ELMONT, NY – The 2018 Eclise Award Champion Monomoy Girl is back to face graded stakes foes in Saturday’s $150,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2), a 1 1/8-mile main track event for older fillies and mares at Belmont Park.

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At one point in time one of the most dominating equine athletes in the world, Monomoy Girl capped off a nearly-spotless 2018 campaign (7-6-1-0 record) by winning the Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1).

The 5-year-old Tapizar mare missed all of 2019 with various ailments, but trainer Brad Cox patiently brought her along and waited until this past May 16 to place her back into competition.

Monomoy Girl’s first start in over 18 months was a trouncing of optional claiming foes at Churchill Downs, showed that like a fine wine, she may have improved with age.

“I talked to Brad today and he’s expecting her to run well, she’s training as well as she has ever trained,” said Sol Kumin of Monomoy Stables, who co-owns Monomoy Girl with Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables. “She obviously ran that first race (at Churchill Downs), but you still have your fingers crossed until Saturday.”

Monomoy Girl in the Churchill Downs paddock prior to her return (Credit: Coady Photography)

With a record of 12-10-2-0 and a hair over $3 million earned, Monomoy Girl is the reason why the Ruffian will not offer show betting. She is such a strong favorite that she was given a 2/5 morning line (rarely seen albeit in extreme circumstances) against her four competitors.

The Bob Baffert-trained Mother Mother presents the biggest challenge on paper, with 2 dirt stakes scores to her name. This will be her first time handling this distance, but her previous longest race saw her miss by a neck in 2018’s 1 1/16-mile Starlet Stakes (G1).

Piedi Bianchi adds blinkers for the first time as she stretches out following a series of successful sprints. She is twice Grade 1-placed routing on dirt and won a small stakes at Indiana Grand in 2018 while traversing 1 1/16 miles.

Always Shopping and Vexatious show up after most recently running in separate turf races. Always Shopping previously won a pair of Kentucky Oaks (G1) preps last year, both while going this distance at Aqueduct. Vexatious has two stakes victories on her resume, but each came on turf.