This year’s Kentucky Derby saw ramifications that bleed into this weekend’s Preakness Stakes. There was the controversial finish: Country House beat Maximum Security after the latter was disqualified for bumping War of Will.
Maximum Security owner Gary West is sitting the horse out of spite, while Country House is out due to illness. That leaves new contenders such as Owendale for an open avenue to victory.
Born in 2016, the bay colt out of Kentucky is the product of Into Mischief and Aspen Light. Go back one generation, and Owendale has roots to 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini (Aspen Light’s sire).
Jockey Florent Geroux, owner Jim Rupp and trainer Brad Cox will try to replicate that history with Owendale this weekend at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore. Here’s what you need to know about them.
Owendale Jockey: Florent Geroux
Geroux is the French-born jockey who rode Roadster to an uninspiring No. 15 finish at Churchill Downs. That result doesn’t reflect the 32-year old’s full body of work.
According to Bloodhorse, he has 1,400 career wins, “highlighted by five Breeders’ Cup wins (including the 2017 Classic with Gun Runner) and the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes (G1) (Gun Runner).” This has seen him rake in nearly $85 million in career earnings, as our own Caroline Burke explained ahead of the Derby:
Geroux hasn’t slowed down in 2019, earning more than $3.7 million in 362 starts, Equibase reports. His career high came in 2018, when he earned more than $21 million riding horses. That doesn’t mean that’s his net worth or that he’s taken all of that home; the jockey doesn’t get the full purse, of course. Most earn between $100,000 and $200,000 a year.
Now an American citizen, he is married to Kasey Spindler and has two daughters named Olivia Matilde and Celine. He would have to buck precedent to bring them back a Preakness title, as his best finish at the moment was in sixth (Laoban in 2016).
Owendale Owner: Jim Rupp of Rupp Racing
Jim Rupp is a relative newcomer to the world of Thoroughbred racing. The Bay City (Mich.) native was in the oil business until 2015. As Bloodhorse states, he “struck a gusher right off the bat” with 2015 Commonwealth Turf Stakes winner Almasty.
His path to finding Owendale was serendipitous. He met with bloodstock agent Mike Ryan in 2017 and asked him to pick out a horse. It just so happened to have the Preakness lineage with Bernardini.
Rupp inherited his love of horse racing from his father, who took him to races at the old Detroit Race Course, which was demolished in 1999.
“He had a love of the game,” Rupp said. “He and a group of his friends would travel to the Breeders’ Cup every year. That is where my interest came in.”
Owendale Trainer: Brad Cox
Rupp may have fallen into a great horse, but he made sure to compile a great team. With Geroux as the rider, he employed the help of upcoming trainer Brad Cox. Their working relationship started with Almasty in 2015.
Born and raised in Louisville, Ky., Brad Cox began his career under trainers Burt Kessinger and Jimmy Baker, later earning a job as an assistant to trainer Dallas Stewart. Cox launched his solo training career in 2005 and has since trained multiple graded stakes Chocolate Ride and Call Pat as well as top-tier runners Spelling Again, Almasty, and Carve. In 2018, Cox was the leading trainer at the Fair Grounds meet that ended March 31 with 54 winners.
In his career, he has earned over $46 million on the back of 1,101 wins. According to Paulick Report, this is Cox’s first Triple Crown race. He does have two starters between Owendale and Warrior’s Charge. He is looking for greater success at Pimlico than his recent history.
Cox has run only three horses at Pimlico in the past. Carve was seventh in the 2014 Pimlico Special (G3), Dazzling Gem was third in the 2016 Sir Barton and Good Move was sixth in last year’s Miss Preakness (G3).
“We’ve not had that much luck yet,” Cox said. “Hopefully we get that turned around tomorrow.”