Murrill Scores Career Win 1,000

Guides the Brad Cox-trained Yin Yang to victory in Sunday’s sixth race

(New Orleans, LA – February, 6, 2022) – Just a little more than eight years into a career that began at Delta Downs on Halloween in 2013, jockey Mitchell Murrill won his 1,000th career race on Sunday at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, guiding Selective Racing’s Yin Yang (2.10-1 second choice) to victory for trainer Brad Cox in the day’s sixth race, an “off the turf” optional claiming/first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-old fillies.

         “I’ve got to thank Brad (trainer Cox),” Murrill said. “This is the first horse I’ve ridden for him in my career, so it’s kind of nice to get into the winner’s circle for him. He told me before the race that the horse (Yin Yang) was going to be keen and to try to get her to relax and keep her running forward. She did it today.”

Earlier on the card Murrill won the fourth race on Cypriano for trainer Chris Hartman, who just two days earlier reached a milestone of his own at Fair Grounds, winning his 1,500th career race. The duo has contributed greatly to each other’s success, teaming up for 82 wins since first joining forces four years ago. Following a five for ten winning streak, Murrill had been in an 0 for 23 slump prior to his fourth race score.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Murrill said of reaching the milestone. “All week it’s been pretty tough to get into the winner’s circle, but we got it done and I can’t be more grateful for everyone who has contributed.”

The 27-year-old native of Mobile, Alabama scored his first career win aboard Golden Barbara on May 28, 2014. Perennially in the top five in the jockey standings at both Fair Grounds and Arlington Park, he had a breakthrough meet in November at Churchill Downs, finishing fifth with 15 wins.  He earned a career-best $5,619,207 in purses in 2021 and counts the 2018 Fair Grounds Oaks (G3) aboard Chocolate Martini as his biggest win to date.

“Gerard Melancon helped me out from the very beginning when I started riding at Evangeline,” Murrill said. “It’s hard grinding, working. My agent Tim (Hanisch) is out here every day working hard, trying to make connections with everybody and trying to keep everybody happy. We are just trying to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.”

Murrill’s parents and girlfriend had been in attendance earlier in the week, awaiting the milestone win that didn’t come until Sunday.

“I told them if I didn’t win, they had to go home,” Murrill joked. “I wish they could have been here to share this with me.”


Louisiana-bred Picks Up Pieces to Stay Unbeaten in Jersey Girl

GI Belmont S.-winning conditioner Brad Cox grabbed one more stakes win for the road Sunday as unbeaten Australasia rallied past rivals to earn a first black-type victory out of Louisiana-bred company. An 8 1/4-length MSW winner at Fair Grounds last November, the dark bay reeled off a pair of dominant stakes scores at Delta Downs before annexing the two-turn Crescent City Oaks back in NOLA Mar. 20. She picked up another big check when shortening up for a GI Kentucky Oaks day allowance at Churchill Apr. 30, but was facing four talented foes who each owned a recent figure edge over her.

Australasia caboosed the field early after a brief delay when favorite Miss Brazil broke through the gate. Bella Sofia clicked off splits of :22.55 and :45.68 and the chalk challenged that one in upper stretch as Australasia still had work to do out wide. It still looked like it’d be one of those two to midstretch, but Australasia soon caught the eye and came flying with a well-timed ride to score by a widening margin.


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Australasia Takes Louisiana Jewel S.

Louisiana Jewel Stakes
Delta Downs, 1-12-21, 7.5 furlongs
3YO Accredited Louisiana Bred Fillies, $75,000

Australasia captures the 2021 Louisiana Jewel at Delta Downs
Australasia captures the 2021 Louisiana Jewel at Delta Downs

Sky Kingdom–Ayala Strand
Breeder: J. Adcock & Hume Wornall
Owner: Jean Etienne Dubois
Trainer: Brad H. Cox
Jockey: Diego Saenz

Wicked Strong–Inaword
Breeder: Gulf Haven Farm, LLC
Owner: Gulf Haven Farms
Trainer: Ronnie P. Ward
Jockey: Joel Dominguez

Tecate Time
Karakontie (JPN)–Urge to Splurge
Breeder: Carrol J. Castille
Owner: Whispering Oaks Farm LLC
Trainer: Steven B. Flint
Jockey: Gerard Melancon

Cox, Beschizza, Grady Secure Titles At Fair Grounds Meet

By Ryan Martin

For the third year in a row trainer Brad Cox is the winningest trainer at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.

Cox, 39, won a total of 53 races this season which replicated last year’s amount of trips to the winner’s circle for the Louisville, Ky. native. For the third straight year, Cox beat out trainer Joe Sharp who won 49 races this meet. Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen was the third leading conditioner with 30 wins.

In addition to being the overall leading trainer, Cox was also the leading trainer in term of stakes wins having won six stakes races. He scored stakes caliber triumphs with Beau Recall (Ire.) (Blushing K.D. Stakes and New Orleans Ladies Stakes), Contributing (Pan Zareta Stakes), Harlan Punch (Louisiana Stakes), and Marquee Prince (Lloyd “Captain” Maestri Memorial Stakes and Black Gold Stakes).

