Cox reviewing options for Oaklawn S. champ Home Brew

April 29, 2022

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Trainer Brad Cox has definite next-race plans for his 2021 Oaklawn Stakes winner. Things are a little more fluid for his 2022 champion.

Cox, scheduled to start three horses in the Kentucky Derby, including Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife, already is guaranteed a spot in the second leg of the Triple Crown after Home Brew captured Saturday’s $150,000 Oaklawn Stakes at Oaklawn.

The 7-5 favorite, Home Brew ($4.80) held off Kuchar by 1 ¾ lengths to give Cox his second consecutive victory in the 1 1/8-mile race that was inaugurated in 2019. 

A homebred for Gary and Mary West, Home Brew hadn’t started since finishing a disappointing 10th as the favorite in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes Jan. 1. The 1-mile Smarty Jones, Home Brew’s stakes debut, was Oaklawn’s first of four Kentucky Derby points races.

Home Brew had nine published workouts at Oaklawn since Feb. 19 for his comeback race.

“He was a little light – not a big, robust horse,” Cox said. “He’s a little bit on the smaller side and just kind of thought we would back off him a little bit and get some weight on him. He responded really well. He looks a lot better and I think he’s a horse that’s still developing physically as well.”

Ridden by Jose Ortiz, Home Brew was a stalking fourth on the outside down the backstretch before taking the lead with a three-wide bid turning for home. Home Brew held Kuchar, the early leader, safe through the stretch and completed the distance in 1:50.63 over a fast track.

A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Home Brew was assigned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 84, a career high, following his third victory from five lifetime starts. Home Brew, a front-running entry-level allowance winner at 1 mile Dec. 4 at Oaklawn, has earned $203,625.

Being a Triple Crown nominee, Home Brew earned automatic entry into the Preakness with his Oaklawn Stakes victory. Cox also won the 2021 Oaklawn Stakes with Fulsome, but he wasn’t seriously considered for the Preakness because the races were only two weeks apart. The Oaklawn Stakes was run four weeks before the Preakness, May 21 at Pimlico, this year.

“We’ll think about it,” Cox said. “We’ll see. It’s something we’ll watch. We’ll see what happens with the Kentucky Derby and how he comes out of it and make a decision down the road – bottom line.”

In addition to Cyberknife, Cox also is scheduled to send out devastating Feb. 11 Oaklawn entry-level allowance winner Zozos in the Kentucky Derby May 7 at Churchill Downs. 

Zozos and Fulsome worked together April 22 at Churchill Downs, each credited with 6 furlongs in 1:12.40. Fulsome was breezing for the second time since a last-to-first victory in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses April 2 at Oaklawn. 

Fulsome is targeting the $500,000 Alysheba Stakes (G2) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles May 6 at Churchill Downs, Cox said. 

Fulsome received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 99 – a career high – for his neck victory in the Oaklawn Mile, which marked the 4-year-old debut for the son of super sire Into Mischief. Fulsome ($18.80) covered the mile over fast track in a meet-best 1:36.43. 

“I’ll tell you, he was doing really well,” Cox said. “I was excited about bringing him up here from the Fair Grounds. I thought about the New Orleans Handicap with him. Didn’t really want to run a mile and an eighth off the layoff. Didn’t want to run against Olympiad off the layoff. Not taking anything away from the group (April 2) because I thought it was a very, very good group of horses, but I thought the two-turn mile we would get a setup, and we got a setup. That horse needs a setup. He’s not a horse that’s very tactical or wants to be forwardly placed. He likes to break and kind of find his way around there. If there’s a hot pace, he’s always going to be in contention at the right time.” 

Fulsome added victories in the $150,000 Matt Winn Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs and $300,000 Smarty Jones Stakes (G3) at Parx following last year’s Oaklawn Stakes.

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
Photo: Home Brew and Ricardo Santana Jr. on their way to the winner’s circle after their Oaklawn Stakes victory. (Coady Photography)

Jonathan Stettin is a New York Legend. He's been a Horseplayer, earning his living at the track, since he was 19 years old. @jonathanstettin

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