As runners prepare for the $300,000 Cornhusker Handicap at Prarie Meadows on Friday, July 2, there is a big ole question mark surrounding the top dog in the hunt…Will we see the super Knicks Go we saw back in January in the Pegasus Cup, or that Clark Kent version that showed up at Belmont Park in June?
Since moving to the Brad Cox barn last year, this five year old son of Paynter has become one of the top older dirt horses in the world. Faster than a speeding bullet, he unfurled his cape with a track record-setting run in the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile on November 7, 2020. Following that with a front running score in the Pegasus on January 23 that had him labeled as more powerful than a locomotive, Knicks Go was THE man…and then came the trip to Saudi.
The Saudi Cup in February turned out to be kryptonite for this fleet-footed front runner. Breaking alertly he assumed the lead early as is customary in his races, but this time he faded late and finished fourth. After a little rest and relaxation, Cox sent his magnificent Maryland-bred to Belmont Park for a run in the Met Mile. Again he broke sharply and was on the lead only to encounter that green rock in the stretch. Fading to fourth in the depths of Big Sandy on June 5, some began to wonder if Knicks would be able to Go as he did before.
So here we are at the Cornhusker where Knicks Go will face six others as the likely heavy favorite. The mile and an eighth dance over the Iowa dirt should tell us a few things. Although the field is not super-stellar, it does include veteran hard knockers like Tenfold, Rated R Superstar, Last Judgement, and Modernist.
Brad Cox is one of the brightest minds in the game and his goal with Knicks Go is a visit to Del Mar in November with defense of the Dirt Mile in mind. With a likely start at Saratoga also in the works, this hard-working conditioner has a plan for getting this horse back to the top. Like any athlete, these runners have peaks and valleys. Cox hopes this horse has picked up that cape from the cleaners.
Post time for the Cornhusker Handicap is slated for 9:12 pm central.