In the starting gates for the first time since 2018 and running over the same course where she authored her two biggest triumphs, Monomoy Girl returned in style Saturday (May 16) at Churchill Downs.
The 5-year-old Tapizar mare coasted to a 2 3/4-length victory in an allowance optional claiming event on Churchill’s opening day card. The race was her first since November 2018, when she won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff under the Twin Spires to cap a year where she was named Eclipse Award 2018 Champion 3-year-old Filly.
Monomoy Girl, whose remarkable sophomore season also included a Kentucky Oaks victory, never made it to the races in 2019. She faced a bout of colic early last year, then a muscle strain while preparing to return to the track later in the season.
“At that point, I can remember last September when I wasn’t happy the way she cooled out in the morning and started thinking she’s maybe done as far as a racehorse goes,” trainer Brad Cox said. “These guys who own her, they’re game. They love racing.”
The mare returned to the work tab in February at Fair Grounds and, after working the last month and a half at Keeneland, Cox entered her for Saturday’s fourth race at Churchill.
Monomoy Girl broke from post No. 2 in the seven-horse field going a mile over a muddy main track. Jockey Florent Geroux rated the mare as Fashion Faux Pas set fractions of :22.87 for the quarter-mile and :46.33 for the half.
The champion rallied from the outside through the far turn, taking the lead entering the stretch. Geroux gave her some urging, and there was never a doubt as she made the mile in 1:36.51.
“I was pretty confident when she came off the turn,” Cox said. “It seemed like everybody behind was under a full drive and she seemed like she had something left. It’s a very positive race off the layoff. She was able to sit in behind some horses — broke well — very positive race.”
Later in the meet, Churchill Downs hosts the Fleur De Lis (G2) going longer, while race options will also appear in New York.
“We’ll see,” Cox said. “The goal would be to get her around two turns and give her plenty of time to recover from this one. We’ll see how she comes out of it.
“She’s always recovered really well. She had a gruelling 3-year-old campaign that every time I’d lead her over there you’d think, ‘How many times can this filly run that type of race at a Grade 1 level and keep coming back?’ And she responded every time, so she’s tough.”