Brad Cox’s dominant Pegasus World Cup winner Knicks Go remains in the mix for a mouthwatering clash with the Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan in the Saudi Cup.
Knicks Go earned an automatic berth with an all-the-way success at Gulfstream Park, proving he can stay further than a mile into the bargain.
“He’s done extremely well, he bounced out of the race fine and flew back to New Orleans on Sunday morning,” Cox told Nick Luck’s Daily Podcast.
“It looked like Joel (Rosario) didn’t get to the bottom of him, so hopefully we can head towards the Saudi Cup.
“As a trainer, you try to stay positive but always look at things that could go wrong. Obviously it was our first start without Lasix, he had yet to win at a mile and an eighth and as he’d been so dominant at Keeneland (Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile) – we had to transfer that form to South Florida and he was able to do so.”
The Saudi Cup sees the field only take one turn and Cox is in two minds whether or not that will be in Knicks Go’s favour.
“It’s hard for me to say if a one-turn mile and an eighth will suit him,” said Cox.
“He went really quick the other day, there was a horse on his outside – I thought 46 (seconds) for the half-mile was quick enough, but he was able to stay on.
“He’s able to get into that one big cruising speed where he’s comfortable and I think he’s able to put horses away between the half (mile) to three-eighths pole. I think he’ll adapt to the one-turn.
“He doesn’t have to lead, he’s just naturally gifted and is quick from the gate. You’d like to think he doesn’t have to lead, but he’s performing well with the style he has right now.
“Charlatan is a very good horse, obviously lightly-raced, but he’s got crazy good numbers. He’s a freak talent, but he does lack some experience. If we decide to go to Saudi, it would be a great match up, it really would.”
Another star in Cox’s barn is dual Breeders’ Cup Distaff heroine Monomoy Girl, who could take on the boys at some stage this year having stayed with Cox following her sale for $9.5million.
“There were definitely different views from the people who had interest in her, but I feel very fortunate that Spendthrift were able to purchase her,” said Cox.
“Their plan was to continue to race her all year and try to get her back at the Breeders’ Cup, which I think is probably the right thing for her.
“It’s been mentioned we might take on the males. We’ve picked out a few races like the Bayakoa and Apple Blossom as short-term goals, then (we’ll) reassess as the year goes on.
“I’d prefer an opportunity before then (Breeders’ Cup) and that would then give us the opportunity to go in the Classic or remain with the girls in the Distaff. It would be great for racing, I do believe.”
Excitingly for British fans, Cox’s Aunt Pearl, who beat Mother Earth and Miss Amulet in the Juvenile Fillies’ Turf at the Breeders’ Cup, is still being considered for Royal Ascot.
“Royal Ascot is still on the cards. She’s back training. We’ve just given her an opportunity to catch her breath while there wasn’t much going on for three-year-old fillies in the States,” said Cox.
“The Coronation Stakes would be what we are looking at. I’ve only seen videos, but she looks like she’s filled out and she looks amazing.”
Cox also has three contenders for the Kentucky Derby at this stage.
He said: “We’ve Essential Quality, but we’ve got some other colts. Caddo River has a lot of speed, Mandaloun will wear blinkers on his next start – he has a lot of talent but needs to put it all together mentally.”