Shifman: Cox barn's hot 2020 start reflects in national rankings

Shifman: Cox barn's hot 2020 start reflects in national rankings
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Fair Grounds Race Course held the spotlight last Saturday, and trainer Brad Cox came up big when he won three out of the four Grade 2 stakes offered on the card.

As a result, all three of those horses received votes in the national polls led by the Louisiana Derby winner Wells Bayou, who broke into NTRA Top 3-Year-Old Poll at No. 7.


Last week, Wells Bayou received only a single ninth-place vote, which happened to come from this writer. However, by the time the field of 14 went in the gate for the Louisiana Derby, he was the 3-1 favorite.


With a front-running trip, jockey Florent Geroux controlled the race and crossed the finish line with a length and a half advantage. Now, Wells Bayou's 121 points put him behind only Bob Baffert's top trio of 3-year-olds, Tiz the Law, Ete Indien and Honor A. P.


A race earlier, the lightly raced Bonny South rallied from last to first to win the Fair Grounds Oaks while ending Finite's five-race winning streak. Exiting her fourth start, the Juddmonte Farms homebred received votes in the Top 3-Year-Old Poll that's dominated by her male counterparts.


The Cox trained 3-year-olds now lead the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Oaks points races, too, based on their 100-point payouts on Saturday.


As far as older horses from the barn, for the second time in a little over a month, the 5-year-old turf runner Factor This went straight to the front and led every step of the way in the Muniz Memorial to break his own turf course record. With two graded stakes victories this year, Factor This received mentions on Top 10 ballots for the first time.


In 2020, Cox has already taken down nine graded stakes races while striking with 28% of his starers overall. His career winning percentage currently stands at 25.5%. He was the leading trainer at the just-completed Fair Grounds meeting with 40 victories at a clip of 27%.


The only big race that Cox didn’t nab Saturday went to By My Standards, the winner of last year’s Louisiana Derby who continued his comeback for Bret Calhoun with an impressive three-length score in the New Orleans Classic. The son of Goldencents had not been seen since finishing 11th in the Kentucky Derby until he returned victoriously in a Fair Grounds allowance last month.


By My Standards made his first appearance in the Top Thoroughbred Poll at No. 9 with the look of a horse with plenty of room for improvement. Of course, he’ll need to get continue to win at tracks other than Fair Grounds.


Midnight Bisou is on top of the Older Horse Poll for the second week in a row. It is, however, the coronavirus pandemic that is controlling the division with recent cancellations of the Dubai World Cup, the Keeneland Spring meet and the shutdown of racing on the NYRA circuit.


This Saturday, No. 3 Zulu Alpha is expected to put this two-race winning streak on the line in the Pan American (G2) at Gulfstream Park before Tiz the Law leads the Florida Derby (G1).


 Consensus Top 10

 Matt Shifman's Top 10

 1. Midnight Bisou (32)

 1. Midnight Bisou

 2. Mucho Gusto

 2. Mucho Gusto

 3. Zulu Alpha

 3. Mr Freeze

 4. Mr Freeze

 4. Zulu Alpha

 5. Maximum Security (7)

 5. Mind Control

 6T. Combatant

 6. Tiz the Law

 6T. Serengeti Empress

 7. By My Standards

 8. Code of Honor

 8. Code of Honor

 9. By My Standard

 9. Starship Jubilee

 10T. McKinzie

 10. Tacitus

 10T. Starship Jubilee



Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently is a Senior Writer. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing

Matt has been a co-host of the popular weekly video show HorseCenter for many years.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Matt is also a partner in the New York Hot List handicapping service @NYHotList where he handicaps the races on the NYRA circuit everyday. The Hot List picks are available at several ADW sites around the country.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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