Mr. Monomoy is starting to make his own reputation. The half-brother to 2018 champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl sprinted to the lead from the starting gate in Saturday’s first division of the $400,000 Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds and posted a wire-to-wire upset. Overlooked at 7-1 odds, he drew off in upper stretch and scored by 2 1/2 lengths.
Florent Geroux was up for trainer Brad Cox, and Mr. Monomoy likely stamped his ticket to the Kentucky Derby with the 50-point prize in the qualifying race. The son of Palace Malice switched tactics after recording a non-threatening third following a stalking trip in his stakes debut, the Jan. 18 Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, and Mr. Monomoy was making his fifth career start for owners Sol Kumin’s Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb, and Doheny Racing Stable.
“He galloped out well last time and I thought he could get this (1 1/8-mile) distance,” Cox said. “I thought the draw today gave him the opportunity to break and clear if he wanted, and obviously he was willing to do it. Florent put him in a great spot and he stepped up to the plate today and proved that he belongs.
The $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 21 is an option for the Fair Grounds-based sophomore.
“We have a long way to go, but we expect him to come out in good order,” Cox said about the future. “It will probably be one more race before the (Kentucky) Derby, what race that will be we don’t know. We just have to see how he comes out of it and see what other horses run in the next few weeks and see how everything unfolds, but we’re really happen with him.”
The Lecomte form held with the winning Enforceable rallying for second Saturday. Lecomte runner-up Silver State was a half-length back in third. Both were 3-1 in the Risen Star, with Silver State the slight favorite. It was another 1 1/2 lengths to fourth-placer Farmington Road, who got started too late from off the pace in his first stakes attempt.
Digital, Scabbard, Blackberry Wine, Moon Over Miami, Ready to Roll, Perfect Revenge and Shashashakemeup came next under the wire.
The first of 16 races in the Championship Series of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, both divisions of the Risen Star awarded points on 50-20-10-5 scale to the top four finishers.
Mr. Monomoy was hustled from post 9 when the gates opened and led by about a length through opening splits of :24.22 and :48.58. He faced a challenge from Blackberry Road entering the far turn, and from Digital entering the lane, but turned back both and reasserted control by accelerating clear in upper stretch. He reached the mile mark in 1:37.65 with a two-length edge, and rolled to the wire, stopping the teletimer in 1:50.43.
“We had a really good start out of the gate,” Geroux said. “I was thinking about stalking, but when I saw no one was really going for the lead I took advantage of it and went for it. It worked really nicely for me. It was a good distance and there was no real competition up front.
“Last time he did have a bad trip, but it was partly the break. He’s still a new horse and learning everything but he showed me a lot today, I’m really happy with him.”
Enforceable was away from the gate slowly and launched an early bid from well off the pace to reach midpack along the backstretch. He came again with a wide rally to overtake Silver State in deep stretch. Silver State enjoyed a good stalking trip in fifth and was in position turning for home, but lacked the necessary finishing kick.
“He ran a great race,” Juline Leparoux said of Enforceable. “There wasn’t really any pace and the winner was on the lead easy. My horse responded when I asked and put in a really good run down the lane. I’m happy with how he ran and look forward to having him go longer in distance.”
Bred in Kentucky by FPF & Highland Ranch, Mr. Monomoy sold initially for $60,000 as a weanling before bringing $202,158 at the Arqana two-year-old sale in France last May. He’s out of the Henny Hughes mare Drumette, a half-sister to Grade 3-winning turf performer Drum Major. Monomoy Girl is a seven-time stakes winner, including five Grade 1s, and the $2.9 million earner counts the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Kentucky Oaks among her major victories.
Mr. Monomoy broke his maiden the second time out at Churchill Downs, and he recorded a head second in an entry-level allowance at Fair Grounds on Dec. 21. The bay colt increased his lifetime earnings to $327,462 with the Risen Star win.