Proxy after his Monmouth Cup (G3) victory July 22 (Ryan Denver/EQUI-PHOTO)
NYRA Press Office
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.— Trainer Michael Stidham expressed a strong sense of pride in Godolphin’s homebred Proxy who, despite lacking racing room down the backstretch, was able to launch a strong stretch drive to come up a nose shy of victory in Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Jockey Club Gold Cup going 10 furlongs at Saratoga. The gutsy effort garnered a 103 Beyer Speed Figure.
Proxy, a son of multiple Champion-producing sire Tapit, added to a consistent record during his 5-year-old season which includes victories in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap in April and the Grade 3 Monmouth Cup in July. His lone off-the-board efforts this season took place in the Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup in January at Gulfstream Park [fifth] and the Grade 1 Stephen Foster on July 1 at Ellis Park [eighth], where he drew the rail both times. Proxy also drew post 1 in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.
“The one-hole has been a huge detriment to us all year long,” Stidham noted. “If you look at his only bad races, they were both from the one-hole in the Pegasus and the Stephen Foster. When I saw we drew the one hole again here, it was very depressing, but he did overcome a lot of it yesterday and almost won in spite of it.”
Nevertheless, Stidham couldn’t be happier with his talented horse’s effort and said the performance was worthy enough to try the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Classic on November 4 at Santa Anita Park.
“He certainly stamped himself in that top group to go to the Breeders’ Cup,” Stidham said. “I would say right now, we’re looking at just going straight to the Breeders’ Cup.”
Prior to the Jockey Club Gold Cup, Proxy’s lone 10 furlong start took place in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March, where he made up eighth lengths to finish second beaten a neck to Stilleto Boy.
“The mile and a quarter definitely helps him,” Stidham said. “He just came up short both times. It’s right in his wheelhouse. We’ll see how it sets up, but we just hope we don’t draw the one hole again.”
Proxy’s strong run of form is nothing new. As a 3-year-old, he finished second in Fair Grounds Race Course’s Grade 3 Lecomte and Grade 2 Risen Star. He returned as a 4-year-old to post a 6-2-2-2 record, including a triumph at the end of the year in the Grade 1 Clark at Churchill Downs.
“As trainers, we are all striving to get to the very highest level,” Stidham said. “A horse that’s been able to do the right things since he was a 2-year-old is still around at the top level as a 5-year-old is what we all dream about getting to in the industry. I couldn’t be happier or prouder of the horse. The whole situation is a dream come true.”
Stidham and Godolphin have teamed up to campaign a number of graded stakes winners, most notably Mystic Guide, who captured the Group 1 Dubai World Cup in March 2021, as well as Proxy’s older half-sister Micheline – a graded stakes winner on grass.
“It makes my job easier because Godolphin allows us as the trainer to do the right things for the horse,” Stidham said. “That’s what’s so important in this business: putting the horse first. When you do that, it pays dividends like it is right now with Proxy. We had the same program with Mystic Guide. The patience paid off and it took us to the Dubai World Cup and we won a $12 million race because of it.”
Proxy, out of the Grade 1-winning Include mare Panty Raid, now boasts an overall record of 9-6-7-2 with $2,224,970 in earnings.