Second Stakes Win of Day for Jockey-Trainer Team of Geroux-Cox
BALTIMORE – Jockey Florent Geroux and trainer Brad Cox teamed up for their second stakes win of the afternoon when Gaining Ground Racing’s Factor This cruised to a popular front-running 2 ¾-length score in Saturday’s $250,000 Dinner Party (G2) at Pimlico Race Course.
The 119th running of the Dinner Party for 3-year-olds and up on the grass was part of a Preakness Day program of 12 stakes races, seven graded, worth $2.7 million in purses featuring the $1 million Preakness (G1) and $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2).
Previously run as the Dixie, Pimlico’s oldest stakes race and the eighth-oldest in the country was named the Dinner Party for its 1870 debut and contested at two miles. The distance has changed eight times over its history, settling at the current 1 1/16 miles in 2014.
Four races prior to the Dinner Party, Geroux rode another big favorite, Juliet Foxtrot, to victory for Cox in the $150,000 Gallorette (G3) on the Pimlico turf.
An 11-time winner with more than $1 million in purse earnings going into the race, Factor This was sent off as the 4-5 favorite in a field of seven and quickly established her presence, sent to the lead from her far outside post by Geroux. Grade 3 winner Irish Strait pressed Factor This through splits of 24.28 and 48.74 seconds, with Grade 2 winner Somelikeithotbrown – rank early in the race – taking up the chase approaching the stretch. The top two gained separation through the lane but Factor This was able to find another gear, repel Somelikeithotbrown and draw clear.
Somelikeithotbrown was 6 ½ lengths clear of stablemate Hembree in third, with Doctor Mounty another half-length back in fourth. True Valour, O Dionysus and Irish Strait completed the order of finish.
Factor This was beaten less than a length after setting the pace in the 1 1/8-mile Turf Classic (G1) Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs in his prior start, but was cutting back to a distance where the 5-year-old now has five wins from eight tries, including the June 20 Wise Dan (G2). That win was part of a three-race streak interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic following victories in the Muniz Memorial Classic (G3) and Fair Grounds (G3).
The Dinner Party got its name after Maryland Governor Oden Bowie and several other notable racing figures attended the Saratoga races in 1868 and agreed during a luncheon on a plan to hold a race in 1870 for 3-year-olds. The race would be called the Dinner Party Stakes, with the winner hosting the others at a banquet following the event. The first winner of the Dinner Party, which offered $6,400 to the winner, was a horse named Preakness.
$250,000 Dinner Party (G2) Quotes
Ricky Giannini, Assistant to Trainer Brad Cox (Factor This) – “As long as he gets the lead and is allowed to relax out there, I think that’s the key for his races. About 48-and-change [seconds for the half-mile] is his ballpark. Anything more than that is even better. Softer fractions helped him a lot.”
Winning Jockey Florent Geroux (Factor This) – “He’s a very nice horse. It was a big class relief for the horse. He just ran a great race in the Grade 1 [Churchill Downs’ Turf Classic] on Derby day. It was a great spot for him and a nice confidence builder for the horse.”
“If somebody really wanted to go I probably would have gone to Plan B. But it looked like he was the fastest on paper and he was pretty good.” Trainer Michael Maker (Somelikeithotbrown, 2nd): “We were supposed to be on the lead and not be covered up, but that’s not what we got. He’s a classy horse. I expected a big effort today. I just wish it was on the front end.”