NEW ORLEANS, LA – Strong connections helped Monomoy Girl overcome several obstacles on Saturday – a long layoff, a rough start, and traffic to navigate – en route to victory in the Grade 2, $200,000 Rachel Alexandra Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Sent off as the heavy even-money favorite under top jockey Florent Geroux, Monomoy Girl broke out and immediately hit her gate, falling quickly to last in her first start since November 25. Recovering through the first turn, Geroux kept her reserved down the back stretch while Classy Act posted initial fractions of :23.58, :46.83, and 1:11.80. Moving out from last near the 1/2-mile pole, Monomoy Girl rallied four-wide and took command from Classy Act at the top of the stretch. Geroux initially showed her a left-handed whip, but after she shied away, he gave her a strong hand-ride to the wire, which she crossed first with ease by 2 1/2 lengths in a final time of 1:43.26 for the 1 1/16-mile main track event.
“(I felt good) at the 3/8 pole, when I went by Wonder Gadot,” Geroux said. “I was fully loaded and the horse on the lead was coming back to me fairly easily. She goofs around a little bit at the end, she’s pretty much done that in all of her starts. I don’t think she’s a big fan of the whip; if she keeps on running and winning, I don’t need to use it. She spooks around a little bit, sometimes the whip or a little mark on the ground. She’s very aware of what’s going on in front of her.”
Classy Act stayed on well to hold second by 1 1/4 lengths over Wonder Gadot, with Patrona Margarita taking fourth. Testing One Two, She’s a Julie, and Heavenly Love completed the order of finish.
The Rachel Alexandra is part of the Road to the 2018 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Monomoy Girl earned 50 points for the win, with Classy Act receiving 20 for second, Wonder Gadot 10 for third, and Patrona Margarita 5 for fourth.
Monomoy Girl’s victory improved her record to 5-4-1-0 for trainer Brad Cox, with her only non-win coming last out in the Grade 2 Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs. Owned by a partnership between Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables, the 3-year-old daughter of Tapizar improved her career earnings to $256,550.
“I wasn’t thinking good thoughts,” Cox said. “I was shocked she got away like that, although she had gate trouble earlier before she ever ran. Her last three works here at the Fair Grounds have been phenomenal. I was a little worried that some of the other fillies had a race on her over the last month. She showed us a lot. Overcoming things, dirt in her face, passing horses, stuff like that. She’s becoming a big girl.”
Monomoy Girl returned $3.80 to win, $3 to place, and $2.20 to show. Classy Act brought back $6.20 to place and $3.60 to show, while Wonder Gadot paid $2.40 to show.