JOHN ASHER: Good evening, everyone. And welcome to the press conference following the 144th running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks. And the winner of the Kentucky Oaks, Monomoy Girl! (Applause.)
I will start down here on the rail with the jockey who was on the outside, you'll remember, in the Kentucky Oaks himself, Florent Geroux. He's had a pretty big year. In the past few months he has won a Breeders' Cup Classic and also won the Pegasus with Gun Runner and now wins his first Kentucky Oaks with Monomoy Girl.
Right next to Florent is Brad Cox who has not come as far as Florent, who is a native of France. Brad grew up two blocks from Churchill Downs and now wins the biggest race of his life at this point winning with Monomoy Girl.
We've got a group of owners. I'm going to introduce one and let him introduce everybody else so I don't mess it up, ladies and gentlemen.
But we're going to introduce first Michael Dubb.
MICHAEL DUBB: The one and only incomparable, revolutionary Sol. And the best guy I know, Stu Grant, and Jim Curry who is part of Monomoy and just a great guy.
JOHN ASHER: Just know our department aims to please.
Mr. Dubb, let's start with you and your thoughts of winning this race. It's a big race on a big weekend and a race with great history, 144 years. Wasn't easy coming down the homestretch, but Monomoy Girl gets there. Where does this rank as a win for you, and how special is this for you and your partners?
MICHAEL DUBB: It's incredible. Stu and I have had together the two favorites in the Kentucky Oaks previously, Grace Hall and Condo Commando. We had two other horses in the Kentucky Oaks. They were both favorites. They both got beat.
Today I was really confident. There was no nerves. Stu commented no nerves. I knew we had one of the greatest, if not at the moment, the greatest Kentucky trainer in Brad Cox. We had a great Kentucky rider. The horse was here. The horse had the race over the track.
It's interesting. Everybody is saying, "You got the 14 post. You got the 14 post." But they're discounting the experience of the team here and understanding the track, knowing the track. This was the time that I was really confident. And the way the horse dug in and fought back, I got to thank everybody ?? Liz Crowe, Brad Weisbord, who manages the operations. (Applause.)
Just everybody involved in the horse. Obviously, Brad Cox, Florent, my great partners. I'm just blessed.
JOHN ASHER: Any other partners want to offer a thought before we turn to the trainer and the jockey? Sol probably has something to say.
SOL KUMIN: I haven't had much vodka yet, so I'm well?behaved. I just want to congratulate these guys. Mike did a tremendous fantastic job representing all of us. This horse, Brad Cox first Grade I win in the Ashland and four weeks later coming back to win this race. The guy's now stepping on to the big stage. He's becoming one of the top trainers in the country. Getting to watch him manage this horse, care for this horse. And just seeing his development, it's been an unbelievable thing. We are super blessed to be a part of it.
Behind a horse there is always a story. Mike touched on some of it. We have a great group of partners here and both sides of this horse. We have Liz Crowe. This is one of the first tickets she ever signed. Grade I winner and an Oaks winner. That's her hard work and determination.
Mike touched on Brad Weisbord who has done so much for all of us in terms of helping us picking out horses and managing our stable.
We have an incredibly close relationship with Florent personally. And, obviously, we have won a lot of races with him.
So, you know, we couldn't be happier. I think, we had been nervous and excited and confident but also nervous and excited and just really happy for everybody here and just super proud to be a part of this.
JOHN ASHER: Sol, your name shows up as an owner in a lot of nice horses and a lot of nice races. How is this one for you?
SOL KUMIN: This feels about as good as it gets. The four of us ?? Liz, Brad ?? I mean, this is it, man. It doesn't get better, right? This is Kentucky Oaks Day, the biggest race. Winning it with all your friends, with a trainer you love, with a jockey you love, with a person picking out the horse that you love. This is about as good as it gets.
JOHN ASHER: The crowd was 113,510, fifth largest crowd in the history of the Kentucky Oaks and a wonderful day and a terrific result.
Let's go to the jockey first, Florent Geroux. Florent, you have had a wonderful couple years. A lot of great things happen to you. now you get ?? you have had great success here. And this one you now win the Kentucky Oaks. What does this race mean to you? What does this effort by Monomoy Girl mean to you?
