With a front-running trip, a colt sharing plenty of connections to the champion filly scored with authority Saturday in Fair Grounds’ Grade 2, $400,000 Risen Star Stakes.
As with Monomoy Girl, Mr. Monomoy is trained by Brad Cox and had jockey Florent Geroux in the irons. Sol Kumin’s familiar silks were worn Saturday, too, as the Palace Malice colt galloped to 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.43.
"I was thinking about stalking,"Geroux said, "but when I saw no one was really going for it, I just took advantage."
Fair Grounds drew 23 entries for the Risen Star, splitting the race in two divisions. Most handicappers figured the first flight topped by Mr. Monomoy was stronger.
Mr. Monomoy, third in the local Lecomte Stakes (G3) in his prior start, turned the tables as Enforceable and Silver State filled out the board in Risen Star Division 1.
Having secured the lead the first time by, Mr. Monomoy led them through opening fractions of 24.22 and 48.57. The pressure ramped up through the far turn when allowance winner Blackberry Wine headed him through 3/4 of a mile in 1:12.85.
Monomoy Girl turned back that rival, then went on to grow his lead throughout the long Fair Grounds stretch.
"Watching him race his last two starts, I felt pretty confident he could get a mile and an eighth," Cox said. "...He galloped out well last time -- was down on the inside, maybe pulling a little bit. He was one of the few horses that was up front that day that stayed on."
This time, Mr. Monomoy exited from a more outside post, No. 9, and dictated terms on the pace. Behind Enforceable and Silver State, Farmington Road, a Todd Pletcher shipper, was fourth.
The top finishers earned Derby qualifying points on the full 50-20-10-5 scale for this first “Championship Series” prep given Fair grounds kept a $400,000 purse for both its races Saturday.
Cox, a native of Louisville, could make Mr. Monomoy his first Derby starter as his stable rises in prominence, claiming two more Eclipse Awards in 2019 to add to Monomoy Girl's title the year prior.
"Obviously it will just be one race before the Derby," Cox said. "What race that is, we don't know. We've just got to see how he comes out of it and how some other horses run over the next few weeks and how things unfold and go from there."