Taraz ‘Obviously Still Learning,’ But Cox Excited About Kentucky Oaks Hopeful

Asked Thursday morning for a tale of the tape description of unbeaten Taraz, trainer Brad Cox simply laughed.

“I don’t have a scale or a measuring stick,” said Cox, a 2019 Eclipse Awards finalist as the country’s outstanding trainer. “I’m not sure, but she’s big – a big girl.”

Literally and figuratively, Taraz has towered over her opposition since Day 1, winning her first two career starts by a combined 18 ¾ lengths. But, a new year brings a new challenge for Taraz, a physically imposing homebred for famed Juddmonte Farms, Inc. who is scheduled to make her 2020 and two-turn debut in the $150,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies Saturday at Oaklawn.

Probable post time for the 1-mile Martha Washington, which goes as the sixth of nine races, is 3:39 p.m. (Central). First post Saturday is 1:05 p.m.

Only four other horses are entered in the Martha Washington, a testament to the buzz surrounding Taraz as not only a potential major player for the Kentucky Oaks, but the Kentucky Derby as well.

Expectations for Taraz, at this moment, seem only rivaled by her size.

“Honestly, a horse like this, in a position like this and what she’s showed us, yeah, I guess you feel a lot of pressure and you kind of want some relief,” Cox said. “You hope it’s positive relief. But, that’s what it is right now. Look, it’s a good spot for her and her process of getting her education and she’s obviously still learning. We’re going to do something with her Saturday that we’ve never done and we’re running against some horses that have experience going two turns.”

Taraz, a daughter of super sire Into Mischief, won her career debut by 7 ½ lengths Nov. 14 at Churchill Downs and the $75,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes Dec. 21 at Fair Grounds by 11 ¼ gate-to-wire lengths.

Cox said the Martha Washington is an ideal spot for the speedy Taraz’s two-turn debut because mile races at Oaklawn begin and end at the sixteenth pole in the stretch, adding it could be an opportunity to stalk the pace since O Seraphina, a front-running maiden winner around two turns Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds, drew the rail. Taraz, the even-money program favorite, is scheduled to break from post 3 under regular rider Florent Geroux.

“I’m good with it,” Cox said. “The post is fine. It looks like maybe the horse that could show the way is to the inside of us, which I feel like is a positive. But, we’ll see. She’s fast, too. I don’t know who’ll show the way. It could very well be us. It will be up to Florent how she comes out of the gate. I feel like if we needed to be, which we don’t, we could be in front. Once again, we’re trying to get her to go two turns and beyond, a mile and eighth, at least, hopefully. We’ll just try to teach her to relax and see if she can get it done.”

Martha Washington entrants from the rail out: O Seraphina, Martin Garcia to ride, 115 pounds, 6-1 on the morning line; High On Gin, Declan Cannon, 122, 15-1; Taraz, Florent Geroux, 119, even money; Shedaresthedevil, Joe Talamo, 115, 3-1; and Princesinha Julia, Ricardo Santana Jr., 122, 5-2.

Taraz was vanned Tuesday to Oaklawn from her Fair Grounds base and galloped Wednesday and Thursday. She also schooled in the paddock Thursday.

“She’s doing well,” Cox said. “We’re excited about her, obviously.”

The Martha Washington offers 17 points (10-4-2-1) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies.

The post Taraz ‘Obviously Still Learning,’ But Cox Excited About Kentucky Oaks Hopeful appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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