Mag­num Moon dom­i­nates in Arkansas

The Record (Troy, NY) - - SPORTS - Jeff Scott

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.

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