May 30, 2023

Monomoy Girl towers over Ruffian rivals

Monomoy Girl
Monomoy Girl returned from a lengthy layoff with a sharp allowance score at Churchill Downs (Coady Photography)

Monomoy Girl will make her second start back from a lengthy layoff, and first stakes appearance since winning the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), when she lines up for Saturday’s $150,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park. She will be an odds-on favorite and there is no show wagering in the five-horse field.

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, Monomoy Girl finished first in all seven starts in 2018 (disqualified and placed second in lone setback) and earned champion 3-year-old filly honors. The chestnut daughter of Tapizar posted a convincing allowance win at Churchill Downs on May 16 when making a much-anticipated return from an 18 1/2-month hiatus. Midnight Bisou is the current queen of the distaff division, but Monomoy Girl finished ahead of her rival in all three previous meetings and horse racing enthusiasts look forward to a future matchup between the champions.

Other runners in the one-mile Ruffian include Grade 2 winner Always Shopping. Fourth in the grassy Treasure Coast S. at Gulfstream last out, the Todd Pletcher trainee is eligible to appreciate the return to the main track, and Eric Cancel is scheduled to pick up the mount on the 4-year-old. Always Shopping is cross-entered to Saturday’s Delaware H. (G2).

Multiple stakes queen Mother Mother will make her third start back from a layoff for Bob Baffert, but she must improve upon a fourth in the June 5 Harmony Lodge S. Manny Franco will be up. Piedi Bianchi captured the Correction S. at Aqueduct two back and will add blinkers following a disappointing sixth in the Harmony Lodge. Grade 3 turf scorer Vexatious, who is also cross-entered to the Delaware H., completes the field.