Brazilian champion Roxinho (inside) wins first race in nearly two years.

Brazilian champion Roxinho (inside) wins first race in nearly two years.

Pat Lang

Brazilian Champ Happy to Be Buckeye for a Day

Brazil's Horse of the Year and 3-year-old champion for 2002 made it back to the races after an almost two-year absence May 29 and did it with style.

Roxinho, owned by Greg Fox and Earle Mack, won an $11,500 open allowance test on the turf at River Downs in Ohio. It was the 7-year-old gelding's first start since Aug. 30, 2003, when he finished second in a handicap on the grass at Arlington Park.

"This is an amazing comeback after two years," said Fox, who also trains Roxinho and is a veterinarian. "We bought our farm in October and turned it into a rehabilitation center. We built a turf course just for Roxinho, and it appears he has graduated with flying colors. We nominated him to the (May 30) Louisville Handicap (at Churchill Downs), but decided to pass that for this spot."

Gavin Faulkner was the winning jockey May 29. Roxinho (Thignon Lafre--Miss Bob, by Especulante) covered the 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf in 1:30.20. One Bad Dude was a head back in second, while Floater finished third.

Mack purchased Roxinho in 2001after he had won the first two legs of Brazil's Triple Crown. Roxinho then won the third leg. All three events are classified as group I.

Though Roxinho won the races in 2001, the Brazilian racing season extended into 2002 because of the Southern Hemisphere calendar. Thus, he earned his accolades that year.

Roxinho was sent to the United States in 2002. He made seven starts and had one win--in the Tri-State Handicap on the turf at Ellis Park. In 2003, he sustained a rear-leg injury, Fox said.

"He just wasn't healing at first so we took our time," Fox said. "It was a team effort. My wife, Jamie, is the real trainer, and we worked together with former River Downs jockey Mike Heath to get him back to his prior form. Jamie couldn't be here to celebrate because she is expecting our first child at any time now."

Fox and his wife operate Fox Stables in Lexington.

For Roxinho, the May 29 win was the seventh of his career. He has banked $192,733 in 22 career starts.