FLORENT GEROUX: Well, first of all, it is a Kentucky classic. It's a race you want to put on your resume' as a jockey or trainer or owner. You only have one chance at it. It's not like you can come back and say, oh, maybe next year I have better luck. This is it. It's the only chance.
Like, you know, Sol said, it doesn't get any better. Sol is a great friend of mine. Same as Brad. Mike and the rest of the group, also very good friends. We make a very good combo there.
And I couldn't be any happier. It's just a dream come true. I have been very lucky and fortunate to win some of the biggest races in the world. But this one feels extra special when you are with your friend. I can't really describe it.
JOHN ASHER: She'd only lost once, and oddly enough it came here. But she ran a huge race last time out in the Ashland. Then you drew the 14 hole. If that was a concern, how big of a concern was it?
FLORENT GEROUX: She lost only once. I kind of took the blame. She started going all over the place. So we kind of learned our lesson from her, especially me knowing that's not a filly who is a very big fan of the stick. Today I was getting close. And the horse almost went by me, so I had to give her a few taps, maybe twice.
But, I mean, she's just incredible. She just keep on running. At the end, it's not like she's getting tired. She just lose focus. She can see every little detail there is on the track. I even know what she's looking at. She can see everything. From there, I just tried to keep her riding as hard as I can and make sure I keep her straight. That's kind of my job. It's just a great feeling, like I said.
JOHN ASHER: Pretty sure Brad Cox didn't lose focus coming down the homestretch watching what was happening. Brad, congratulations.
SOL KUMIN: You can make him cry right now.
BRAD COX: It was unbelievable. Just watching the replay here. I did see her kind of start looking around at the 5/16 pole and did get concerned, especially when Wonder Gadot was coming on the outside of her. We know she's a filly that she doesn't really like to be ridden aggressively, I guess, is the term. But Florent, obviously, had to get aggressive with her today. And she responded. Huge effort, means a lot. Obviously, the biggest victory in my career. It means a lot to do it with these guys. We've won a lot of races with Florent.
As far as Sol goes, it means a lot. The simple fact over the last year we have been close in two Grade I. And to win my first Grade I with him at Keeneland was a huge accomplishment. Liz Crowe and Paul Sharp and Brad Weisbord, obviously, they gave this ?? we have had this filly since last spring. And they bought her as a yearling and put all the work into her breaking her and getting her to us last spring.
And she hasn't let us down. She's an unbelievable filly that ?? she's an unbelievably talented filly. I'm very proud of her. I didn't lose any confidence in her when we drew the 14, to be honest with you. I know a lot of people did. But I lost no confidence with her.
And the bottom line is we needed racing luck. We got it. We didn't have any obstacles in front of us today. She got a good clear trip. And I'm very proud of her.
JOHN ASHER: Because I know this question is going to be asked, again, I mentioned you group up two blocks from Churchill Downs. I want you to tell them exactly where you grew up and when you first started dreaming about this moment.
BRAD COX: 903 Evelyn Avenue.
I mean, I was probably 12, 13 years old when I decided I wanted to start training horses. And I have always been the type of person that, if I'm going to do something, I want to do it to the best of my ability and go to the top. And this is how you get to the top, winning races like this.
So this is a huge accomplishment for us in our barn and our stable. And I'm very proud and feel very fortunate to be connected with these connections from Monomoy Stable, Mr. Dubb and Stuart Grant and the Bethlehem Stables and Florent and BSW Bloodstock and Liz Crowe and everyone.
JOHN ASHER: How did the partnership end up with Brad Cox here in Kentucky as your trainer?
MICHAEL DUBB: So Liz picks out some yearlings. And we have somebody else who picks out some yearlings. And I have to give credit where credit is due. Sol makes the decisions on about 50% of them. I make decisions on 50% of them. Obviously, he makes better decisions.
He made the decision to move to Brad. I think he really had recognized the up and coming talent, the tremendous talent that Brad has, the great demeanor that Brad has. And he recognized it.
You know, you are only as good as the people who surround you. This was Sol's decision.
STUART GRANT: What's interesting is you might see, if you go back and look sort of where the horse started, this wasn't one that was picked out in like, wow, this is ?? this is the one. She's shooting the lights out. This was a filly that really had to be developed. And Brad did an outstanding job of developing the filly, being able to place her in the right place, making her advance each time but not putting her over her head. There's a lot of work that goes into that oversight success. And he really did a tremendous job. And it was great call by Sol and Mike. But Brad really developed this horse. This horse wasn't there when we got it.
