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Governor’s Stakes one of three for Cox

Though the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew finished fourth in the West Virginia Derby after a troubled start, Cox had another banner day at Mountaineer. As was the case in 2018, Cox won three stakes including the $200,000 Grade III Governor’s Stakes.

All three were ridden by Paco Lopez, who came in from Monmouth Park for five mounts, all trained by Cox.

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Fulsome capped it off with a 1 1/4-length score in the Governor’s Stakes. The 3-year-old Into Mischief colt was sixth but never far back in a bunched field and took over at the top of the stretch.

The time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.48 and the winner paid $3.40.

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Fulsome, a three-time Grade III stakes winner before his first trip to Mountaineer, now has four, and he cleared the $1 million mark in earnings.

“Paco rode a good race,” said Cox assistant Ricky Giannini, who usually handles the duties on West Virginia Derby day. “He didn’t have him too far back even though the horse likes to drop back early. Sometimes when he gets clear he loses focus, but Paco said he didn’t. He’s just a notch below the Grade I-type of horses but he’s very honest and consistent.”

Giannini said several races are on the table for Fulsome — a race at Churchill Downs or the Parx Dirt Mile in September, and the Grade II Fayette Stakes at Keeneland in October.

Cox also won the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards with Adventuring, and the $75,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup for 3-year-olds and up at one mile and 70 yards with Price Talk. Both races were taken off the turf.

Godolphin homebred Adventuring hadn’t raced since December 2021 but had been working regularly at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The 4-year-old

Pioneerof the Nile filly has now won on dirt — fast or wet — turf and the synthetic Tapeta surface.

Price Talk, owned by Gaining Ground Racing, was claimed for $80,000 in June and followed up with a near-miss second in an allowance race at Horseshoe Indianapolis for his new connections. The 5-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding prefers grass but has now won twice on dirt.

“It was a good race off the layoff,” Giannini said of Adventuring’s effort.

“She broke her maiden in an off-the-turf race last year. Paco said she wasn’t flat, but she didn’t accelerate like she has on the turf. We’re looking at a race at Kentucky Downs for her.

“Hopefully there are bigger and better things for (Price Talk). There is a restricted race at Kentucky Downs for him. He has improved a lot since we got him.”

Though four races were transferred to the main track from the turf because of heavy showers in the morning, total pari-mutuel handle on the nine-race Mountaineer program was $2.26 million, up 29.2 percent from 2021.

Fulsome Captures West Virginia Governor’s Stakes, Caps Three Stakes Wins For Cox, Lopez At Mountaineer

Though the Brad Cox-trained Home Brew finished fourth in the West Virginia Derby (G3) after a troubled start, Cox had another banner day Saturday at Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort . As was the case in 2018, Cox won three stakes, including the $200,000 West Virginia Governor’s Stakes (G3).

All three were ridden by Paco Lopez, who came in from Monmouth Park for five mounts, all trained by Cox.

Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Fulsome capped it off with a 1 ¼-length score in the Governor’s Stakes. The 3-year-old Into Mischief colt was sixth but never far back in a bunched field and took over at the top of the stretch. The time for the 1 1/16 miles was 1:43.48 and the winner paid $3.40.

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Fulsome, a three-time Grade 3 stakes winner before his first trip to Mountaineer, now has four, and he cleared the $1 million mark in earnings.

“Paco rode a good race,” said Cox assistant Ricky Giannini, who usually handles the duties on West Virginia Derby day. “He didn’t have him too far back even though the horse likes to drop back early. Sometimes when he gets clear he loses focus, but Paco said he didn’t. He’s just a notch below the Grade 1-type of horses but he’s very honest and consistent.”

Giannini said several races are on the table for Fulsome—a race at Churchill Downs or the Parx Dirt Mile in September, and the Fayette Stakes (G2) at Keeneland in October.

Cox also won the $75,000 West Virginia Senate President’s Cup for fillies and mares at one mile and 70 yards with Adventuring, and the $75,000 West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker’s Cup for 3-year-olds and up at one mile and 70 yards with Price Talk. Both races were taken off the turf.

Godolphin homebred Adventuring hadn’t raced since December 2021 but had been working regularly at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The 4-year-old Pioneerof the Nile filly has now won on dirt—fast or wet—turf and the synthetic Tapeta surface.

