Brad Cox. Coady Photography
Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Trainer Brad Cox continued his march toward 2,000 career victories after winning two races Saturday at Oaklawn, including the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares with favored A Mo Reay.
“Good day,” Jorgito Abrego, Cox’s Oaklawn-based assistant, said Sunday morning.
The double pushed Cox’s career victory total to 1,990, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. In addition to the Bayakoa, Cox won Saturday’s second raced with favored Family Tradition ($4.20).
A Mo Reay, under a ground-saving ride from Florent Geroux, collared a stubborn front-runner, Lovely Ride, in the final sixteenth of a mile to win the Bayakoa by a half-length. The winning time over a fast track was 1:45.07.
A Mo Reay ($6.20) is perfect in two starts for Cox, who was honored with an Eclipse Award as the country’s outstanding trainer in 2020 and 2021.
A 4-year-old daughter of super sire Uncle Mo, A Mo Reay was moved to Cox’s barn after being purchased for $400,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale in November. A Mo Reay, who was entered in the sale as a racing/broodmare prospect, was previously with Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. She now races for Kentucky-based Hunter Valley Farm (Fergus Galvin).
In her first start for Cox, A Mo Reay won the $100,000 off-the-turf Pago Hop Stakes at 1 mile and 70 yards Dec. 31 at Fair Grounds. Cox said the Bayakoa – his 150th career graded stakes victory – was important because it enhanced A Mo Reay’s broodmare value.
“She’s nice,” Cox said by phone following the Bayakoa. “She’s been training really, really well. We liked her, obviously, in her last run at Fair Grounds. It obviously came off the turf. We were hoping it would. She stepped up and showed up (Saturday). She’s Grade 1 placed, but it was it was big to get the graded win with her.”
A Mo Reay won for the fourth time in 11 lifetime starts to increase her earnings to $392,650. She is a two-time stakes winner. A Mo Reay also finished third in the $400,000 Frizette (G1) for 2-year-old fillies in October 2021 at Belmont Park.
Cox said next-race plans are pending for A Mo Reay, but it’s “very possible” said he could run again at the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting. Oaklawn’s two-turn stakes series for older fillies and mares continues with the $350,000 Azeri (G2) March 11 and the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 15. Both races are 1 1/16 miles.
“I think that we’ll march forward with her,” Cox said.
The Bayakoa was Cox’s 30th career Oaklawn stakes victory and 274th overall in Hot Springs. Only 15 trainers in Oaklawn history have reached 300 career victories, the last being Robertino Diodoro Jan. 21. Cox was Oaklawn’s third-leading trainer last season with 31 victories and was 9 for 42, through Saturday, at the 2022-2023 meeting.
Cox saddled his first Oaklawn winner Feb. 5, 2009. His first career victory was Dec. 4, 2004, at Turfway Park with One Lucky Storm, who was racing for a $30,000 claiming tag. Almost two decades later, Cox, 42, continues to quickly build a Hall of Fame resume. His career has exploded in the last decade, with Eclipse Award winners like 2021 Horse of the Year Knicks Go and Monomoy Girl, the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2018 and older dirt female of 2020.
“It (time) does fly by, but it’s been good,” Cox said. “We’ve had a great run. A lot of our overall success has a lot to do with making that jump, leaving Kentucky in the winter and coming to Oaklawn. That really kick-started this whole thing for us. And, obviously, we’ve had great owners and great help and great horses.”
A Mo Reay marked Cox’s third Bayakoa victory. He also won the race in 2016 with Call Pat and in 2021 with Monomoy Girl.
Cox has one horse entered Friday at Oaklawn and said he plans to run Key of Life in its $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters Feb. 11. Cox said he will have at least two starters (Verifying and Giant Mischief) in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) Feb. 25. The 1 1/16-mile Rebel is Oaklawn’s third of four Kentucky Derby points race.
“I don’t know if that’s it right now, but those are the two that we’re definitely pointing for it,” Cox said. “We’ll just kind of see how everything else falls into place over the next week or so.”
Cox has won four of Oaklawn’s last 10 Kentucky Derby points races, including the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1 with unbeaten Victory Formation.