One thing we all need to be aware is the fact there is more than one way to skin a possum. Just because Uncle Cletus decides to do it from tooter to rooter and cousin Joe Bob goes from rooter to tooter it does not mean either are wrong…they just take a different approach. And that is exactly what a rising star in the Thoroughbred training game has done with his Kentucky Oaks contender.
The rescheduling of the Kentucky Oaks to September 4 altered the way a lot of things have been done as far as preparation is concerned. Races were re scheduled, new qualifying points opportunities came up, and of course the challenge of keeping healthy was there. Louisville native Brad Cox recognized in March he had a determined filly with a real chance. So, then he came up with an under the radar plan.
Shedaresthedevil was very impressive in winning the Honeybee Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 7. Fourth at the top of the stretch and looking for running room, this daughter of Daredevil patiently waited as the wire drew ever closer. Suddenly a hole opened up in deep stretch and she split foes like a lumberjack. Furiously running to the finish, her turn of foot labeled her as areal Oaks contender.
Having won the Kentucky Oaks in 2018 with super filly Monomoy Girl, Cox understands the complexities with preparing runners for the big time races. With that in mind, he began drawing out his X’s and O’s with the Kentucky Oaks as the ultimate goal.
“We knew after the Honeybee she had a chance,” says Cox. “We felt like what matters the most is getting her to the race and being her best on Oaks day. We didn’t want to squeeze the lemon too much along the way.”
In May, Shedaresthedevil ran third in the Fantasy Stakes behind winner and likely Oaks favorite Swiss Skydiver. That was followed by a very impressive 6 length win on June 5 at Churchill Downs in an allowance race. Next her calculating conditioner chose the Indiana Derby on July 8 and Shedaresthedevil did not disappoint with an authoritative five length score.
Although he may have bypassed some of the summer’s more traditional races for three-year old females, Cox comes home to Churchill with a runner that has won three of her last four starts. Fresh and lively, Shedaresthedevil is giving off many positive signs.
“She is doing great right now and we like where she’s at,” says Cox. “We may have taken a different route than some, but we wanted to do what we felt was best for her. She has matured and is very professional in how she goes about her business.”
Shedaresthedevil will likely draw some folks to the betting window as Cox is a local that has made a name for himself in recent years. Wins in graded stakes all over the country now decorate his resume. Big winners in the more traditional races, Swiss Skydiver and Gamine are likely to vie for favoritism in the Kentucky Oaks. None of that factors in for Cox as he prepares his prize.
“I like having favorites,” jokes Cox. “Yes there is more pressure on you when you saddle a favorite but that is pressure I welcome. In the end, we prepare the same way whether we are 4 to 5 or 45 to 1. It’s all about giving your horse the best chance to be successful and that is what we have tried to do here.”
The 146th Kentucky Oaks will be run at Churchill Downs on Friday September 4.