Price Talk, owned by Gaining Ground Racing, was claimed for $80,000 in June and followed up with a near-miss second in an allowance race at Horseshoe Indianapolis for his new connections. The 5-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding prefers grass but has now won twice on dirt.

“It was a good race off the layoff,” Giannini said of Adventuring’s effort. “She broke her maiden in an off-the-turf race last year. Paco said she wasn’t flat, but she didn’t accelerate like she has on the turf. We’re looking at a race at Kentucky Downs for her.

“Hopefully there are bigger and better things for (Price Talk). There is a restricted race at Kentucky Downs for him. He has improved a lot since we got him.”

Though four races were transferred to the main track from the turf because of heavy showers in the morning, total pari-mutuel handle on the nine-race Mountaineer program was $2.26 million, up 29.2% from 2021.

Provocateur slips up inside to win Jersey Shore

Midway around the turn in the $108,000 Jersey Shore Stakes pacesetting Defend drifted one path from the rail. Jairo Rendon, riding Provocateur, who was racing just behind the leader, didn’t wait for an invitation. Rendon sent his willing mount into the breach and came out two-length winner on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

“That’s what you have to do when the rail opens like that,” said Rendon, who rode Provocateur and Star Seeking to victory Saturday at Monmouth for trainer Todd Pletcher. “I was ready to go outside, but when the rail opened the way it did, I had to take it.”

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Witty, who got off to a terrible start and was last by many lengths down the backstretch, rallied for second, showing how demanding the pace was in the six-furlong Jersey Shore, which is restricted to 3-year-olds. Speaking, who stalked the pace and pulled a wide trip, finished third as 5-2 favorite Lightening Larry, winner of the Chick Lang last out, pressed the pace and finished fifth.

Provocateur clocked 1:08.81 over a fast track and paid $10.80 to win. Trained by Pletcher for My Racehorse and Spendthrift Farm, Provocateur was coming out of a distant third in the Grade 1 Woody Stephens, won in a rout by Jack Christopher. Earlier this year, Provocateur had captured the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Bred in Kentucky by Kingswood Farm and David Egan, Provocateur is by Into Mischief and out of Cayala, by Cherokee Run.

He’spuregold wins Irish War Cry Handicap again, cruising to victory

OCEANPORT – Trainer Kelly Breen isn’t quite sure what’s next for He’spuregold, but the 4-year-old Jersey-bred appears headed for bigger things and more challenging company.

One race after making his seasonal debut against open company a winning one, He’spuregold followed that up with an impressive two-and-a-half-length victory in the $85,000 Irish War Cry Handicap at Monmouth Park on July 10 – the second straight year the gelded son of Vancouver has won the race for Jersey-breds, according to a press release.

“We will put our heads together and figure out what’s next,” said Breen. “Watching him today, watching him warm up and watching him in the paddock, he was so mature. It was visually impressive. He did everything right before the race and then during the race. I couldn’t be any prouder.”

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Simply put, He’spuregold appears ready for more than just Jersey-bred company. He is now 3 for 3 in Jersey-restricted races and has four wins and a second in five starts over Monmouth Park’s turf course. He was fourth in the Grade 3 Saranac at Saratoga a year ago and may be ready for that type of company again.

The crowd of 12,071 had the 1-mile grass race pegged right, with He’spuregold winning at odds of 7-10 in the nine-horse field and 5-2 second choice Golden Brown launching from far back to get second, a nose ahead of early pacesetter There Are No Words, the only 3-year-old in the field.

The winning time over the firm going was 1:34.15.

The win gave leading rider Paco Lopez four winners on the card and a sweep of the Jersey-bred stakes over the weekend after he won the Jersey Girl Handicap on Saturday aboard Bramble Bay.

“He’s very sharp right now,” said Lopez. “I was in the perfect position. We knew (There Are No Words) would be the speed and he would try to go as long as he could on the front end. I found a nice spot on the rail, third and fourth, but I always had the leader in my sights.

“Coming out of the turn when I asked him he did it so easily. He was moving very well. He gave me a very good kick.”

Owned and bred by John Bowers Jr.’s Roseland Farm, He’spuregold now sports a 4-2-3 line from 12 career starts. Lopez was aboard when he beat open company in an optional $30,000 claimer to kick off the year on May 29 at Monmouth Park.

There Are No Words carved out fractions of :23.98, :47.27 and 1:11.14 for the opening six furlongs, with Lopez finding a spot on the rail not far off the leader.