MICHAEL DUBB: A classic job of managing owners' expectations. We broke our maiden in Indiana.
BRAD COX: We had two fillies break their maidens in Indiana. A mile on the turf that were in this race.
Q. Brad, 903 what was the street?
BRAD COX: Evelyn.
Q. What was it about racing at 12 or 13 that appealed to you so much? Why did you get into it?
BRAD COX: My father brought me over at a very early ?? I don't know, 5, 6 years old. And I really just really liked it. I really enjoyed it and wanted ?? I guess when I was 12 ?? 11, 12, 13, I wanted to make a career out of it somehow, some way. Obviously, didn't know exactly what I wanted to do. A few years later I decided I wanted to train horses. So far so good. Keeping it rolling.
Q. It looked like with the outside post, the race looked like a replay of the Rachel Alexandra. Was that kind of the plan going in?
BRAD COX: Well, no. We kind of broke slow in the Rachel. It really wasn't ?? we probably overcome more in the Rachel than we did today. She was able to break and get in position. Florent did a good job of getting her out of the gate and hustling. Being caught three wide in the first turn in a 14?horse field, that's not bad.
Good horses have to be able to overcome things. And she was able to overcome the wide trip around the first turn and the two?wide going in the second turn.
Q. Did she pull you to the lead on the turn, or was that something you were urging her?
FLORENT GEROUX: No. That was her. When the 10 was tired, she took over from here. My hands are pretty full. I was trying to make sure I keep something for the end.
Q. Brad, everybody learned a little something?something about this horse today. Did you learn anything? The way she dug in in the stretch? Or did you know she was this good?
BRAD COX: I really believed she was this good. She had to fight today. She had to fight. She did get in a fight here in the fall and didn't work out as well against Road to Midway. But we found out that she knows how to dig back in and get her head in front. And she really had to fight today. We learned more about her today.
Q. She ran a marvelous race and was in control. Once she settled in, she was in control for most of it. But toward the end gave up the lead for just a little bit. From your standpoint, were you looking at it as a trainer? And from a jockey standpoint, at that time, she gave up that lead, what was that like for both of you guys, and how do you solve that?
FLORENT GEROUX: For me, when she started making the lead and her ears stopping flopping back and forth, I can see she's looking around too much. I was just hoping somebody was coming to me, but not that close. I was hoping somebody come, like, maybe on the flank and just pushed her along and from there just hold on.
But Johnny came very close to me. Like you can see at the end, she drew away from her. We were in a dog fight. But at the end, she proved she was the best, and she got in front of her very easy.
I think it's more a lack of focus for her than really her getting tired. I think she gets distracted very easy.
BRAD COX: I would agree with him 100%. She is a filly that does ?? I mean, at the 5/16, I saw him have to kind of start nudging on her a little bit. I was like she's wanting to kind of wait for other horses to come to her. She's a filly that likes to be near other horses. She doesn't like to run away from them. That's just a horse's natural herd instinct.
But, like I said earlier, she had to fight today to win. And I was concerned. I mean, any time you are in a horse race and you get passed in a lane, there's cause for concern. (Laughter.)
But she responded to Florent being aggressive with her. And that is the one thing that, you know, we had talked about: What point do you have to get ?? or you hope she's good enough to where she can just win like she did in the Ashland where we don't have to ?? you know, he doesn't have to hit her behind the saddle. But, obviously, today he did. And she responded well. So, you know, obviously, we are still learning about her. And, yes, I was concerned.
Q. Sol and Michael, can you guys talk about working with Liz Crowe. How you started together and what she brings to the operation?
SOL KUMIN: So I met Liz when she used to work with Pete Bradley. I started owning horses early with Chad Brown. Chad used Pete a great deal. And I probably had ten horses with Pete through the years.
Liz worked with Pete for a while, and I got to know her then. She left Pete to go on her own and then partnered up with Brad Weisbord, who I had just started working with. And it worked out perfectly. It was an opportunity to let her take the lead and see what she could do. I knew she was talented. Obviously, ethical, hard working, all the stuff you like to see. But she hadn't fully done it on her own. This gives her a look of what she can do when she gets a chance. She has done a terrific job and just extremely proud of her.
