LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville native Brad Cox has his sights set on winning his second Kentucky Derby.
He won it last year, but it was not how he wanted it to go down. His horse, Mandaloun, finished second in the race. Bob Baffert’s horse, Medina Spirit, crossed the wire first but was disqualified for a banned substance.
"The thing with winning the Kentucky Derby is the thrill of victory and the excitement," Cox said. "You don’t feel like you won the Derby when you get a text message saying you won the Derby. You want to experience it. You want your horse to cross the wire first. You want to put the roses across your horse and walk into the winner’s circle. That’s what it’s all about."
He’s back in business again this year with three Derby horses qualifying for the race: Cyberknife, Tawney Port and Zozos.
Cyberknife won the Arkansas Derby and is sixth in the points heading into the Kentucky Derby. Tawney Port won the Lexington Stakes and is 12th in the points, and ZoZos finished second in the Louisiana Derby and sits at 15th in the points.
Cox has great confidence in his Derby horses and likes his shot at winning the Garland of Roses. Sure, it takes speed on the track, but he also must get the horses mentally ready for the activities and sounds surrounding the race.
"We school them Derby week two or three times around a big crowd," Cox said. "Derby day with Essential Quality walking over with him, I was a little concerned about how he would act. There were drones flying overhead. The crowd was loud, but he was good with it. He didn’t mind it at all."
The horses get a taste of the crowd noise, drones, helicopters and intensity as they walk from the barn to the paddock. People are yelling at the horses and trainers. Cox said its intense but he focuses on keeping the horses calm and relaxed. It took thousands, if not millions of dollars just to get to that moment.
"I’ve kind of put myself in a situation like the horse," Cox said. "I might get a little nervous but I’m zeroed in on the horse and how they are acting during the walk over. Once I lug the rider up and they get out on the track, we have about eight to 10 minutes before they enter the gate. That’s when I get a little nervous. It’s out of my hands at that point. I hand the reigns over to the jock, and it’s up to them."
Today, the major training is over, and Cox and his team have the horses ready to roll for Kentucky Derby 148. On Saturday, it’s time to line up and run for glory. Here’s what Cox said he will do if one of his horses crosses the finish line first.
"I may celebrate a little bit and probably get up the next morning and come to work." Cox said. "I know that’s what I would do. That’s what I do every day. This is a labor of love. And once again, you must keep pressing forward. Probably try to win the Preakness, the day after the Kentucky Derby. That’s the kind of mindset you must be successful at this."
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