This Week in Racing: Monomoy Girl-Midnight Bisou Round 2

July 17, 2018 09:01am

Suddenly, the 2018 crop of 3-year-old fillies has become one of the best divisions in American racing, and the good news for racing fans is that this talented group will take little time to rest on their laurels. In fact, opening weekend at Saratoga figures to be dominated by Sunday's showdown between Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou in the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks.

opped by the Kentucky Oaks winner, Monomoy Girl, the upper echelon of the sophomore girls have been on an impressive roll of late. In the last few weeks alone, Midnight Bisou romped in the Grade 1 Mother Goose, the Queen’s Plate was won in dominating fashion by Wonder Gadot, and Red Ruby turned Delaware Park into her own private playpen for the Delaware Oaks. Throw in the lightly raced Talk Veuve To Me, who accounted for Saturday night's Indiana Oaks as easy as she pleased, and you can see why this group of fillies has taken over the U.S. racing landscape. 

The Grade 1, Coaching Club American Oaks at nine furlongs has been the plan for Monomoy Girl since she was a clear winner of the Acorn Stakes on Belmont Stakes Day. That victory was her fourth consecutive dynamic and decisive victory of 2018 without a defeat. Since then, she has only been flattered by impressive wins by fillies which she has already beaten in Midnight Bisou, Wonder Gadot, and Talk Veuve To Me.

A daughter of Tapizar, the Brad Cox-trained chestnut is 7-for-8 lifetime, and will be seeking her fourth straight Grade 1 victory on Sunday. A clear leader of the division to this point, Monomoy Girl will have to continue her excellence to maintain her perch above the rest.

The filly with the best overall credentials after the division leader is Midnight Bisou. Fresh off a six-length runaway in the Mother Goose, the daughter of Midnight Lute has only suffered one defeat in five starts this year. Actually favored in the betting over Monomoy Girl, she did not have the best of trips when she came home third in the large field of the
Kentucky Oaks. Since then, she was moved from the Bill Spawr barn to that of Hall of Fame trainer, Steve Asmussen, to go after the big races on the East Coast.

Step one of the plan went off without a hitch, as she proved tons the best on June 30. Prior to the Kentucky Oaks, Midnight Bisou had rattled off three straight easy graded stakes scores at Santa Anita, culminating with the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Last time at Belmont Park, she easily dispatched of Road to Victory, who is the only horse ever to finish ahead of Monomoy Girl, and she came out of that win so well, that her connections decided to bring her right back for opening weekend at Saratoga.

As good as Midnight Bisou has been this year, though, there can be little doubt that it was her rival that was best on the first Friday of May.

In horse racing, and in sports in general, your place at the top is always the envy of everyone else. And so it is in this year's loaded 3-year-old filly division. In Sunday's CCA Oaks, Monomoy Girl will not only have to face the very talented Midnight Bisou once again, but she will have other hurdles to face, as well.

First off, it is difficult for any horse to continuously beat top competition time and time again through an entire season. Only the best of the best can traverse an entire calendar year without a hiccup. Monomoy Girl's consistency has been remarkable to this point, but it gets no easier from here.

Then you have Saratoga. It's
 a track on which neither filly has yet raced, and it's also a place where countless favorites have gone down to surprising defeats. Secretariat's loss at the hands of Onion can never be forgotten, and more recently, American Pharoah suffered the only defeat of his final 10 races when passed late by Keen Ice in the Travers. Of course, it would be no major surprise to see Midnight Bisou turn the tables on Monomoy Girl on Sunday.

Adding an additional subplot to the CCA Oaks is the new common ownership of the rivals, as Sol Kumin, a primary owner of Monomoy Girl, has bought into the ownership group of Midnight Bisou before her win in the Mother Goose.

Both fillies will be piloted by their familiar partners in round two. Mike Smith (Midnight Bisou) and Florent Geroux (Monomoy Girl) are two of the best in the business and know their fillies well. Monomoy Girl has more tactical speed of the pair, and that could be an advantage in the expected small field. Midnight Bisou, though, demonstrated a real ability to be in the race from the outset last time in the Mother Goose.

Clearly both fillies are top-notch and come into the CCA Oaks in excellent form. Whoever wins the race on Sunday, we can only hope for a fair race in which both get their trip, and perhaps this will be only part two of an excellent new rivalry.


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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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