Brad Cox was pretty anxious to get his 1,000th victory, but the two-time defending leading trainer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots finally reached that milestone in the fifth race Nov. 18 in New Orleans with Play On.
“It seemed like over the last few weeks, we had a hard time getting there, but it was big to finally get it done,” Cox said. “When you first start, you don’t think it’s ever going to happen. It takes a while to get going. I’m glad it’s behind us. It’s a great achievement. Thanks to the crew, our assistants, foreman, grooms, and exercise riders.
“It’s definitely not a one-man show at all. There are a lot of people who work extremely hard. It’s not just me. It’s a team effort. I’m proud of everyone involved and what they give to the organization. Now we’ll start working on getting to 2,000.”
A native of Louisville, Cox grew up a couple of blocks away from Churchill Downs in Louisville’s South End and began working on the backside for trainers Jimmy Baker and Burt Kessinger before he became an assistant for trainer Dallas Stewart. He went out on his own in 2005 and has enjoyed a banner year in 2018, with six grade 1 victories, including the Longines Kentucky Oaks and Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff with likely champion 3-year-old filly Monomoy Girl. He is the fifth-leading trainer in North America in earnings and is fourth in wins.
While Cox is still overseeing his string of horses at his Churchill home base, his assistant Ricky Giannini saddled Play On to the trainer’s milestone victory.
“It’s always exciting,” Giannini said. “It’s been a steady climb to the top, so hopefully we get a thousand more.”
Owned by Klein Racing, Play On is a full sister to graded stakes winner Will Call. The 2-year-old daughter of Country Day was making her turf debut Sunday in the second start of her career. Country Day is standing in Louisiana at Peach Lane Farms for the 2019 breeding season.
“They don’t look a lot alike, but they both are horses that are obviously very nice,” Cox said. “Will Call broke his maiden earlier, but he was precocious. She showed some ability on the dirt, and we gave her a shot. She ran well that day and showed speed but got a little tired late after that race, so we thought we should target a turf sprint. She has a lot to accomplish, but she has a bright future.”