Trainer Brad Cox said last spring that if prominent Arkansas automobile dealer Steve Landers would be patient, they would win races together. Cox was right.
Cox and Landers have teamed for 15 victories the last 10 months, including five this year at Oaklawn, where Landers begins the week as the meet’s co-third-leading owner.
Landers became Cox’s biggest client after the owner moved 11 horses at Oaklawn into his barn late last March. He was Oaklawn’s fourth-leading owner in 2014 with 11 victories, but was 0 for 18 at the 2015 meeting.
Turn Signal represented Cox’s first starter for Landers April 28 at Churchill Downs. Their first victory together was Riding First Class May 22 at Churchill Downs.
“He’s great to work with,” said Cox, who has 12 victories so far this meet. “We’ve got a good friendship/business relationship. It’s working well. We seem to be on the same page, and I think we’re going to have a great year.”
Cox has approximately 13 horses for Landers at Oaklawn, including unbeaten 3-year-old Dazzling Gem, who is scheduled to make his next start in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (G2) March 19 at Oaklawn. The Rebel is the final major local prep for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 16.
Cox is scheduled to send out Twirling Cinnamon, a 3-year-old Twirling Candy colt purchased for $180,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September Yearling Sale, for his local debut in Saturday’s fourth race, a second-level allowance/optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles. He is coming off a victory in the $50,000 Space City Jan. 30 at Sam Houston Race Park, the first stakes triumph in the Cox/Landers partnership.
“He wants good horses, there’s no doubt,” Cox said. “He’s like everybody. He wants to win races, but, obviously, he’d like to play the high end as well. We’re kind of hoping Dazzling Gem is going to be a nice 3-year-old for us.”