Wheeling out of the final turn, He’spuregold was tipped outside and went by There Are No Words by mid-stretch. Golden Brown closed for second from far back.

“This was a stellar field,” said Breen. “I was surprised at how low his odds were. Golden Brown is a warrior and you had a couple of young guns coming after us. I didn’t see us as (7-10) the way the public did. He ran well. He ran very professionally.

“It’s always nice when you can run them out of their own stall. He trains here and he was bred 9 miles from here so he’s a Jersey-bred through and through.”

Bramble Bay’s turn of foot too much for I’m Listening in Jersey Girl

Bramble Bay won her second Jersey Girl Handicap, whipping to the lead in upper stretch and beating I’m Listening by 1 1/4 lengths in a turf-route race for older New Jersey-bred fillies and mares on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Bramble Bay, who paid $3 as the odds-on favorite, won the 2020 Jersey Girl and was second, beaten a head, when the race was rained from turf onto dirt last summer. She was coming off two dirt races during this Monmouth meet and clearly appreciated the return to grass for trainer Mike Dini and owner Ballybrit Stable.

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Bramble Bay has speed, but Lopez let stretchout sprinter Roselba go off and lead through a half-mile officially recorded in a fast 45.91 seconds. Monmouth’s leading rider played his strong hand past the quarter pole and Bramble Bay had little trouble overwhelming the leader and opening a clear lead. I’m Listening, who prefers dirt, tried to make a race of it but could not match the winner’s turn of foot. Roselba held third in a game performance. Winning time for one mile on a firm course was 1:36.18. Bramble Bay and I’m Listening were co-highweights, each carrying 123 pounds.

Bramble Bay, a homebred, is a 6-year-old by Bullet Train out of Regal Rose, by Empire Maker. The mare has made a good living on the Monmouth grass course, the $51,000 winner’s share of an $85,000 purse boosting her local grass earnings over $265,000.

One For The Team: Green Up Goes Wire To Wire For First Stakes Win In Boiling Springs at Monmouth Park

With Paco Lopez riding the lone speed horse in a short field the outcome is fairly predictable.

That was the case in Sunday’s $100,000 Boiling Springs Stakes at Monmouth Park, when Team Valor International’s Green Up was able to coast on the front end through soft fractions and then spurted away when asked for a 5¾-length victory.

Sent off as the 3-2 second choice in the four-horse field, Green Up was able to easily rebuff any challenge from 2-5 favorite Radio Days because of the easy fractions in the one-mile and 70-yard feature.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, Green Up earned a free entry and startinng fees to the Monmouth Oaks (G3) on July 31 as a result of the victory. It marked the first stakes win in the four-race career for the 3-year-old Virginia-bred daughter of Upstart out of Green Punch, by Two Punch.

“My thought was just to go to the lead since she looked like the only speed in the race,” said Lopez, seeking his ninth Monmouth Park riding title. “Todd Pletcher told me to do whatever I felt comfortable doing. She jumped a little at the break and didn’t break well but I was able to get to the rail and make the lead pretty easily.

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“I saw Joe Bravo (aboard Radio Days) pressing us at the three-eighths but my filly had too much left. She was very strong after we were able to get away with a slow opening half and she just took off when (Radio Days) came to us.”

Despite an awkward start, Green Up was able to make the lead without a challenge, with Lopez putting her on the rail. She carved out fractions of :24.77, :49.26, and 1:12.53 for six furlongs and was well in hand despite a compact field and mild pressure. The mile went in 1:37.79.

Green Up’s winning time was 1:40.93 on a fast track. She returned $5.

“She just shipped in this morning from Saratoga,” said Anthony Sciametta, who oversees Pletcher’s division at Monmouth Park. “That’s where she has been working. Todd said when they scratched out a couple of horses if Paco Lopez wants the lead he should take it because there’s no other speed in the race.

“She broke badly, seemed to stumble a little, but she still made the lead easily. She’s a nice filly. Even if the field had stayed intact she would have been very tough to beat. Todd will make the decision on whether she goes to the Monmouth Oaks or not.”

Radio Days finished three lengths ahead of Capotainsdaughter in third.

Since being moved to the Pletcher barn (from Chris Melton) after finishing second in her career debut at Gulfstream Park on May 13, 2021, Green Up has won all three subsequent starts by a combined 16½ lengths, including a 6 3/4-length wire-to-wire romp in March at the Hallandale Beach, Florida, track to break her maiden. Stepping up to allowance/optional claiming company there, she won by four lengths April 21.

