Cox reveals plans for 3-year-old Colts
For the Brad Cox stables, the road to the GI Kentucky Derby will stop on Saturday at Oaklawn where Verification (justification) will run in an allowance race. This will be his first game since finishing sixth at the GI Breeders’ Cup for minors. Cox will also send Judo (street feeling), who will not be among the favorites in the race. But even if the Cox pair falters, he will still be loaded. Coach mandalun (Into Mischief) was placed first in the 2021 Derby with Medina Spirit (Protonico) out, there are at least eight legitimate candidates for the Derby. Here’s a look at his squad:
Verification in progress: Buying Keeneland for $775,000 in September, he finished second in GI Champagne S. before finishing middle in the Juniors.
“Hopefully Saturday’s race will be the start of a big year for him and things will go well for him on Saturday,” Cox said. “After this race and if everything goes well on Saturday, we will be looking to prepare for the Triple Crown.”
Log in (Ghostzapper): Even though he came in second after the eventual winner Forte (Violence) in GI Breeders’ Futurity, Loggins made the announcement that day that he was a horse to be reckoned with. Of the two, it was clear that Forte had the better ride and Loggins fought back in the late game. Cox then decided to skip the Youth and prepare the horses for the Derby. Loggins remains at WinStar Ranch, where he’s been chasing Breeders’ Futurity for some R&R, but the trainer says he’ll be back at his Fair Grounds warehouse soon. Cox is still undecided when it comes to Loggins’ next race.
winning lineup (Tapwrit): In the first attempt of about two rounds, Victory Formation beat Smarty Jones S. 1 mile on January 1 in Oaklawn by three stages. After passing the all-important distance test, he should be ready for a more difficult task. Cox said the pony will appear next in GII Rebel S. or GII Risen Star S.
angel of the empire (Classic Empire): Second place after Victory Formation stable in Smarty Jones. His next start will be in Rebel or Risen Star.
Instant coffee (Bolt d’Oro): Last seen winning the GII Kentucky Jockey Club S. on November 26 at Churchill. That he won about two turns and was in Churchill Downs was a plus. He will next run in GIII Lecomte S. on January 21 at the Fair Grounds.
“He’s doing well,” Cox said. “Since his last run, we’ve pointed to Lecomte and have helped freshen him up a little bit. He trained very well here at the Fair Grounds.”
Jace’s Road (Quality Sugar): There’s a big race coming up on December 26 gunman S. at the Fair Grounds, which he won 5 1/2 lengths and ended well. He’s been working regularly since, and Cox said the GIII Southwest S. would be the next one for him.
Giant naughty (Into Mischief): Met a bit of a failure when unable to win Springboard Mile S. at Remington with a favorite 4-5 score. However, he finished second and ran well enough to show he still belongs in Derby’s picture. Cox said Rebel would be next.
Cox said: “He had three runs when he was 2 years old and ran in mid-December. “I feel like he will only need two starts before the Derby. We’ll find out if we can get enough points and if he deserves to be in the Derby.”
corona (Bolt d’Oro): A 2 to 2 and an impressive winner of the six-round Sugar Bowl S. where he earned 97 Beyer. Can he stretch?
“He’s a good pony,” Cox said. “We’re going to try him out in the Southwest and will prep him at the Fair Grounds for his first run about two turns. It’s always a bit of a wonder if they want to go twice or not. He is a very fast horse but he is also smart and seems comfortable and responsive to what the rider wants.
Although Cox has officially won a Derby, he admits he wants another and does so with the horse crossing the rope first. He is optimistic that in this group of worms there may be that particular horse.
“It’s a very good group that we have,” he said. “Last summer, I felt that we had a very good group of ponies. I feel blessed and very happy with where we are. But I’m the first to admit that there’s a long way to go before we hit the first Saturday in May and everything has to be on track.
“The Derby is why I wake up and do this every day. It means a lot to me and everyone in our stables. It means a lot to owners, and racing really helps push this game forward. It’s the biggest race we have in America. For me, it would be nice to win the right way and get over the rope first.”