Cox's Deep Bench of Kentucky Derby Prospects Expands

Cox’s Deep Bench of Kentucky Derby Prospects Expands

Coach Brad Cox plots the next moves for some of his army of 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby (G1) track.

Cox’s prospect list grew on Jan. 1 when he dispatched the 1-2 finishers in the $250,000 Smarty Jones Stakes, Oaklawn Parkis the first of four Kentucky Derby points races. Strongly favored victory formation co-owned by prominent North Little Rock, Ark., businessman Frank Fletcher and Spendthrift Farm, went undefeated with a three-length victory over Empire Angel . Victory Formation (3 for 3) made their debut and debut in two rounds.

“He’s a pretty smart horse,” Cox said during practice hours Jan. 2 in Oaklawn. “I know I’ve said it many times, but it’s really true. He’s a horse that doesn’t overdo it. He’s not too hard on himself, and I think that going to take him far and hopefully allow him to get more ground and obviously have a long racing career.”

Cox said Victory Formation appeared to leave the Smarty Jones in good physical shape, adding that plans for the next race were on hold for the son of the 2017 Belmont Stakes (G1) winner. Tapwrite . Cox said Victory Formation should soon return to Fair Grounds race course and slot machineswhere he was based this winter.

Oaklawn’s Kentucky Derby points streak continues with the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on January 28, $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on February 25 and the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles on April 1. Cox said “it’s too early” to say whether Victory Formation will return to Oaklawn for any more Kentucky Derby points races, particularly the Arkansas Derby, a race Fletcher covets most.

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“I’m well aware that Frank would like to win the Arkansas Derby, but we’ll do what’s best for the horse and see if he takes us there,” Cox said.

Cox said plans for the next race are also on hold for Angel of Empire, which raced twice last month at Oaklawn before the Smarty Jones. Angel of the Empire, by Classic Empire already has two victories around two laps to Indianapolis Horseshoe. He ran his fastest race going up in class this weekend.

“I think the more ground the better for him,” Cox said.

Victory Formation earned 10 points for starting Kentucky Derby eligibility for their Smarty Jones win. Angel of Empire received four points. Based on official rankings of Churchill Falls, Cox has six of the top 15 horses in the latest Kentucky Derby standings—No. 4 Jace’s Road (13 points), No. 5 Instant coffee (12), Victory Formation #6 (10), #11 Connections (four), No. 12 Verification (four) and No. 15 Angel of Empire (four).

Cox also trains unbeaten crown bolt (by Bolt d’Oro ), big winner of the $100,000 six-stage Sugar Bowl Stakes on Dec. 26 at Fair Grounds; giant mischief (in mischief ), runner-up in the $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile Stakes on Dec. 17 at Remington Park; Tap View (candy tower ), a one-mile sharp entry-level allowance winner on Dec. 17 at Oaklawn; The conquest of Tapit (Carpet ), who snapped her maiden at 1 1/16 miles on October 1 at Churchill Downs; and Upholstery Shoes (Tapit), who broke her maiden at 1 1/16 miles on December 3 at Fair Grounds.

Photo: Coady Photography

Brad Cox at Oaklawn Park

Cox said he plans to launch Corona Bolt, Hit Show and possibly Jace’s Road in the Southwest. Giant Mischief, Cox said, points to the rebel.

Cox, the two-time Eclipse Award-winning reigning coach, won the 2021 Kentucky Derby (by disqualification) with Mandaloon and the 2021 Belmont Stakes with the champion Essential Quality . The latter launched his 3-year-old campaign by winning the South West.

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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