Comeback Queen: Monomoy Girl Shines, Swiss Skydiver Struggles After Rough Start In Distaff

The much-anticipated match-up between fan favorites Monomoy Girl and Swiss Skydiver saw the elder prevail in a decisive 1 3/4-length victory in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Distaff. The win for 5-year-old Monomoy Girl capped an incredible 2020 season after an 18-month layoff due to colic surgery and a pulled muscle.

The race started poorly for 3-year-old Swiss Skydiver, who tripped leaving the starting gates under Robby Albarado and tucked in along the rail while Monomoy Girl sat off the early pace set by Lady Kate and Harvest Moon. Monomoy Girl made a four wide move going into the final turn while Swiss Skydiver hugged the rail and took advantage of an open space, bursting through while Monomoy Girl came charging on the outside. Swiss Skydiver weakened as Monomoy Girl strengthened with rider Florent Geroux, finding a new gear down to the finish and holding off late charges by Valiance and Dunbar Road, who finished second and third. Swiss Skydiver finished seventh.

“Honestly it’s a relief,” said Cox. “She means the world to me and it’s a lot of pressure when we run her, I don’t know why. It just is. It’s been a long road back. She’s a real race horse. She’s meant so much for so many people’s lives, she’s an amazing creature. I love her to pieces.

“Words can’t even describe it. I think she plays a big role in our other three Breeders Cup victories over the weekend. She’s meant so much to so many people’s lives. She was my first Grade 1 winner here at Keeneland. I’m just so proud of her.”

The win is the fourth in this year’s Breeders’ Cup for trainer Brad Cox and the second for Geroux. Monomoy Girl’s victory marks the fourth time in the race’s history that a horse has won two editions of the Distaff. Cox is now tied with Richard Mandella for most Breeders’ Cup wins in one edition of the event, though Mandella won them all in one day in 2003.

“What a mare, just exceptional,” said Geroux. “She’s a mare of a lifetime, very rare. It’s like finding a diamond. When you have it, you do the best you can. It’s a gift. Even after all she’s been through, being off a year and a half, to come back and still be at the top of her game is unreal. I’m super thankful for the opportunity that Brad and the owners have given me.” 

The final time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:47.84 following fast fractions of :23.11, :46.03, 1:09.94 on a dirt track that has played to speed all day.

Monomoy Girl’s record now includes 13 wins from 15 starts, including this year’s G1 La Troienne and G2 Ruffian for a group of owners including Michael Dubb, Monomoy Stables, The Elkstone Group and Bethlehem Stables. She was bred in Kentucky by FPF LLC and Highfield Ranch and is the daughter of Tapizar and Henny Hughes mare Drumette. Monomoy Girl was sold as a yearling for $100,000 to BSW Bloodstock/Liz Crow at the 2016 Keeneland September Sale, where she was consigned by Gainesway.

Prior to her break, which took out her entire 4-year-old season, she won the 2018 Distaff as well as the G1 Cotillion, G1 Coaching Club American Oaks, G1 Acorn and the G1 Kentucky Oaks.

Monomoy Girl is scheduled to be sold on Nov. 8 at Fasig-Tipton‘s November Sale. Her ownership told NBC reporters they would meet after the race to determine next steps after her win, but anticipated she would still go through the auction ring.

Swiss Skydiver trainer Ken McPeek suggested that as long as the filly came out of the race well, she would likely come back for a 4-year-old campaign. McPeek cautioned he wanted to check her over, as he found her finish uncharacteristic, but as long as she comes away from the Distaff healthy, he would begin plotting for 2021.

“She stumbled a little bit leaving there,” said Alborado. “It maybe cost her a little length or two position-wise, but it didn’t cost us the win. I had a great opportunity turning for home and get on through there and get heads-up with the champ, but she just didn’t have it today.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t win, but I’m not disappointed in her. What she has done in her career, she has never let anybody down, she hasn’t disappointed anybody. The way she ran in the Preakness, she doesn’t have to validate herself from here on out. She’s a special filly and everybody knows her. She gets a little time now and will come back next year stronger.”

The post Comeback Queen: Monomoy Girl Shines, Swiss Skydiver Struggles After Rough Start In Distaff appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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