Cox, Geroux Sweep 3-Year-Old Points Races
By Dick Downey
The Downey Profile
Godolphin homebred Shared Sense won the Grade III Indiana Derby at Indiana Grand Wednesday night after a beautiful trip under Florent Geroux.
Near the rear of the pack early, Shared Sense saved ground and led only Major Fed during the first half-mile. After a bold move from the two path on the far turn, Geroux swung Shared Sense out at the top of the lane looking like a winner and got past the field to lead by a length at the furlong marker.
Major Fed made a late bid to finish second, but he was too late, beaten three lengths. A jockey objection for interference at the quarter pole by his rider, James Graham, was denied by stewards after a five-minute review that showed little, if any, evidence of an infraction.
Necker Island, who stalked the early leaders in fourth, outlasted Earner to place third, a half-length behind Major Fed. Another two lengths back was Earner, who dispatched pacesetter Taishan after that one set initial splits of 23.93, 47.69 and 1:12.27. The top four were followed by Extraordinary, Taishan, Winning Impression, Background and No Getting Over Me. Juggernaut was scratched.
Shared Sense made it to the finish line in 1:49.46 for the 1 1/8 mile.
Kentucky Derby points were available, but 20 to the winner will go unredeemed unless perhaps Shared Sense gets more Derby points and is supplemented to the Triple Crown. He is not nominated.
Major Fed picked up eight points and now has 38, which is 13th on the Derby points leaderboard. Necker Island got his first four points, and Earner got his first two.
Shared Sense is trained by Brad Cox, who one race earlier teamed up with Geroux to win the Grade III Indiana Oaks with 3-5 favorite Shedaresthedevil, who is Kentucky Oaks bound if all goes well.
In his most recent start, Shared Sense finished second to Art Collector but ahead of Finnick the Fierce in a Churchill Downs allowance race. Those two are entered in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on Saturday. The Indiana Derby was the first graded stake outing for Shared Sense, who now has three wins from eight starts and two seconds.
Shared Sense was bred in Kentucky and is by Street Sense out of Collective, by Bernardini.
Winning trainer Brad Cox: “(Possibly supplementing to the Triple Crown) will be up to the Godolphin team. But look, he’s a nice horse. Jimmy Bell and I have talked about it a couple of times, that a mile and an eighth is something he’ll like. Maybe even farther. He’s a tough horse. This horse, on the dry dirt, that’s where he gets his best races. I tried him on the grass. His physical makeup, how he travels, I thought he might like the grass. He didn’t really go for it. And his last race at Churchill was a really good race. That race didn’t set up at all for him and he ran a big race, finished second. He’s just a horse I think will get better with distance and race.
“You know, Florent gave him a beautiful trip, saved ground, tipped out. Once he got in the clear, I thought he would stay on. He’s bred to stay on. He’s a true mile and an eighth, mile and a quarter pedigree. There’s still a few races left to pick up Derby points. We’ll see how he comes out of this race and we’ll map out a plan the rest of the year. Godolphin is great to work for. They put the horse first. They’ll come up with a game plan for us moving forward, and we’ll try to execute it.
“We’ve had great year with these with these 3-year-olds, having the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby, and this horse picking up the Indiana Derby. I’m very proud of what our team has accomplished with them. It’s tough to get these horses to the Derby and to win these prep races, and just to have enough horse left to be in the Derby and be competitive. It’s a grueling road for the horses. But do right by them and take care of them and they’ll do right by you.
“He’s actually the same cross as Maxfield. Godolphin obviously owns him. It was kind of neat to see this horse step up. It was the first thing I noticed when Maxfield was running last year, that it was the same cross. Now the physicals are not quite the same. This horse is not a big horse. He’s a little bit of a smaller guy, but he’s honest. he tries really, really hard.”
Winning jockey Florent Geroux: “Beautiful trip to save ground all the way around there. It looked like the pace in front of me was honest. I was about to get the split right turning for home. Maybe I had contact with the horse of Greg Foley’s, Major Fed. But honestly I don’t think it made a difference. If I beat him a head, maybe we can make a case for it But when my horse ran going away like this, it was pretty clear there was not too much going on there.
“There was a little bit of bumping. I went to the 3 1/2 path to get in the clear, and James came running next to me on Major Fed, and we had a little bit of a bump. He was trying to block me in a bit, like he should. There was maybe some race-riding there but nothing bad. We didn’t put anybody in danger. There was a little bit of contact, but not enough to change the outcome of the race.
"Honestly, we were excited to see him run a mile and an eighth. It looked like the farther he goes the better he goes. Hopefully next time he can run a mile and an eighth, or a little bit farther, maybe the Travers. But the owners will talk about what’s best for the horse next time.”
Greg Foley, trainer of Major Fed: "Graham said (he broke well), 'He did, but he got pinched (back) again.' What can you say? Not again! He got pinched again. They went 48 for the half-mile; he was last by however much he was. He ran his butt off. He’s a good little horse. He’s going to get lucky one of these days. We got eight points (and 38 overall). We can run if we want to, I’m pretty sure.”
James Graham, aboard Major Fed: “He knocked me sideways just before the quarter pole. Drilled me. It’s a bad angle with the camera. It’s where it changes. He ran his butt off. He got pinched off at the start, saved ground around the turn, got out down the backside. I thought he was a legitimate closer. I would have loved to have been three lengths closer (early on). If he doesn’t slam me, I think we keep going. But after you knock a horse out that’s trying to go forward.… You start picking ‘em up, you swing by one horse, run around his outside, then he slams into you. That’s all right. I’ve got his license plate number (laughing).”
Mitchell Murrill, jockey on Necker Island: “He ran a great race. He broke well, got us in a good position, had a little altercation somewhere about the three-quarter pole, but he overcame it and kept running and did his thing and ran really well down the lane.”
Necker Island co-owner Wayne Scherr, who claimed Necker Island for $100,000 out of his last race: “Take another step and get some points, hopefully, and aim in that direction."
Co-owner Raymond Daniels: “We’re just excited to be here for the ride and see where things take us.”