(photo by Coady Photography)
What’s the best teacher in life’s lesson plan? Well of course it is experience. This year’s Kentucky Oaks champion trainer is a shining example of how the past can help the future.
Shedarethedevil came into the 2020 Kentucky Oaks as an under the radar horse. She left with a few jaws agape after establishing a new stakes record (1:48.28) while recording a length and a half win. Breaking from the gates at odds of 15-1, this Brad Cox trained filly displayed some dogged determination in what turned out to be a perfect trip under jockey Florent Geroux.
“Florent was aggressive with her right out of the gate and put a lot of pressure on Gamine up front,” says Cox. “It was a brilliant ride because he saved enough to hold off a very talented Swiss Skydiver after we made the lead. I can’t say enough about the job Florent did in guiding her to this win.”
Geroux’s ride was indeed spectacular, but the game planning by Cox ahead of the race was equally good. Choosing to skip a lot of the traditional three-year old filly races, the Louisville native used some of his past experience in devising his horse’s path to Kentucky Oaks glory.
“I learned last year with Covfefe that we can prep our horses for big races in different spots,” says Cox. “We did not want to ship before the Breeders’ Cup so we stayed home at Churchill and ran her in the Dogwood in September. She went out to Santa Anita and ran huge in the Filly and Mare Sprint. That taught me we have the ability to win on the big stages without doing some of the traditional things people think you should do.”
Shedaresthedevil recorded an Allowance win at Churchill in early June and then went just north to Indiana and won the Indiana Oaks. Choosing to bypass Belmont Park and Saratoga, the winner of nearly 1400 races kept his eyes on the prize. Having won the Lillies for these three year old Fillies in 2018 with Monomoy Girl, Cox had a vision for success with this daughter of Daredevil.
“During a normal year we might have done things differently,” says Cox.” We decided after the announcement the Oaks would be in September we wanted to try something a little different with her. The owners were on board with the plan and she responded beautifully to the program.
This marks another huge win for a bright, young man in the training ranks. Earlier on Oaks day he took the La Troienne with Monomoy Girl and on Derby day Beau Recall won the Distaff Turf Mile with a sizzling late run. Any win for the Cox barn is a good win, but his second career triumph in the Kentucky Oaks is especially sweet because his plan came to fruition.
“We are really savoring this one because of how we did it,” says Cox. “Winning with favorites is good, but when you can do it with an unexpected horse it is maybe a little more rewarding.”
Shedaresthedevil will get a breather now after a sparkling run in the Kentucky Oaks. Her next move is yet to be determined, but rest assured, Brad Cox will have a plan.