“Both of her Florida (wins) were impressive,” said Sciametta. “I’m sure Todd will look at the Monmouth Oaks, but he is the one who will make the decision.”

Edie Meeny Miny Mo wins Regret, gives trainer Michelle Hemingway her first stakes victory

Edie Meeny Miny Mo scored the first stakes win for herself and trainer Michelle Hemingway in the $100,000 Regret on Saturday at Monmouth Park.

Breaking on the lead in the six-furlong race under Paco Lopez, Edie Meeny Miny Mo set splits of 22.29 and 44.44 over a fast-playing Monmouth dirt track, and turned back a strong bid from narrowly favored Club Car to win by a head. Edie Meeny Miny Mo stopped the timer in 1:08.71 for six furlongs and paid $5.20 as the second choice.

Hemingway began training on her own the second half of 2021 and now has more than 30 horses stabled at Monmouth. Her first stakes winner came with her third stakes runner.

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“There are no words to express the gratitude I feel right now,” said Hemingway, who trains Edie Meeny Miny Mo for Holly Hill Stables.

Edie Meeny Miny Mo made a minor splash winning her second start, a first-level allowance sprint at Laurel last June 13, with a 91 Beyer Speed Figure. She didn’t quite stay two turns in the Monmouth Oaks, ran flat when turned back to a sprint in the Prioress last September at Saratoga, and had moved into Hemingway’s barn when she returned to racing in April at Tampa Bay Downs. Hemingway said an odds-on allowance race loss there didn’t trouble her since Edie Meeny Miny Mo was being geared up for a summer campaign, and after winning a second-level Monmouth allowance race the filly landed her first stakes in the Regret.

It took some work. Club Car, older, more experienced, and faster to date, made a sharp three-wide move around the far turn and had all the momentum into the homestretch, but Lopez had saved something and Edie Meeny Miny Mo just did hold Club Car at Bay.

“The main thing now is getting her confidence back and she did that today,” said Hemingway. “She’s a class filly. She has shown she can do this in the mornings. I’m glad it translated into the afternoon.”

Edie Meeny Miny Mo, bred in Maryland by Dark Hollow Farm, is by Upstart out of Plum, by Pure Prize.

Home Brew Proves Too Strong in Pegasus

A year after winning TVG.com Pegasus Stakes with Juddmonte’s Mandaloun , trainer Brad Cox was again victorious June 18 with Gary and Mary West’s Home Brew —though this time without Florent Geroux, one of his go-to riders.

With Geroux hung up by travel issues trying to make it to New Jersey from his Kentucky base, the jockey missed an opportunity to ride at Monmouth Park Saturday, but Paco Lopez proved a capable replacement on a much-the-best Home Brew.

Stalking the early pace in third, the Street Sense colt pounced on the second turn under Lopez, drawing away for a 6 1/4-length victory over favored Electability to finish 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.20. Pacesetting Cyberviking was third.

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“I heard (Geroux) had some travel issues and couldn’t get here so I found out about two or three hours before the race that I would be riding this horse,” said Lopez. “It’s always nice to pick up a mount like this for a trainer like Brad Cox.

“The trip was perfect. They said he would rate, that he did not have to be on the lead, and he was so comfortable watching those two in front of us duel. When I asked him he just went. This is a very nice horse.”

Dash Attack , one of the morning-line favorites, was scratched, as was Noneedtoworry . Those scratches reduced the field to seven 3-year-olds.

The Pegasus, the final local prep for the $1 million TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes (G1) July 23 at Monmouth, was the second stakes victory for Home Brew ($5), who won the Oaklawn Stakes April 23 in Arkansas. He had not raced since.

“We weren’t all that concerned with the layoff,” said Blake Cox, son and assistant to trainer Brad Cox. “We just didn’t know where to go with him. He was still in a steady work pattern and doing well and we just didn’t have a spot for him and this race fell into play.”

Last year Mandaloun later won the Haskell upon the disqualification of Hot Rod Charlie for interference.

In addition to Home Brew, grade 1 winner Cyberknife is another Cox-trained candidate for the Haskell, a race that could also draw the unbeaten Jack Christopher for trainer Chad Brown.

“We have to see where we are. We’ve had good luck in the Haskell so we’ll see,” Black Cox said.

