Returning to the site of her greatest triumphs, Monomoy Girl continued a remarkable career renaissance with a confident triumph in Friday’s $500,000 La Troienne (G1) on Kentucky Oaks day at Churchill Downs.
The occasion was a fitting one for the 5-year-old daughter of Tapizar. Two years ago, Monomoy Girl won in the 2018 Kentucky Oaks during a near-perfect championship season, and she later reiterated her affinity for Churchill by adding the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to her glowing resume.
Monomoy Girl’s return to Grade 1 company has been a long journey. She missed the entire 2019 season after battling first with colic and then with a pulled muscle. But under the patient care of trainer Brad Cox, Monomoy Girl has scripted a impressive comeback in 2020, winning an allowance and the Ruffian (G2) prior to her success in the La Troienne.
“She gave us every indication in the morning that she was back at a top level,” remarked her regular rider, Florent Geroux. “There is no doubt she is a champion horse and definitely a horse of a lifetime.”
Favored at 2-5 while facing seven rivals in the 1 1/16-mile La Troienne, Monomoy Girl was strong from start to finish. Breaking a bit flatfooted from post 8, the chestnut mare was forced wide around the first turn as slow-starting Risky Mandate rushed up between horses to press pacesetter Lady Kate through quick splits of :23.43, :46.26, and 1:10.48. But Geroux was patient and allowed Monomoy Girl to find her best stride.
“There was a little bit of congestion going into the first turn, but I had a nice outside post. I was never worried,” said Geroux. “I was on the best horse and we had a great trip. I just had to push the button when she was ready.”
Monomoy Girl ultimately settled into a comfortable spot racing third, as many as 4 1/2 lengths behind the early leaders. But as the field traveled around the far turn, the favorite advanced boldly into contention, looming up alongside Lady Kate as Risky Mandate faded from the picture.
The longtime leader proved stubborn down the homestretch, but Monomoy Girl always had her measured, gradually edging clear to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:42.14. Lady Kate pulled 2 3/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Horologist, while Saracosa, Vexatious, She’s a Julie, With Dignity, and Risky Mandate completed the order of finish in a strung-out field.
“She’s the only horse I get nervous running. Once I leg up Florent it’s 10 minutes of anxiety,” remarked Cox. “He did have to work on her a little bit to clear off from Lady Kate. She’s a true champion and is able to overcome a four-wide trip into the first turn. She’s the horse of a lifetime. The way she’s trained since the spring, since April, is when she took off.”
Bred in Kentucky by FPF and Highfield Ranch, Monomoy Girl races for the partnership of Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables. Produced by the Henny Hughes mare Drumette, also the dam of one-time 2020 Kentucky Derby candidate Mr. Monomoy, Monomoy Girl has earned $3,386,818 while compiling an impressive 14-12-2-0 record.
Having picked up right where she left off two years ago, Monomoy Girl has emerged as a serious threat to reclaim her title in the Nov. 7 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) at Keeneland. There aren’t any “comeback of the year” awards in horse racing, but if there were, you can bet Monomoy Girl would be odds-on to win the title.