Before I got a whiff of the unmistakable Armani Code cologne wafting from across the Buckeye arena one blustery day during Congress, you might be surprised that my eagle eye was not drawn to Brian Cox, but to the truly remarkable black gelding he was riding. Imagine that - horse before a hottie? Y’all know this one had to be truly exceptional!
I can’t help but wonder when breeder Libby Trucco named the handsome 2009 colt, Historyrepeatsitself, that she had a premonition about his already illustrious career. Sired by Libby’s stallion, Repeated in Red, and out of a daughter of Dynamic Deluxe, “Abe’s” registered name had tremendous significance for Abe's trainer and rider, Brian Cox. After winning the 2005 Two Year Old GMC Futurity on Blazing N Crystals, history would repeat itself for Brian in 2011. He piloted the fancy youngster to wins in both the 2011 Limited Open and Open Divisions of the Two Year Old Congress Western Pleasure Futurity.
"Brian really used his talents and did his homework to make sure Abe peaked at the right time," breeder and former owner, Libby Trucco said. "It has truly been an incREDibile journey, especially being by my stallion, Repeated In Red, and a mare that we own and showed."
With impressive earnings in excess of $20,000 between the two classes, many top horse professionals suggested that Abe might have been the best two year-old on the grounds. Sold to Cheryl Mullikin three days before the Limited finals, Abe will now be under the direction of Wade Black. When I asked Cox if he had any sense of disappointment or sadness of his owner selling the horse, he noted that selling great horses is all business for him.
Although I love to tease my longtime friend a lot about his reputation as a “Horse Show Hottie”, when I caught up with Brian, it was business as usual for the hardworking pro. While some people might have been filling their barns with new training horses after such a great Congress win, and depositing their Congress paychecks, Brian was busy hauling cattle out of state the day after Congress. He calls it “Back to Reality."
His approach to the horse business is refreshingly different from many of the “super-sized” training barns boasting dozens of horses. Brian’s philosophy is “Although the win is gonna help my business, my thing is that I don’t take a bunch of horses. You only need a couple good horses. I don’t understand how these guys take all these horses to the horse show and think something is gonna happen. I knew Abe was ready when I left home."
Brian adds, "Coolest thing about the horse is that every time I showed him he wanted to do it. He is the most fun horse I have ever shown. He is unbelievable. No fight to him whatsoever."
Dressed smartly in his good luck black and red “Good Ride” shirt, Brian does not admit to being superstitious, but he did wear the same shirt for both the Limited and Open Finals. His ritual is one of solitude – he likes to be left alone with the horse to walk to the pen to avoid getting nervous. Libby Trucco donned a four leaf clover that belonged to her father which she will certainly continue to cherish after the impressive wins.
Asked how the group celebrated, and Brian laughingly said, let’s just say “We just hung out at the stalls with friends, family and owners." Brian is looking forward to riding additional horses for the Trucco family of Delaware, Ohio, whom he met while working for Ty Hornick years back.
I can’t help but wonder if there isn’t something in the Zanesville area water with such an impressive horse legacy coming from the quiet, remote Columbus suburb. With fellow trainer and mentor, Randy Wilson operating in the area, and world class horses like TNT Fluid Fred, Shifty Eyed Jackie, and MacAnnie Reynolds all realizing a Zanesville address during their fame, the picturesque rolling hill region is starting to gain a reputation as the “Blue Grass” horse community of Ohio. Although a native of Union City, Ohio, Brian Cox Quarter Horses proudly calls the oil and gas rich region of Mt. Perry home.
The 34 year old Cox credits his father, Wayne with helping him pick his horses. After looking at five or six other two year-olds, the duo agreed that Abe was the money horse. While Wayne, and Brian’s mother, Jana, are Brian’s biggest fans, he said that he could not make it work without the support of his assistant, Sue Shippman, to whom he is quick to give a large amount of credit.
To the local Zanesville residents, it’s not uncommon to find the fun-loving horse trainer, known as “Hollywood” to his friends, shooting pool in one of the local establishments or line dancing in a Columbus dance hall. A word of advice: look out because he’s as sharp with a pool stick as he is on training a horse! And if you see a big lion on the loose again in national headlines, please look twice! It might just be Brian’s huge Mastiff and sidekick named Burlie. I often joke that the large selection of music that amplifies from his show stalls that someday I’m going to hire Brian as a DJ. With his love and knowledge of music, I was a little surprised that he was seemingly off guard when I asked what song summed up the way he felt after his big wins. Brian replied, "Definitely a rap song."