Sol Kumin has experienced the thrill of owning a share of a Triple Crown winner thanks to Justify and been a part of dozens of celebrations after Grade 1 victories.
Yet, while watching a May 16 one-mile allowance-optional claiming race, he felt the same tingle he gets when one of his horses competes in one the sport’s richest and most well-known races.
“I was nervous,” Kumin said. “We’ve been waiting so long for this.”
For Kumin, his fellow owners, and trainer Brad Cox, more than 1 1/2 years of waiting and hoping came to a very happy ending when their champion racemare Monomoy Girl made her first start since winning the 2018 Longines Breeders' Cup Distaff and showed no signs of rust as she posted a 2 3/4-length victory in a $77,061 allowance race for fillies and mares on a sloppy track at Churchill Downs.
“She ran really, really well,” said Kumin, who owns Monomoy Girl through his Monomoy Stables along with Michael Dubb, The Elkstone Group, and Bethlehem Stables. “It wasn’t a perfect, easy trip and she’ll get a lot out of it. It was exciting to see. When you watch her make that move [on the final turn] and pull away, it’s such a relief. You know she’s back.”
In returning to a venue where she captured the Distaff and the Longines Kentucky Oaks, her two most important wins during a 2018 campaign when she was crowned the champion 3-year-old filly, the popular daughter of Tapizar put behind her two previous comeback bids that never materialized. One was thwarted by a mild case of colic, the other by a hamstring injury.
“I’m very proud of her. She showed what kind of champion she is today. She’s very special, that’s the bottom line,” Cox said. “A lot of credit goes to the ownership group for keeping her in training. We had two other runs at bringing her back but they didn’t work out. The third time was a charm in this case. I’m super excited about the year ahead.”
As for what’s next, the $200,000 Fleur de Lis Stakes June 27 at Churchill Downs could be a possibility, but Cox said he and the owners will await word on when the New York Racing Association will reschedule the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Stakes before making a final decision.
Regardless of what’s next, Cox said the Nov. 7 Distaff at Keeneland will be the ultimate goal.
“The Fleur de Lis is only thing out there now and is something we would look at, but we’ll see what kind of schedule NYRA announces,” Cox said. “Our main goal, however, is to get her to the Breeders’ Cup and we’ll map out a plan that will get her there.”
Though Monomoy Girl, with her five Grade 1 wins, had a huge class advantage over her six rivals, her lack of racing and a start on a wet track added some intrigue to the fourth race on a Saturday card that marked the opening day of racing without fans at Churchill Downs.
Fourth early on, Monomoy Girl was caught in a tight spot on the turn between horses before jockey Florent Geroux guided her outside of the front-running Talk Veuve to Me and Fashion Faux Pas approaching the quarter pole. The $3 million earner handled it from there.
The 1-2 favorite cruised past her rivals to open a 4 1/2-length lead in midstretch and was never seriously challenged as Calumet Farm’s Red Dane closed from sixth to take second and Agave Racing and Rockin Robin Racing Stable’s Miss Bigly was another 2 ¾ lengths back in third.
“She overcame some things today,” Cox said “She was boxed in and from the half-mile pole to the three-eighths pole I wasn’t sure of how much run she would have, if she got out. Florent did a good job of finding a seam and she responded. Hopefully this is the start of some good things to come.”