that path and I think she’ll answer a lot of questions on Saturday.”
“We’ve got two colts we like a good bit in the same maiden race going short,” Cox said. I’m hopeful both will run well. The expectations on Exploration and Cornishman are high, both talented colts. They’re both meant to go longer than 3/4, so we’re just getting started like we did with Bishop’s Bay and First Mission last year (at Fair Grounds). I would compare what we’re doing to that scenario. If these two end up being as good as those two we’re in great shape, but we have a lot of catching up to do with them. One thing about these two is they are getting started a month earlier than that set of horses. These are two promising colts that are bred to go a little further, we’re just trying to get a start in them. I think they’ll be tough on Saturday.”
“The filly is training really well,” Cox said. “I like her a good bit. She’s trained well. We’ll see if she is ready to step up. I don’t know if she’ll win the first time but she’s a decent filly.”
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