Cox holds Breeders' Cup Classic mount for recovering rider Geroux

By Jennie Rees
October 21, 2019 05:09pm
Rupp Racing's Owendale will jump back into competition against not only top 3-year-olds but older horses in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic as one of Brad Cox's quintet of contenders in the Nov. 1-2 championships at Santa Anita Park.

Owendale is unbeaten in Grade 3 races, sweeping Keeneland’s Stonestreet Lexington, Thistledown’s Ohio Derby and Remington Park’s Oklahoma Derby. In his prior Grade 1 starts, he was a good third in the Preakness Stakes and fifth of 12 in the Travers Stakes after looking like he had a shot to win in mid-stretch under Florent Geroux.

“Down on the inside didn’t seem like the place to be many days this summer at Saratoga,” Cox said. “I mean, he wasn’t glued to the fence, but it did seem like the farther out the better, and the winner (Classic contender Code of Honor) came down the middle of the track that day.

"Florent kind of had to get after him at the three-eighths pole, the five-sixteenths pole and I thought, ‘He’s backing out of it.’ Then he kind of stayed on. I think with a good trip, this horse can get a mile and a quarter.”

Cox is holding the mount on Owendale for Florent Geroux, who fractured his sternum in a training mishap at Keeneland. Geroux is hoping to be back in time to ride the race.

“We’ve got some replacements in mind if we need to cross that bridge,” Cox said.

The $1 million Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile will be held around two turns at Santa Anita, which could have been an option for Owendale. But if you’re going bear hunting, might as well go for the biggest bear.

“Yeah, and, well, the difference between the Dirt Mile and the Classic is $5 million,” Cox said, adding of a big effort, “It would do a lot for him as far as becoming a stallion, going a mile and a quarter and being by Into Mischief.

“The Preakness, I think if he gets an inside trip or could have saved a little more ground, the way the race unfolded, I think he could have been right there with War of Will. This horse kind of reminds me of Monomoy Girl last year. These horses have been in training all year, and you keep thinking, ‘When are they going to take that step back and ask for that break?’

"He’s not done that. He just keeps moving forward and getting better, just like she did last year. He’s a very tough horse, solid and sound, gives it to you every week when you ask him to breeze and shows up on race day.”

Owendale figures to be something of a price, odds-wise, in the Classic, but Cox says he’s not just taking a flier and believes the colt has the ability to win the race.

“Absolutely,” he said. “There’s no doubt. This horse gets good (handicapping) numbers. If he gets the trip, he’ll be there, there’s no doubt in my mind. If he’s doing as well two weeks from now as he is today, he’ll be a factor in the race.”

Owendale started his career out last year at Ellis Park, with a third and a fourth. The current 3-year-olds already include five Grade 1 winners who ran at Ellis Park at age 2.


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