Magnum Moon dominates in Arkansas
Magnum Moon dominates in Arkansas fter Magnum Moon got away with a leisurely three-quarters ( 1:13.34) in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby, without being asked for much, the set- up did not look promising for his eight rivals. Turning for home, jockey Luis Saez gave the undefeated colt a bit more rein, and within strides a head advantage had turned into lengths. The son of Malibu Moon veered out badly in the stretch but still finished up four lengths in front. Second- and third-place finishers Quip and Solomini, like Magnum Moon, will race next at Churchill Downs.
The Arkansas Derby officially ended the 2018 Kentucky Derby prep schedule. The most memorable race between top contenders remains the San Felipe, in which
Bolt d’Oro edged McKinzie after a stretch-long battle. Unfortunately, a subsequent injury caused McKinzie to miss a rematch in the Santa Anita Derby, nor will he compete in the Triple Crown. Injury has also sidelined Sunland Derby winner Runaway Ghost, another Derby qualifier.
This year’s six most important preps, each worth 100 qualifying points to the winner – the Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes, and the Santa Anita, Florida, Louisiana and Arkansas derbies – were notable for several reasons. First, favorites won five of them – and finished second in the sixth. The only “upset” came in the Wood, where Vino Rosso (4-1) bested 6-5 choice Enticed by three lengths.
Second, with the exception of the Louisiana Derby, where Noble Indy held off Lone Sailor by a neck, none of the six races was par-
ticularly close. The average winning margin in the other five was almost three lengths.
Finally, horses conditioned by Todd Pletcher won four of these races: MagnumMoon, Noble Indy, Vino Rosso and Audible ( Florida Derby). Bob Baffert and Chad Brown won the other two with Justify (Santa Anita Derby) and Good Magic ( Blue Grass), respectively. Pletcher won his four preps with just six starters; the other two finished off the board. The seven-time Eclipse-Awardwinning trainer will be attempting to win his third Kentucky Derby, following Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017.
Monomoy Girl, Midnight Bisou headed for Oaks
With attention zeroed in on the Kentucky Derby, contenders for the Kentucky Oaks often labor in relative obscurity. This year’s Oaks should offer a showdown between Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou, who have shown themselves to be the class of their division. Both three-year-
old fillies are undefeated in 2018 – while facing small, overmatched fields – and both are coming off decisive Grade 1 scores.
A week ago Saturday, at Keeneland, Monomoy Girl wired the Ashland by 5½ lengths as the 1-5 favorite; back in February, the daughter of Tapizar overcame a troubled start to take the Rachel Alexandra by 2½. On the same Saturday, out in California, Midnight Bisou came from off the pace to win the Santa Anita Oaks by 3½ lengths as the 3-5 choice; it was her third open-lengths graded victory of the year.
Monomoy Girl and Midnight Bisou showed promise but were not prominent as two-year- olds. Divisional champ Caledonia Road, winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, and dual Grade 1 winner Moonshine Memories have yet to race in 2018.
Jeff Scott writes about horse racing Tuesday in The Saratogian. He may be reached at utahpine1@ aol.com.