Monomoy Girl is early Kentucky Oaks favorite

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Monomoy Girl is the early 2-1 favorite for the Kentucky Oaks, but has a challenging run from the No. 14 post position in the marquee race for three-year-old fillies.

Monomoy Girl drew the No. 14 post Monday and is one of three Brad Cox-trained entries in Friday’s $1 million race at Churchill Downs. Monomoy Girl has five wins and a second in six career starts. She won the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland on April 7.

2018 Kentucky Derby: How to Watch, Post Time, Horses and More

Cox clearly would have preferred a better draw in the 144th Oaks. Florent Geroux will make his sixth consecutive start aboard Monomoy Girl, who has won her past two races by a combined eight lengths.

“It is what it is. It’s horse racing,” said Cox, whose other Oaks fillies are Kelly’s Humor and Sassy Sienna. “Monomoy Girl is a good filly, and good horses overcome things. She’s ready to run.”

Midnight Bisou is the 5-2 second choice and will start from the No. 10 post. Trained by Bill Spawr, she is going for a fourth straight graded stakes win in 2018 beneath Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith, including the Santa Anita Oaks.

Co-owner Jeffrey Bloom believes Midnight Bisou is in the “perfect” spot.

“We weren’t overly concerned about the post position,” he said. “We didn’t want to have the 1 or the 2, didn’t really want to have the extreme outside. I think it’s a great opportunity for Mike Smith to be able to get comfortable in terms of letting the horses come out of there and seeing how the race unfolds.”

Twelve other fillies drew double-digit odds in the 1 1/8-mile race. My Miss Lilly (No. 11 post) is at 10-1 while Coach Rocks and Chocolate Martini are at 12-1 and starting from the second and fourth posts.

Sassy Sienna drew the rail and is 15-1 with Classy Act, Rayya, Take Charge Paula and Eskimo Kisses. Wonder Gadot is 20-1, with Kelly’s Humor, Heavenhasmynikki and Patrona Margarita at 30-1.

Stradivarius, 3-time Ascot Gold Cup winner, retired to stud

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LONDON – Stradivarius, one of the most famous racehorses in Britain and Ireland after winning the Gold Cup at Ascot three times, has been retired to stud.

Bjorn Nielsen, the owner of Stradivarius, said he felt it would be unfair to make the horse come back next season as a 9-year-old after time away with a bruised foot.

“It has been a fairytale from start to finish,” Nielsen told British newspaper The Racing Post.

Stradivarius, bred in Ireland and the son of Sea The Stars, won 20 of his 35 races – including seven Group One races – and earned almost 3.5 million pounds (now $3.8 million) in prize money.

Stradivarius won four Goodwood Cups, three Yorkshire Cups and two Doncaster Cups.

Taiba wins $1 million Pennsylvania Derby for Baffert

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BENSALEM, Pa. – Taiba won the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby by three lengths for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert.

Ridden by Mike Smith, Taiba ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.67 and paid $4.80, $3 and $2.60.

It was Baffert’s fourth win in the Grade 1 event at Parx Racing. He also won in 2014, 2017 and 2018. Smith won the race for the third time, all aboard Baffert horses.

Zandon returned $3.80 and $2.60. Cyberknife was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third and paid $3 to show.

Taiba was coming off a second-place finish in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in July. The colt was 12th in the Kentucky Derby under Tim Yakteen, who took over training him while Baffert was serving a 90-day suspension.

“He had a little bit of a rough trip in the Haskell, but we had some time to get him ready for this one,” Baffert said from his base in California. “He proved today he is a good horse. He is getting better and better.”

Baffert Taiba will be pointed toward the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic in November. The colt has three wins in five starts this year.