Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cox Hoping for Strong Saratoga Meet

A year after saddling his first graded stakes winner and Breeders’ Cup starter, Brad Cox is nearing another mile-stone in his training career. Oaklawn’s co-third-leading trainer this year is scheduled to make his Saratoga stakes debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Sanford (G3) for 2-year-olds with unbeaten Twirling Cinnamon.

Twirling Cinnamon, owned by prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers, is among 12 horses Cox has at Saratoga, which opens its prestigious meeting Friday.

Cox had a small string at the upstate New York venue for the first time last year and had a 3-2-1 record from 14 starters.

“Definitely a better group this year than last year,” Cox said. “We’ve got some allowance horses, some grass horses up here. It’s a tough meet. We had a very good meet last year. Hopefully, we can have another one this year.”

Twirling Cinnamon, in his only career start, overcame trouble to break his maiden by a nose June 19 at Churchill Downs, covering 5 ½ furlongs over a fast track in a sharp 1:03.93.

From the first crop of Grade I winner Twirling Candy, Twirling Cinnamon was a $180,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase.

“He’s a nice colt,” Cox said. “We know he’s a good horse. We’ll see if he’s a real good horse. Obviously, his second start is going to be a big jump, but a lot of them, it’s their second start.”

Julien Leparoux retains the mount on Twirling Cinnamon, who is scheduled to break from post 9 in the projected 11-horse field.

Also entered in the 6-furlong Sanford is John Q. Public, trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, a two-time Oaklawn training champion who annually winters in Hot Springs.

Probable post time for the Sanford is 4:32 p.m. (Central).

Carve (G3 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap/Dirt Mile) represented the first graded winner and Breeders’ Cup starter for Cox last year.

The trainer has had 377 winners since starting his first horse in 2004, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Smoother Ride

Cox has already had four winners for Landers, who became his became his biggest client March 30 after the owner moved 11 horses at Oaklawn previously with trainer Cody Autrey.

Landers was Oaklawn’s fourth-leading owner in 2014 with 11 victories, but was 0 for 18 during the 2015 meet-ing.

Cox also received around eight 2-year-olds from Landers, including Twirling Cinnamon, who won his June 19 career debut at Churchill Downs and is entered in Saturday’s $150,000 Sanford Stakes (G3) at Saratoga.

“I think we’ve only had 11 or 12 starts for Steve,” Cox said. “We’ve had a good run so far and hope to keep it rolling.”
 
Making Plans

Cox said Carve, winner of the $100,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 16 at Oaklawn, is pointing for the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes Aug. 1 at Mountaineer.

Carve, who has $957,840 in career earnings, won the West Virginia Governor’s Stakes last year. In his last start, the gelding ran fourth in the $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap (G3) June 27 at Prairie Meadows.

Oaklawn maiden winner Allied Air Raid is nominated to the $100,000 Curlin Stakes July 31 at Saratoga, but is pointing for the $100,000 Super Derby Prelude Stakes Aug. 8 at Louisiana Downs, Cox said.

The Super Derby Prelude is the final major local prep for the $400,000 Super Derby (G2) Sept. 12.

Allied Air Raid was runner-up in the $250,000 Iowa Derby (G3) June 27 at Prairie Meadows in his last start.
 
Weast Hill, romping winner of the $75,000 Rainbow Stakes March 29 at Oaklawn, is being freshened for the 2016 Oaklawn meeting, Cox said. In his last start, he finished second in a second-level/optional claiming sprint July 7 at Indiana Grand. Cox said there’s nothing physically wrong with Weast Hill, adding the 3-year-old Rockport Harbor gelding could race once in December at Fair Grounds before returning to Oaklawn.

Cox said he now has six horses for prominent Kentucky owners Richard and Bertram Klein. He said he’s trained for the Kleins in the past.

‘Pharoah’ sizzles

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah took another step toward the $1 million Haskell Invitational (G1) Aug. 2 at Monmouth Park with a rapid workout Thursday morning at Del Mar.

American Pharoah covered 6 furlongs over a fast track in 1:11. The Arkansas Derby and Rebel winner galloped out 7 furlongs in 1:24 and a mile in 1:38.40 following splits of :12.40, :24, :36.20 and :58.80.

The Haskell will be the first start for American Pharoah since becoming the 12th Triple Crown winner and first since Affirmed in 1978, by capturing the Belmont Stakes June 6.

Finish Lines

Hoppertunity, winner of Oaklawn’s $600,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) in 2014, is entered in Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap (G2) at Del Mar. Also entered is stablemate Bayern, third in last year’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). … Achiever’s Legacy, unraced since finishing third in the $400,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 4 at Oaklawn, has resumed training following colic surgery in late April, co-owner Richard Robertson of Camden, Ark., said. The 3-year-old filly is trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer, who is based on the West Coast.

-30-