By Chris Lomon / @ChrisLomon
It was a victory Gail Cox perhaps didn’t quite see coming a mile and a sixteenth away, but one that was a game changer for the trainer and the striking Sam-Son Farm homebred.
The odds, 6-1 on the Woodbine infield toteboard, suggested Tidal Forces had a decent shot at winning the allowance optional claiming main track race this past Saturday at the Toronto oval.
Cox also figured he had a reasonable chance at taking the spoils.
“He ran so well in his first start [April 10, at Gulfstream] I really like him. Running that first race at Gulfstream, it’s tough there. He ran so well and it was a very impressive effort.”
As was his encore at Woodbine.
At the end of the 8.5-furlong main track race, the 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon crossed the wire a half-length winner under Emma-Jayne Wilson.
Although Cox wasn’t certain Tidal Forces, who was unraced at 2, could get up in time for the victory, Wilson had no doubt about the outcome.
“It impressed me that he settled so nicely. Emma said he had the measure of them the whole way. When they were turning for home and down the lane, I thought, ‘Is he going to get there?’ When I talked to Emma after the race, she said she knew they would. I thought, maybe, he wouldn’t have enough speed for there, but I think he did. In hindsight, when you watch the replay, you could see that he did have the measure of them the whole time.”
While there are still key races to be run ahead of the Queen’s Plate (August 22), the big picture has now come into sharper focus for Tidal Forces’ connections.
Listed at 50-1 in the Queen’s Plate Winterbook (woodbine.com/woodbine-news/weyburn-tops-winterbook-edition-of-the-2021-queens-plate-power-rankings/), the Ontario-bred has now stamped himself as a legitimate Plate contender.
Aside from his physical talents, Tidal Forces demeanor has impressed Cox from day one.
“He’s a pretty cool guy. He eats well and he’s pretty easy to deal with. He walks over the paddock calmly. He’s just very professional in everything he does. There are times when you see little signs of immaturity, losing focus a little bit, but I’m really happy with everything when it comes to him.”
Cox doesn’t dial back that high praise even if Tidal Forces can be, at times, somewhat laid back.
“When you’re walking out to the track with him, you’d almost think he’s lazy. He kind of wanders out and wanders back. But when you turn around to gallop him, he’s quite powerful. And that’s just the type of horse you love to have, one who can turn the dial from laid-back to all business.”
Those aren’t the only things that have stuck with Tidal Forces.
Although he no longer showcases a particular look, the sobriquet bestowed upon him has stayed.
“We call him ‘Brutus,’ said Cox with a laugh. “As a young horse, he had this huge neck, a big, fat, wide neck. As he’s grown up, he’s certainly lengthened out a bit and become much more refined. He’s really quite beautiful.”
A horse that looks to be a bona fide Plate contender.
That said, Cox, in search of her first win in the $1 million classic, will endeavor to rein in her emotions as the road to the big day continues to intensify.
“I’m really happy we got to run him at Woodbine because he is going to need a couple of races now that we are planning towards running him in the Plate. He’s got to get some experience. But after these two races, it makes you confident in taking the next step.”