Kenny Cox barn enjoying strong Laurel meet

Things were, trainer Kenny Cox acknowledges, “a little slow the beginning of this year.”

Now, though, they seem to be falling into place. Just 2-for-33 on the year when the current Laurel Park meet began, Cox has been on a 7-for-17 tear at the meet.

That gives him nine wins for the season, equalling his total of 2021, and puts him on pace to have his best year since 2006, when he won 16 races. Only seven trainers have more wins at the Laurel meet to date, and all have made about double or more the number of starts than the Cox barn has.

“We’ve had a lot of horses with conditions, right spots coming back,” Cox said. “Everybody seems like they’re coming around at the right time.”

Cox has two runners entered this coming racing weekend at Laurel, both on Friday. Dundalk is 2-1 in the day’s second race, while Bowie Two Step is 12-1.

But lest you think that means that Bowie Two Step is a no-hoper, realize that only one of Cox’s winners at the meet has gone off as the favorite. The longest-priced winner of the lot, Cynergy’s Star, was 23-1 when he won a Maryland-bred allowance July 15. 

In all, placing a $2 win wager on all of Cox’s runners at the meet would have cost you $34. His seven winners have retired a total of $120.20.

“A few of them – I’m not gonna lie – surprised me,” Cox admitted. “A few of them weren’t shockers at big prices; we always thought highly of them. It’s just, you know, one of those perfect storms.”

While Cynergy’s Star is already a stakes winner, having scored in last summer’s Timonium Juvenile Stakes, perhaps the most interesting runner of the group is Ain’t Da Beer Cold. The Maryland-bred Freedom Child gelding, bred by Cox’s wife Kelly and Matt Spencer, is owned by the two of them in partnership with Bonucelli Racing.

Ain’t Da Beer Cold had pretty much a lost 2021, missing the first seven months of what would ultimately be a winless season. He’s bounced back this year with two wins, giving him four for his career from 19 starts, with a lifetime bankroll of $211,954.

  • Kenny Cox trains Ain't Da Beer Cold. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Kenny Cox trains Ain't Da Beer Cold. Photo by The Racing Biz.
  • Ain't Da Beer Cold won an allowance at Laurel Park. Photo Jim McCue.

On July 29, under jockey Victor Carrasco, Ain’t Da Beer Cold decisively won a second-level allowance at Laurel while earning a career-best Equibase speed figure of 101. It seems he may be finally finding the quality he flashed when second by a nose in the 2020 Howard County Stakes as a two-year-old.

“We had some setbacks early last fall that he has come back the way we thought he would,” Cox said. “Redid some things, some bloodwork that was off.”

Ain’t Da Beer Cold has been one-two-three in five of seven outings this year, the lone exceptions a sixth-place finish in the April 23 Native Dancer Stakes and then a disappointing seventh-place result in an allowance on the Preakness undercard.

“The race at Pimlico, I thought he was doing great,” the trainer remembered. “But he popped a quarter-crack in that race, so toss that race.”

Since, though, Ain’t Da Beer Cold has run two good races and, if all goes according to plan, looks to be on track for a date in the October 22 Maryland Million Classic.

“Last year, we ran and ran terrible. This year, we want to make account,” Cox said. “So it’s about a plan to get there and not just pick races and put him in to make it work out. That’s our ultimate goal with him.”