Q. Maybe this is just laziness from the American racing observer or the rider. You have been pigeon holed as this turf specialist. Do you derive any added satisfaction when you look at what you have done over the past couple of years? Specifically adding this one now to your mantel, the biggest dirt races in the country? And also what is Phantom Fireworks?
FLORENT GEROUX: I'm worried it looks like some company of fireworks sponsoring me for the Oaks and also tomorrow for the Kentucky Derby. They ask me for a sponsor, and I just say yes.
SOL KUMIN: Why don't you tell them what really happened.
Florent calls me and says, "Hey, is it okay if we do a sponsorship?" Sure. Next time I get a call, I need to sign something, fax it with every partner in 30 minutes. And we're in a hotel here.
FLORENT GEROUX: You know, so I knew he was willing to sign quick for me, so I was not worried.
Like you said, I won a bunch of big races on the turf. I guess I'm all right on the dirt. (Laughter.)
I got some of the biggest racing in the country, the Classic and the Pegasus World Cup. So I guess now give me more credibility and thank God to Gun Runner. I know he was here.
It's more like people need to have faith in you, especially when you are on this kind of level. You want to a guy with experience, but you don't want a guy who's too old and beat up, too. You kind of want something in the middle. And I feel like I'm in that group right now. Pray I have more years to beat the other guys.
Q. Brad, we have talked about what it's taken to get to this point in the past. When you did get it and you were in the Winner's Circle and you had handshakes to do and thanks to give, what was going through your mind at that point?
BRAD COX: You know, it's a tremendous accomplishment. I'm proud of the filly, proud of the team we have put together. And I'm happy for the people around me. You know, at the end of the day, I feel like I just want to make people proud of what we do and provide for these clients. And these owners, they have done ?? they gave us an opportunity with a great filly. And, obviously, we don't want to let them down.
Honestly, you know, we'll see what happens moving forward. Probably look ?? I'm already thinking about the next race. And we'll see. Yeah, it's been an unbelievable ride with this filly since last November. Put a plan in race. We made this our third race off the layoff. Everything went extremely well. I'm real happy with what she's accomplished, and it's an amazing race to win.
Q. Do you know where you will take her next?
BRAD COX: I will talk it over with these guys. I would love to look at the Acorn. It's a mile. We'll talk about it. But that's definitely something we had talked about last fall. And these guys are East Coast guys. And I like Belmont. It's a prestigious race, and I think it would mean a lot to win that. And it would help ?? obviously, right now the goal is to accomplish enough with her to make her a champion 3?year?old. That's our goal. Maybe try to get back here to the Breeder's Cup in the fall.
JOHN ASHER: No one asked about the bumping in the homestretch. There was a claim of foul in the race from Johnny Velazquez, the runner up. From your standpoint, what was ?? you and Brad both and owners, if you wish. What were you thinking?
FLORENT GEROUX: I know we touched. But we are very close to each other. I hit my feet only twice. And I slightly ?? slightly came out. If there was a nose, maybe they would take a look at it a little bit longer. But, since my filly kind of drew away, I think it was pretty clear to the stewards. I felt like it's not like I hit him ten times, and she keep coming out and it was completely my fault. I hit her maybe once or twice. And she slightly came out. But, since Johnny was very close to me, we never went out of control. So I was very confident. I was not shaking, like, all right, let's pray we just going to hopefully don't down and up. I was pretty confident. I talked to Brad right away. I was hoping the stewards were making the right decision.
JOHN ASHER: Brad, how confident were you?
BRAD COX: Well, you know, watching the race, I actually saw a little bump. But I didn't think it was much. And then when I went out there, I was out there ?? I never heard anything. As soon as I saw the objection, I thought, yeah, I saw that, when I was watching it in realtime. So, when I did see the objection, I was glad I didn't see an inquiry. So that's not ?? it's better when it's just an objection, I feel like.
I was pretty confident after watching the head?on that they wouldn't really do anything. I thought, that filly was coming in a little bit on us as we were coming out on her a little bit, too. I don't know if they bumped. I would call it more of a brush. But rubbing, tracing.
JOHN ASHER: Could you talk to us a little bit in terms of the partnership, how this partnership came together and grew and have all you gentlemen at the table.
