The Eclipse Award-winning Monomoy Girl owns 10 wins in 12 starts—five coming in grade 1 stakes—making it curious that a grade 2 stakes is being viewed as a pivotal race for her.
But the highly popular 5-year-old mare’s career has steered far away from a traditional path in the last year and a half.
After winning the 2018 Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1) to become the champion 3-year-old filly, she has started just once in the past 20 months due to a couple of physical ailments. The daughter of Tapizar finally made it back to the races May 16 at Churchill Downs, shaking off the rust in a winning effort, but that 2 3/4-length score came in the humble setting of an allowance optional claiming race.
Given those circumstances, step two on the comeback trail promises to be more revealing.
Monomoy Girl will face four rivals July 11 in the $150,000 Ruffian Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park, a one-turn mile stakes for older fillies and mares that will offer a more challenging test than her comeback race and help her connections chart a course toward a return trip to the Breeders’ Cup.
“She’s doing great. It’s a good spot. This will be a good test. It’s the second start off the layoff against some good horses, and we’ll find out if she’s really back,” said Sol Kumin, who owns a share of the mare through his Monomoy Stables. “We didn’t want to rush her back. Obviously, we thought long and hard about the (June 13) Ogden Phipps (G1), but this was the right spot. We’ll see how it goes and plot out the rest of the year.”