Oaklawn News

 

Cowboy Diplomacy Schooling in the Paddock. Credit: Taylor Radimer

Champion Monomoy Girl’s Little Brother Makes Debut Friday

Oaklawn fans could be seeing double this year, with champion Monomoy Girl a candidate for the $700,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares April 14 and her 3-year-old full brother, Cowboy Diplomacy, scheduled to make his career debut in Friday’s seventh race.

Cowboy Diplomacy has been based at Oaklawn for about two months, recording eight workouts (a Dec. 17 breeze wasn’t published because of heavy fog) for trainer Brad Cox and owners Pocket Aces Racing LLC and Madaket Stables LLC (Sol Kumin).

Cox and Kumin, as a co-owner, also campaign Monomoy Girl, who was named champion 3-year-old filly of 2018 after crossing the wire first in all seven starts, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) Nov. 3 at Churchill Downs.

Monomoy Girl and Cowboy Diplomacy – both chestnut – are by Tapizar out of the Henny Hughes mare, Drumette.

“They’re identical to physically look at,” Cox said. “For the most part, they’re very similar-looking horses. It’s hard to believe. Either he looks like a filly or she looks like a colt. We’re hoping he has just a touch of the ability she has, and he’ll be all right because she’s obviously a racehorse.”

Agent Liz Crow (BSW Bloodstock) purchased Monomoy Girl for $100,000 at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale and was the underbidder on Cowboy Diplomacy, who sold to Pocket Aces Racing for $175,000 at the 2017 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Fall Yearling Sale.

Crow said during a recent visit to Oaklawn that she loved Cowboy Diplomacy at the sale, but didn’t “have $175,000 at that point in the year,” so she approached Mark Wampler, Pocket Aces’ racing/bloodstock manager, about buying a piece of the colt. Pocket Aces provides opportunities to individuals through “fractional ownership,” according to its website.

Crow said Pocket Aces owns 75 percent of Cowboy Diplomacy and Kumin 25 percent.

Cowboy Diplomacy sold when Monomoy Girl had only made two career starts and just before she won the $82,670 Rags to Riches Stakes for 2-year-old fillies in October 2017 at Churchill Downs, which was her dirt and stakes debut.

“I think it would have gone up quite a bit because he looked a lot like her at the sale,” Crow said of the purchase price. “He had a ton of class and quality to him. I think at that point and time it was the week of the Rags to Riches, so she wasn’t even a stakes winner. She hadn’t even run on the dirt. She was just a two-time turf winner … if was there was year in between, like he was sold last year, I think he would have brought a lot more.”

Crow said she was immediately struck by the “size” and “scope” of Cowboy Diplomacy and the similarities to Monomoy Girl.

“Their hips are built a little differently,” Crow said. “There are a few things that are different about them, but they’re small things.”

Crow said minor shin issues kept Cowboy Diplomacy from running at 2. His training sessions at Oaklawn have been highlighted by a swift 5-furlong bullet workout from the gate (:59.60) Jan. 20.

“It’s funny,” Crow said. “I think he’s shown more in the mornings than she did initially because she wasn’t really highly thought of before she was breezing in the beginning of her career. It took her a while to put it all together, whereas he seems to really be putting it together in the mornings. Breezing :59 and change out of the gate wasn’t something she really did in the mornings.”

Monomoy Girl recently returned to Cox’s barn at Fair Grounds after a winter freshening in Florida. The Apple Blossom and $500,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1) May 3 at Churchill Downs are being considered for Monomoy Girl’s 4-year-old debut, Cox said.

Probable post time for Friday’s seventh race at 6 furlongs is 4:14 p.m. (Central).

Bonus Baby

Souixper Charger became the first “Lasix-free Bonus” winner of the meeting, and 27th since Oaklawn began the program in 2015, with a 4 ¾-length maiden victory Jan. 25 for trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs and owner Eugenia Thompson-Benight of Sheridan, Ark.

Souixper Charger, a 3-year-old son of Portobello Road, was making his second career start in the Arkansas-bred maiden special weights sprint. The colt debuted on Lasix and finished 11th in a stout maiden special weights sprint Oct. 25 at Keeneland.

Souixper Charger earned an additional 10 percent of the winner’s share ($4,620) for the victory. The purse was originally $77,000, with $46,200 going to the winner.