“It’s a great battle between me and Joe (Sharp),” Cox said. “I think we make each other better. It’s been a very exciting meet. There are great purses and very competitive racing with the option of the turf or the dirt. It’s a great track to train on with great weather. Tis a great place to winter. I want to thank my help at New York, Fair Grounds Oaklawn. We always have a set up at Louisiana Downs or Evangeline Downs. It’s worked out rally well. All the assistants have done a great job of having the horses ready to run on race day.”

While Cox scored a training title for the third straight year, jockey Adam Beschizza was the meet’s leading rider for the first time in only his second full year of riding at Fair Grounds. Beschizza, 26, won 82 races at the New Orleans oval finishing six wins ahead of James Graham who won 76 was unable to make a race of it early on Closing Day when took off his remaining mounts due to a sickness. Florent Geroux finished third in the standings with 65 wins. A native of Great Britain, Beschizza was last year’s second leading rider finishing one win behind Shaun Bridgmohan.

Four of Beschizza’s wins were at stakes level when he guided Midnight Fantasy to dual wins in the Louisiana Champions Day Lassie Stakes as well as the fillies’ division of the Louisiana Futurity. He also rode In the Navy to a win in the Mr. Sulu Overnight Stakes and Pretty Lady in the Pago Hop Stakes.

“I’m overwhelmed, this last week I was holding my breath a little bit,” Beschizza said. “James had been a champion himself in the past. He’s a great competitor and he’s kept me honest right until the line. He can play with us young guns as well. There are a lot of people to thank and none of this would be possible without their help. My agent Liz Morris, she’s done a great job keeping myself in line and intact. A lot of credit goes to her. I really appreciate her as a person, we’ve became really close since I came to America.”

Many of Beschizza’s victories during the Fair Grounds meet came when riding horses for trainer Joe Sharp.

“A lot of thanks also goes to Joe Sharp,” Beschizza said “He’s just been the life and soul of my career since I started in America. He’s a huge supporter of mine, he believes in me and that goes a long way and a huge talent. I thank him very much.”

While Beschizza was the winningest jockey overall, jockey Corey Lanerie won more stakes than any other rider at Fair Grounds when scoring at said caliber a total of six times. Lanerie’s stakes wins took place aboard Buggin Out (Magic City Classic), Underpressure (Louisiana Champions Day Classic and Dixie Poker Ace Stakes), Givemeaminit (Louisiana Champions Day Sprint), Classy John (Louisiana Futurity – colts division) and Bell’s the One (Allen “Black Cat” LaCombe Memorial Stakes).

Owner Brad Grady earned yet another Fair Grounds title for leading owner during the meet with 17 wins over Maggi Moss’ 13. Grady and Moss tied for leading owner last season when both won 12 races.

Highlights of the memorable 2018-19 racing season at Fair Grounds include dual graded stakes wins from Gary Barber’s War of Will who was unanimously named Horse of the Meet as the only horse all season long to win multiple graded stakes races at the New Orleans oval. The talented 3-year-old son of War Front was conditioned by Mark Casse whose assistant David Carroll oversees his string of horses at Fair Grounds. He won the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Grade II Risen Star Stakes and earned 60 points on the Road To The Kentucky Derby in doing so.

Other notable moments include Allied Racing’s By My Standards taking the 106th Grade II Louisiana Derby on the penultimate day of the meet for trainer Bret Calhoun punching his ticket to the Grade I $3 million Kentucky Derby on May 4 having earned 100 qualifying points towards the First Saturday in May. Trainer Larry Jones won his fourth Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks Presented by with Street Band, who earned 100 points towards the Grade I $1.5 million Kentucky Oaks. Grade I Pegasus World Cup Turf winner Bricks and Mortar took an exciting edition of the Grade II Muniz Memorial Handicap when battling down a stubborn longshot in Markitoff to win by a slim margin. Joel Politi’s Serengeti Empress opened many eyes when running away to victory in the Grade II Rachel Alexandra Stakes on Feb 16 in the race before War of Will’s triumph in the Risen Star.

Other than War of Will, nine other horses won multiple stakes events this meet. Marquee Prince (Blushing K.D. Stakes and New Orleans Ladies Stakes), Bell’s the One (Letellier Memorial Stakes and Allen “Black Cat” LaCombe Memorial Stakes) and Beau Recall (Lloyd “Captain” Maestri Memorial Stakes and Black Gold Stakes) successfully defeated open company while Midnight Fantasy (Louisiana Champions Day Lassie and Louisiana Futurity – fillies division), Classy John (Louisiana Champions Day Juvenile and Louisiana Futurity – colts division), Remember Daisy(Tom Benson Memorial Overnight Stakes and Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Turf Stakes), Ours to Run (Happy Ticket Stakes and Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Sprint) and Underpressure (Louisiana Champions Day Classic and Dixie Poker Ace) won multiple times against their Louisiana-bred counterpart in state-bred stakes. Wynn Time was the only horse this meet to win multiple stakes events when he took the Thanksgiving Handicap, Bonapaw Stakes and Duncan F. Kenner Stakes.

