Cox, Saez head into Kentucky Downs off huge Spa meets

August 30, 2021

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021) — There is some business to attend to Saratoga Race Course this week, but Travers-winning trainer Brad Cox and jockey Luis Saez are headed to Kentucky Downs for the upcoming meet.

Cox, a familiar face at Kentucky Downs, saddled champion Essential Quality for his victory in the 152nd Travers Stakes Saturday. The 41-year-old Louisville native, who won the 2020 Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer, will be well-represented during Kentucky Downs’ race meet spanning Sept. 5, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12.

“The first day I think we may have Godolphin’s filly Adventuring in the Dueling Grounds Oaks and maybe Royal Prince in the Derby to start things off,” Cox said Sunday morning in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Brad Cox at Saratoga. Photo by Mike Kane

Adventuring, a daughter of champion filly Questing, was third at Ellis Park in the Kentucky Downs TVG Preview Dueling Grounds Oaks. She won the Bourbonette in March at Turfway Park. Royal Prince, owned by Steve Landers Racing, is a son of Cairo Prince. He has two stakes wins and has been stakes-placed three times in his 10-race career.

On Sunday morning, after discussing Essential Quality’s win over Midnight Bourbon in the $1.25 million, RUNHAPPY Travers (G1), Cox said that Kentucky Downs and Saratoga Race Course share some positive similarities.

“It kind of has that carnival feel that I think that you have here at Saratoga,” said Cox, whose $19.78 million in purse earnings this season ranks second behind only Steve Asmussen’s $20,157,464. “It’s a nice set-up. It’s pretty neat. It’s different. I think that’s what makes Saratoga so nice. Kentucky Downs is kind of its own thing, but it’s very lucrative, which would be one word…. It’s fun. It’s different, in a good way.”

Saez’s win in Saratoga’s signature race was his 57th of the meet, and another high point in an outstanding season and will help him in his quest to win his first Saratoga riding title. He is scheduled to head to Franklin, Ky., when the Saratoga season concludes on Sept. 6 and will ride the final four days at Kentucky Downs.

Through the years, Saez has ridden at Kentucky Downs on a limited basis. In 2018 he was in for two days and won the Dueling Grounds Derby on Channel Cat. In 2019, he rode nine races in his lone day at the track. Last year, he had two seconds on four mounts.

Former trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, who is Saez’s agent, said Sunday that his client is available for business at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs.

“It’s a weird meet because people enter from everywhere and don’t get into some races,” McLaughlin said. “We have some stakes business, but I have to get to work on it. I’ve been working here hard at this meet and I have to work on that, too. We have some calls for there.”

As an aside, the Asmussen-trained Midnight Bourbon is owned by Ron Winchell, the co-owner and co-managing partner of Kentucky Downs.

Kentucky Downs Press Release

Photo: Channel Cat winning the 2018 Dueling Grounds Derby under Luis Saez. (Reed Palmer/Kentucky Downs photo)

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