Home Brew improved to 4-1-0 in six starts and elevated his earnings to $293,625 for the Wests, who bred him in Kentucky out of the winning Tapit mare Omnitap . Of her five winning foals, Air Strike is also a black-type winner, having taken the 2019 Triple Bend Stakes (G2). The dam’s youngest foal is a 2-year-old full brother to Home Brew.

Jockey Lopez wins 1st 5 races Sunday at Monmouth Park

Jockey Paco Lopez started Sunday’s action at Monmouth Park by winning the first five races on the card.

Lopez’s first victory came aboard Free to Fly in a starter optional claiming race. He followed that with scores aboard Be Better in a maiden special weight event, R Love On the Run and Call Bros in a pair of claiming races, and then Edie Meeny Miny Mo in allowance optional claiming flight.

An all-Lopez early Pick 5 returned $14.40 for 50 cents.

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Lopez’s first loss of the day came in the seventh race, as he finished second in a claiming race on Like What I See. He was then seventh in the eighth race, the Smart N Classy Handicap, with mount Bramble Bay, and off the board in the nightcap, a maiden claiming event, on Le Coste.

Lopez holds the single-day Monmouth Park record of seven wins which he has done three times, most recently Aug. 28.

For the year, Lopez sports a 483: 82-71-84 record with $3.43 million earned. His 17 wins during the current Monmouth meet are six more than the 11 races won by both Samy Camacho and Isaac Castillo.

Miles Ahead Turns Back Drain the Clock in GP Sprint

Miles Ahead only beat heavily favored Drain the Clock by a neck in the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Sprint Stakes Feb. 19 at Gulfstream Park, but trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. had complete confidence that the vastly improved 5-year-old would be up to the task.

“He’s just gotten better and better. Each race, he just seems to go forward,” said Plesa, who trains the Competitive Edge gelding for his wife Laurie, David Melin, and Leon Ellman. “I felt real confident going into this race that it was going to take an exceptional effort by somebody to beat him.”

Miles Ahead, the 3-1 second choice who captured the Smile Sprint Invitational Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream last July, ran six furlongs in 1:08.88 on a fast track to capture his third straight race of the 2021-22 championship meet.

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Drain the Clock, a grade 1 winner coming off a sharp victory in a Dec. 10 optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream, was sent to post as the 3-5 favorite in a field of five. The Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained 4-year-old broke sharply but was eased off the pace by Irad Ortiz Jr. as Francatelli and Gatsby dueled to his inside along the backstretch and Miles Ahead bided his time in fourth. The opening quarter-mile was run in :21.96 while the half went in :44.72. Drain the Clock moved three wide around the pacesetters to take a lead into the stretch with Miles Ahead in hot pursuit. The favorite kicked in through the stretch while drifting out late, but Miles Ahead would not be denied under Paco Lopez.

Drain the Clock, who won the Woody Stephens Stakes Presented by Nassau County Industrial Developmental Agency (G1) at Belmont Park last season, finished 4 1/4 lengths clear of multiple graded stakes winner Diamond Oops , who finished third after lagging off the early pace.

The winner returned $8.20 on a $2 win ticket.

Drain the Clock had won four of five previous starts at Gulfstream, his only loss coming in a second-place finish in last year’s 1 1/16-mile Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2). The Kentucky-bred colt, who won the six-furlong Limehouse Stakes and seven-furlong Claiborne Farm Swale Stakes (G3) prior to the Fountain of Youth, went on to win the Bay Shore Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct Racetrack and the Woody Stephens.

Plesa said he had no firm next-out plans for Miles Ahead, who won for the 11th time during a 21-race career and has earned $435,725.

“He’s found his niche and we’re taking advantage of it. Who knows what the future holds, but it makes you think about a lot of things,” Plesa said.

Bred in Kentucky by Nicholas M. Lotz and Betsy Kelley out of the stakes-winning, graded stakes-placed Awesome Again mare Jennie R. , Miles Ahead was a $175,000 purchase by his current connections from Top Line Sales’ consignment to the Ocala Breeders’ Sales March Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training in 2019. He graduated the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $120,000 when purchased by Billy Williams from the consignment of James B. Keogh.

Miles Ahead is the first graded stakes winner out of Jennie R., whose four starters have all been winners. She is also the dam of black-type winner La Grange (by Curlin ).

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