Trainer Brad Cox Gets Win No. 1,000

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.”

Cox, Bridgmohan Secure Titles While Maggi Moss and Brad Grady Tie For Winningest Owner; Synchrony Named Horse Of The Meet


Trainer Brad Cox and jockey Shaun Bridgmohan added another Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots championship title to their accomplished resumes for the 2017-18 Winter Meet while owners Maggi Moss and Brad Grady tied for winningest owner with 12 victories apiece.

Moss won her first title at the Fair Grounds since the Winter Meet in 2014-15, where she scored 15 victories. It was a first title for owner Brad Grady, whose meet was highlighted by stakes victories with Triple Chelsea in the Jan 5 Pan Zareta Stakes and the March 10 Nelson J. Menard Memorial Overnight Stakes. Triple Chelsea was trained by Joe Sharp and ridden by jockey Adam Beschizza, who both finished second in their respective divisions.

“It means something to me,” Grady said of his title win. “It’s a cherry on the top.  A lot of hard work goes into this, for (trainer) Joe (Sharp) especially. (Jockey) Adam (Beschizza) is a good kid, he came over (from England) two years back and we knew he could really ride. When he came for this meet and Joe asked me if I would support him and I said ‘Absolutely’.”

It was a second consecutive winningest meet for trainer Brad Cox who exited the Winter Meet with 54 trips to the winner’s circle at a 30% win rate. The highlight for Cox’s meet came when Monomoy Girl (one of the favorites for the Gr. I $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks) took the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes on February 17. Other strakes events won by Cox trainees include the December 30 Woodchopper Stakes which was won by Mr. Misunderstood. He took two homebred stakes events with Inveniam Viam who found the winner’s circle twice throughout the meet in the Si Cima Stakes on November 18 and the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes. Other Louisiana-bred stakes winners for Cox this meet were Dontmesswithjoanne, winner of the Red Camelia on March 17 and Extra Credit who won the Louisiana Champions Day Turf Stakes on December 9.

In a race that ended up going right down to the wire, jockey Shaun Bridgmohan scored his first title since taking the 2009-10 Winter Meet. Bridgmohan scored 66 victories on the meet, only one up on newcomer Adam Beschizza. Defending leading rider Florent Geroux was taking aim at his third straight leading Fair Grounds meet, but finished third with 63 victories.

“It was a very fun meet,” Bridgmohan said. “Obviously a lot of credit goes out to my agent (Anthony Martin), he puts me on the right horses. I’ve ridden for some good horsemen and won some nice races this meet. Hard work and dedication came together. It was a competitive jocks room, everyone was in the mix and it goes to show you how competitive it was. It wasn’t a runaway win.”

Stakes victories from Bridgmohan include the Allen “Black Cat” Memorial Overnight Stakes, where he guided Kabella to victory. Earlier in the meet, he teamed up with winning trainer Brad Cox with Extra Credit in the Louisiana Champions Day Turf as well as Inveniam Viam in the Si Cima Stakes on November 18 and the Louisiana Champions Day Ladies Stakes on December 9.

The series of prep races on Churchill Downs’ Road To The Kentucky Derby and Oaks proved themselves to be quite competitive this Winter Meet with different horses showing up to the winner’s circle after each race. Invaders swept the Kentucky Derby prep races with Southern California shipper Instilled Regard taking the Gr. III Lecomte Stakes for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. The Gr. II Risen Star Stakes was won by Bravazo, who shipped from Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas’s base at Oaklawn Park. In the final local prep for the Derby, Noble Indy gave trainer Todd Pletcher his fourth win in the Gr. II Louisiana Derby Presented by Meanwhile, the Road To The Kentucky Oaks at the Fair Grounds kicked off with an upset victory from Stronger Than Ever in the Silverbulletday Stakes for trainer Kenny McPeek. In the Gr. II Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Monomoy Girl won her 3-year-old debut for leading trainer Brad Cox while Chocolate Martini took the Gr. II TwinSpires Fair Grounds Oaks for New Orleans native and trainer Tom Amoss.

Pin Oak Stable’s Synchrony was voted Horse of the Winter Meet by Fair Grounds media and racing officials as the only horse to score multiple graded stakes victories this meet. Trained by Mike Stidham, the son of Tapit won the Gr. III Fair Grounds Handicap and Gr. II Muniz Memorial Stakes, both events were contested over the Stall-Wilson Turf Course.

“We are thrilled to have completed another successful live Thoroughbred meet here at Fair Grounds,” said Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots President Doug Shipley. “Once again, we’ve had a competitive jockey group, as well as top quality Thoroughbreds representing some of the most successful horsemen from around the country. That coupled with the fact that we are about to open two new state of the art off-track-wagering facilities in the New Orleans metropolitan area that will continue to bolster our purses for many years to come is equally as exciting. We could not have done this well without the help of our team members who do a great job putting on a spectacular show throughout the meet as well as our loyal guests who show excellent support for the track. This was an exciting meet for everyone affiliated with the Fair Grounds and we look forward to continuing our successful momentum throughout the year.”

Live Thoroughbred action will resume in November.