LOUSIVILLE – Trainer Brad Cox said Juddmonte Farms’ Bonny South was rerouted from the Kentucky Oaks (G1) once it was announced in mid-August that the $250,000, Black-Eyed Susan (G2) would be on the Preakness undercard.
“That was the spot that made the most sense, against 3-year-olds fillies, he said.
Cox won the Kentucky Oaks anyway with 15-1 shot Shedaresthedevil upsetting Swiss Skydiver and odds-on favorite Gamine. He said the fact that he had the Indiana Oaks (G3) winner in the Churchill Downs race had no bearing on Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) winner Bonny South, who was coming off a second behind Swiss Skydiver in Saratoga’s Alabama (G1) at 1 1/4 miles on Aug. 15.
“The biggest thing with her not running in the Kentucky Oaks was coming back in 20 days, the quality of the race. It was a very, very good race,” Cox said. “Ultimately they made the decision to not run. The timing wasn’t quite there. Since the Alabama, she’s done really, really well.”
Bonny South worked five-eighths of a mile in 1:01 under jockey Florent Geroux Saturday morning at Churchill Downs. Cox timed her galloping out six furlongs in a strong 1:13 4/5, saying afterward, “She went fantastic. She’s doing great. She’s maturing. She’s still somewhat lightly raced, only run six times in her life. I think we have yet to see the best of her. Hopefully she’ll take a step forward. I don’t know what’s running in there yet, but I’d have to think she’s one of the top choices.”
Cox edged two-time defending champion Steve Asmussen to collect Preakness weekend’s trainer participation bonus last year, collecting $50,000. The bonus, which totals $100,000 is offered to trainers based on horses’ performances in stakes races. Cox earned top prize by winning the Miss Preakness (G3) with eventual 3-year-old filly and female sprint champion Covfefe, the Allaire duPont Distaff (G3) with Mylady Curlin, second in the Black-Eyed Susan with Ulele, as well as third (Owendale) and fourth (Warrior’s Charge) in the Preakness in the trainer’s Triple Crown debut.
Cox has some excellent horses under consideration this year but said no final decisions have been made beyond Bonny South. The possibilities from his barn include Juliet Foxtrot for the Gallorette (G3), Mundaye Call for the Miss Preakness, and Landeskog in the Frank DeFrancis Memorial Dash (G3).
“I don’t know if I’ll have as many this year as last year,” he said, adding that the bonus doesn’t impact running horses “but once you start running, you start watching. That’s how it works out. But really, it comes down to whether the horse fits or not. We just had a really good weekend last year.”