Asked if Souixper Charger was taken off Lasix because of the bonus, Cates said, “No.”

“Now I’m glad we got the bonus – don’t get me wrong,” Cates said. “I had him in Kentucky. Of course, we train them on Lasix a time or two to kind of let them get used to it. Every time I worked him on Lasix, he didn’t work like I thought he could. One time I worked him with a horse I thought he would beat and didn’t.”

 

Cates said he and Thompson-Benight then decided to work Souixper Charger with and without Lasix after arriving at Oaklawn and compare the results. Cates said the colt breezed much sharper without the anti-bleeder medication. 

“We’d been off it either way,” Cates said. “At some point, we may have to go on it, may have no choice.”

 

Oaklawn announced in September 2014 that it would become the country’s first track to offer a purse incentive for horses that ran and won without Lasix during the 2015 meeting.
The “Lasix-free Bonus Program” offers a 10 percent hike to the winner’s share of the purse for horses that win without Lasix, which wasn’t legalized at Oaklawn on race day until the late 1980s, long after other major jurisdictions.

In a news release announcing the bonus, track President Charles Cella called Oaklawn’s program “experimental” and said he hoped it would inspire more owners and trainers to race their horses without Lasix. The vast majority of horses run on Lasix.

Oaklawn had five Lasix-free winners in 2015, four in 2016, five in 2017 and 12 last year, according to data provided by the track.

The 27 Lasix-free winners have totaled $68,340 in bonuses to date, funds that come from the track and not its purse account.

Souixper Charger was the first horse Cates had started at Keeneland. The winner and runner-up in that October race, Boldor and Super Steed, returned to finish third and seventh, respectively, in the $150,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 25, Oaklawn’s first of four major Kentucky Derby preps.

Cates said Souixper Charger’s major Oaklawn objective is the $100,000 Rainbow Stakes for Arkansas-bred 3-year-olds at 6 furlongs April 20.

Cohen Looking Ahead

David Cohen, Oaklawn’s third-leading rider in his 2018 debut, is almost certain to move his tack to Kentucky after the meeting ends May 4, his agent, Bill Castle, said Sunday morning.

The New York-based Cohen had a bounce-back year in 2018 when he won 114 races and had $6,775,883 in purse earnings.

But Castle said he’s “98 percent” certain that Cohen, 34, will become a regular at Churchill Downs, instead of returning to New York. Competing in New York and the Mid-Atlantic, Cohen ranked sixth nationally in victories (288) and 24th nationally in purse earnings ($7,357,326) in 2009 before a severe leg injury in early 2014 and the subsequent deaths of his father and sister derailed his career for approximately three years.

Cohen recorded his biggest career victory to date in the $1 million Travers Stakes (G1) in 2012 at Saratoga aboard Golden Ticket, who dead-heated with Alpha.

Castle has represented Cohen for more than a decade and said he and the jockey are committed to making Oaklawn their winter base.

“Home is New York,” Castle said. “Born and raised in the cement city. But I think believing that this is going to be our base, Oaklawn Park, that we’ll return with some of the clients that come out of Kentucky. It’s a better fit that we go on their circuit and that’s really what David and I have discussed.”

Cohen has gotten off to a strong start this year at Oaklawn. He has ridden six winners through the first six days of racing, including Saturday’s $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies aboard Power Gal, to rank second in the standings. Cohen rode 37 winners last year in Hot Springs.

“Believing if this meet increases in days, it will be our base,” Castle said. “We’ll buy homes here. We’ll stay here.”

Finish Lines

The track was rated fast for workouts Wednesday morning. … Oaklawn stakes winner Mallard’s Bro is nearing his 9-year-old debut, trainer Al Cates of Hot Springs said, with the major spring objective the $200,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Championship at 1 1/16 miles May 4. Mallard’s Bro won the $75,000 Arkansas Breeders’ Stakes for state-breds in 2014 at Oaklawn. The gelding worked a half-mile in :48.80 Wednesday morning. … Post positions were to be drawn Wednesday for Saturday’s $100,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters. … Jessica Krupnick was sent to Kentucky to be bred to Into Mischief following her fifth-place finish in the $100,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Jan. 26, trainer Norman McKnight said Tuesday morning.