Monomoy Girl Looms Large in Sunday’s Bayakoa Stakes
HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021) – If Monomoy Girl were a boy and a prospect for the 2015 NFL Draft, the evaluation probably wouldn’t have been overly flattering.
Monomoy Girl was by Tapizar, not Tapit, purchased at the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale for $100,000 not $1 million and debuted on the grass in September 2017 at Indiana Grand, not Saratoga.
But her story mirrors that quarterback from the University of Michigan, deemed too skinny and slow to make it big in the NFL. Tom Brady was a sixth-round selection in 2000, the 199th player overall, and the seventh quarterback taken. Brady, 43, recently won his seventh Super Bowl and now has more rings than any NFL franchise.
Like Brady, Monomoy Girl’s draft grade would call for a total rewrite for scouts, too. She’s a two-time Eclipse Award winner, two-time Breeders’ Cup champion and destined for enshrinement in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame.
Measurables, in both cases, were meaningless.
“I think that’s a fair assessment,” said Brad Cox, who has trained Monomoy Girl throughout her nearly flawless career. “There’s not another one like her, as far as how she came up and transferred to the dirt. She’s a special horse.”
Monomoy Girl will begin authoring another chapter, possibly the final chapter, in her brilliant racing career Sunday at Oaklawn when she makes her 6-year-old debut in the $250,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles. Probable post time for the Bayakoa, which goes as the ninth of 10 races, is 5:11 p.m. (Central). Racing begins at 1 p.m.
The projected six-horse Bayakoa field from the rail out: Chance to Shine, Ken Tohill to ride, 115 pounds, 12-1 on the morning line; Another Broad, Joel Rosario, 115, 6-1; Finite, Ricardo Santana Jr., 119, 9-5; Istan Council, Joe Talamo, 115, 6-1; Our Super Freak, David Cohen, 115, 6-1; and Monomoy Girl, Florent Geroux, 119, even money.
Two other stakes are on Sunday’s card, the $150,000 Dixie Belle for 3-year-old filly sprinters and the $150,000 Downthedustyroad for female Arkansas-bred sprinters.
Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen and owners Alex and JoAnn Lieblong of Conway, Ark., have the program favorites in both races – unbeaten Abrogate (5-2) in the Dixie Belle and multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Bye Bye J (3-1) in the Downthedustyroad.
But Sunday’s unquestioned headliner is Monomoy Girl, among the most accomplished horses ever entered at Oaklawn.
Monomoy Girl has a 13-2-0 record from 15 lifetime starts and earnings of $4,426,818. One of her losses was a disqualification (stretch interference in the 2018 Cotillion), the other also self-inflicted (lugged in and out late and beaten a neck in the 2017 Golden Rod). Seven victories have come in Grade 1 company, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff (2018 and 2020) and the $1 million Kentucky Oaks in 2018 at Churchill Downs. She has won at six tracks. She won her first two career starts on turf before switching, ultra-successfully, to dirt.
Monomoy Girl was the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2018 and after missing 2019 because of injury and illness was crowned champion older dirt female of 2020. She was unbeaten in four races last year, including the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Distaff Nov. 7 at Keeneland in her last start.
“To me, she’s one of the best fillies that’s ever lived,” said bloodstock agent Liz Crow, who selected and purchased Monomoy Girl for her original owner, Sol Kumin. “I know that maybe sounds a little aggressive, but she did win the Breeders’ Cup twice and she’s one of only three fillies, I think, or four fillies to ever do that. She’s the only filly in history to win the five Grade 1s she won as a 3-year-old, the Oaks, the Ashland, the Acorn, the Coaching Club and the Breeders’ Cup. To me, she’s done it all. She’s really answered all the questions, and she deserves to be a Hall of Famer, I think, one day.”
The Bayakoa will mark Monomoy Girl’s first start in Hot Springs. Cox said he’s using the race as a prep for the $1 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 17 at Oaklawn. Monomoy Girl had been under consideration for the Apple Blossom, among the country’s signature two-turn events for older fillies and mares, in 2019 before being derailed and was “very, very close” to making her 2020 comeback, Cox said, in a late-season allowance race at Oaklawn. Instead, it came in mid-May at Churchill Downs.
“When we brought her back in the allowance race at Churchill, that was a lot of pressure, having been off 18 months, whatever it was,” Cox said. “Here, it’s not as if we ever took her out of training. We backed off of her after the Breeders’ Cup, but we never shut her down. We continued to train her lightly throughout November and December. I feel confident that she’s pretty tight and pretty much ready to go. I’m excited to bring her up here. It’s a great racing town and they appreciate good horses.”
Monomoy Girl arrived Wednesday night in Hot Springs after being based this winter at Fair Grounds.
Cox’s go-to rider, Florent Geroux, has ridden Monomoy Girl in her last 14 starts. Geroux said Monomoy Girl has flourished because of a “big heart” and the resolve to reach the finish line first.
“She’s a very gifted, talented mare,” Geroux said. “She takes her track with her. It’s not like’s only good at Churchill or Keeneland. She goes anywhere, East Coast, Midwest, and does great everywhere she goes. I think that’s one of the main assets for her.”
The Bayakoa also will mark Monomoy Girl’s first start since Spendthrift Farm purchased her for $9.5 million in November at Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale. Monomoy Girl will join Spendthrift’s broodmare band upon retirement, but that figures to be in 2022 after the famed racing/breeding operation of founder B. Wayne Hughes opted to keep her training with Cox this year.
Spendthrift stallion sales manager Mark Toothaker said his affinity for Monomoy Girl began after a conversation with Arkansas horseman Dan White in the fall of 2017, shortly before the horse, then 2 for 2, made her stakes and dirt debut in the $80,000 Rags to Riches at Churchill Downs.
Toothaker said White was struck by Monomoy Girl’s efficient action and believed she had a “big chance” to win. Monomoy Girl delivered, by 6 ½ emphatic lengths.
“That was really the first time I got her on my radar,” said Toothaker, who grew up in Van Buren, Ark., about 130 miles northwest of Hot Springs. “Boy, who would have ever dreamed she’d go on and do what she did. Just incredible. I think it goes back to the first time that I ever had a chance to see her, just as a fan. Just the efficiency that she moved with and the amount of ground that she covered. She’s got what all the champions have got. Just got the killer instinct and she’s going to beat you. She’s going to run right by you and break your heart. She’s got that ‘it’ factor. No doubt about it.”
In addition to Spendthrift, Monomoy Girl is now campaigned by MyRacehorse, which offers fractional ownership to investors, and Kumin, who bought back into the mare. Crow co-owns ELiTE Sales, which consigned Monomoy Girl to Fasig-Tipton’s Kentucky Fall Mixed Sale and is an integral part of Kumin’s racing team.
“I think this is just the cherry on top, this year,” Crow said. “I think Hot Springs is one of the best places in the country for racing fans and I really hope everybody enjoys getting to watch her run live. I think that’s what this year is all about. Hopefully, she gives a lot of fans an opportunity to enjoy her.”