Monomoy Girl survives odds to win Kentucky Oaks

Lousiville, Kentucky: Monomoy Girl overcame the feared outside post, a stubborn rival in Wonder Gadot and an objection by Gadot’s jockey to win the $1-million Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday.

Johnny Velazquez filed a post-race objection for what appeared to be a gentle bump his horse suffered in the home stretch, but the stewards were not impressed and sided with Monomoy Girl, a 2-1 favourite.

The winner broke from the No. 14 post in the 14-horse field under jockey Florent Geroux to win the American Classic and join a long list of great winners’ of the race.

Prior to the race, trainer Brad Cox was not moved after Monomoy Girl drew the outside post, saying “it is what it is.”

“That’s horse racing,” he said. “She’s obviously a good filly and good horses overcome things.”

Monomoy Girl did just that, bursting out of the gates and finding a position behind the leaders. On the first turn, Geroux settled his filly in behind leader Take Charge Paula and on the outside of Sassy Sienna.

Entering the far turn, Monomoy Girl went into the lead on the outside only to be pursed strongly by Wonder Gadot. As Velazquez and Geroux drew close, they fought tooth and nail.

Owned by Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables, Monomoy Girl claimed her second consecutive Grade 1 victory and now has six wins and one second in seven career starts.

“This is an unbelievable feeling,” said Geroux, who was winning a maiden Oaks.

“The filly was sharp early and I just hustled her out of the gate to get a good position. From there I was pretty confident, but when I hit the quarter pole, her ears were flopping back and forth and she tried putting the brakes on me until she saw Wonder Gadot.

“When the other filly got head to head, I gave her a few slaps to keep her interested, but she can be quirky. You can get after her too much and she stops. I kept hand riding her and she pulled away at the end.”

Midnight Bisou, who started from stall No. 10 with 5/2 odds, ran on to take third in a photo finish with Eskimo Kisses.

Rayya, winner of the UAE Oaks at Meydan earlier this year, missed the start and was always playing catch-up under jockey Drayden Van Dyke. In a fast-run race, she finished 14th of 15.

Rayya is trained by Bob Baffert for Ajman’s Shaikh Rashid Bin Humaid Al Nuaimi.