SOL KUMIN: Sure. Mike and I have been partners for three or four years now. Mike and Stu have been partners for a long, long time, as Mike touched on before.
When we went to the yearling sale ?? I guess this was probably a year and a half ago now or so, as Mike mentioned, we had a few different people buying for us. I kind of managed one group, and Mike managed the other. And I put a group together, a couple friends of ours in Monomoy. And Mike did the same thing with Stu, and that was the other side.
We phoned up a lot of horses together over the last bunch of years and had some good success and built a great friendship.
MICHAEL DUBB: The word "karma" ?? you know, from the time that I met Sol at Saratoga, was introduced to him, really he had just gotten in the game. He had a certain way about him, a great demeanor, easy going. Believe it or not, not much ego which is really important in the horse business. And we kind of just have gelled. And as partners, we have never had a disagreement. All we've had is fun.
And I've enjoyed watching Sol's ascendancy in the game and gotten great pleasure out of it. And I think Sol the same way because ?? I claim horses, I play the game and all. He loves that and he encourages that and we play off each other.
And Stu and I have been together north of ten years. We also met at the track, and it's just chemistry. We all gel. And Stu had some farms. He has been a trouper all these years. And we are ?? we're all good and we're all easy.
And Jim down at the end, right, came with Sol. I mean, everybody's happy with everybody. Anything to add?
STUART GRANT: The other nice thing is for all of us, it's a family sport. So it's really nice to have a family. I know we all have our kids here and our spouses here. It's ?? they all like to share in it. So it makes it a lot of fun not only to have great partners but to have partners whose families are into it also. So that made it that much more sweet.
MICHAEL DUBB: I just have one other comment. I have known Brad Weisbord since he was a 12?year?old brat. And, of course, now it's a 30?something?year?old brat. But I have known him ?? when Brad became managing Sol's operation, it was like all in the family. We were all connected. But I really have known Brad that long. And my children are friends with his children. In fact, they are both sitting by each other. So it's all good and it's all family and a lot of warmth.
JOHN ASHER: Speaking of family, Mr. Dubb, you have been involved with a lot of things giving back to the industry, the Belmont child care and things of that nature. Could you talk a little bit about that and your activities there.
MICHAEL DUBB: Yeah, I mean, I was introduced to the backstretch of Belmont by Jerry Bailey about 20 years ago and they needed a day?care center. And I'm a builder and I offered to build it and donate it. And that was my introduction to racing. I started meeting trainers.
But I think everybody in this group is very charitable and gracious. And we know ?? I know in a big way we do not take the people who toil on the backside for granted. And I always want to be out there fighting for them.
Now, in all fairness, my greatest win on the racetrack is still the day?care center at Belmont because that's changed hundreds of lives. (Applause).
JOHN ASHER: Flo, you are making plans on something here. You are riding tomorrow in the Kentucky Derby aboard Noble Indy. Your thoughts on that and what lies ahead tomorrow.
FLORENT GEROUX: Well, I can't wait for it. You know, that's the biggest race pretty much of the year, not the richest. I already got it. But I'm looking for ?? I'm looking for the prestige now. And the Derby is definitely very ?? very high on my list. You know, that's the race every jockey here dreams and would love to ride. I came close to finishing third with Gun Runner two years ago.
But Noble Indy is a little bit different. It's a horse I have never ridden before. I have only ridden one time. It's a horse who is coming in good shape. And the horse won one of the major prep, Lousiana Derby. It is owned by WinStar. There is not much to knock against him.
On numbers, he looks a little bit slower than some other horses. But if every favorite won every year, why would we run them? So I can't wait for it.
I got a funny story about that filly, Monomoy Girl, outside of your question. We were racing Chariot at Oakland. I was running for Brad. And I was looking at the forecast in New Orleans. There was a lot of rain, and we only had one gap to walk her. And that was the major race right before the Rachel Alexandra. And we couldn't fly there. There was no flight. There was nothing we can do. And we end up driving seven straight hours at 7:00 at night.
And we get in New Orleans. We left Hot Springs at 7:00. And we got to New Orleans maybe, like, 3:00 in the morning. And the three of us driving as fast as we can to get there. And the filly breeds first thing in the morning. Just so you know how dedicated we were just for this filly to make a lot of sacrifice. And we are glad it paid off. It was just something I wanted to tell you guys.