Pivet Moon sets Ellis Park record, adding to fast starts for Cox, Geroux
HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - Trainer Brad Cox last year won his third Ellis Park trainer’s title in a tie with Kenny McPeek at 10 wins apiece. Now Cox, the reigning Eclipse Award winner as North America’s outstanding trainer, has already won a meet-leading six races — from 12 races and 13 starters — only six days into the 29-date RUNHAPPY Meet at Ellis Park.
Win No. 6 came in Friday’s fifth race, the $53,000 second-level allowance feature for 3-year-olds, where Juddmonte Farms’ Privet Moon nipped Flags Up by a head. In the process, Privet Moon set the track record, bulling seven-eighths of a mile in 1:20.69 under Florent Geroux. The old mark of 1:21.17 was set last August by the Cox-trained, Geroux-ridden Mundaye Call in the Audubon Oaks.
“It’s been a good meet,” Cox said by phone. “We really like Ellis. It plays a big role in the development of a lot of our young horses, not just getting them started but training. I always look forward to it. Solid purse money. Good competition. It’s something we try to utilize.
“Hopefully we can keep it rolling.”
Geroux now has won five of 11 starts, with a second and third, to tie Brian Hernandez Jr. for the most victories, even with Geroux missing two days last week to ride stakes out of town.
“When you ride for a top trainer in the country, it’s always easier to add wins,” he said. “When you ride for Brad, it’s a big help. I’m very thankful for the opportunity he has given me, and his owners. Hopefully we can just keep adding wins. I have trips lined up out of town pretty much every weekend, so there will be a lot of travel for me. But I’m happy to come back here all the time. This is a track I like. I think it’s a great track for horses, and I’m excited about what’s coming up this summer.
“We have a lot of ‘babies,’ too. That’s a reason why I’m staying here. I believe Brad has over a hundred 2-year-olds here in Kentucky, so it gives me good access to work them in the morning. Even if they don’t run here, they could run at Churchill Downs in September. So it’s nice to have a great feel for those horses.”
Privet Moon and Flags Up battled throughout the race, with Flags Up sticking his head in front in mid-stretch. The fractions over the fast track were 22.69, 44.99 and 1:08.32.
“The track seems pretty fast right now,”Geroux said. “But he ran a great race. Very pleased with his effort. He broke very sharply today, put me a great spot and was very tenacious down the lane. He showed a lot of grit and courage.”
“He’s a game little horse,” Cox said. “He was a stakes-winner from last year and we gave him some time over the winter. His first race back, we don’t know what happened. He broke in a tangle and was hopping up and down the first part of it. He bounced out of it well. I was proud of this effort. He fought hard to battle back and beat that horse.”
It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Scarred. Cox also ran He’smyhoneybadger in the race, with that colt finishing fourth as the 5-2 favorite. Another well-fancied horse was Sittin On Go, winner last year of an Ellis Park maiden race and Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Iroquois. Sittin On Go, racing in blinkers for the first time as he sought to end an eight-race losing streak since the Iroquois, was in contention early but faded to last.
Privet Moon paid $17.60 to win in the field of six, the longest shot on the board outside of 10-1 Flags Up. If that seems like a stout price on a horse from the Cox barn, the trainer said with a laugh, “That’s what happens when you get away really, really bad.”
As Cox said, that’s what happened when Privet Moon was drilled in a Churchill Downs allowance race on May 22 after the unfortunate start. Last year the Malibu Moon colt won impressively at Indiana Grand in his second start, following that up with victory in Delta Downs’ $100,000 Jean Lafitte Stakes.
“He’s still lightly raced,” Cox said. “He’s a nice-looking horse, real strong-looking horse. He showed a lot of heart and determination today.”
Courtesy: Ellis Park
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