Funny Moon rallies for CCA Oaks win
Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely III's FUNNY MOON (Malibu Moon) put in a game late rally down the center of the track to post a neck score in Saturday's $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (G1). The Christophe Clement trainee, the 5-2 morning-line favorite, exited the gate as the 7-1 fifth choice and returned $17.20, $8.50 and $6.70 to her faithful backers while keying the $248.50 exacta and $1,663 trifecta.
Jockey Alan Garcia settled Funny Moon into the back of the eight-filly field while Mike Luzzi and Devotee (Elusive Quality) set the pace on the front end. Casanova Move (Langfuhr) and Wynning Ride (Candy Ride [Arg]) were content to track in the second flight as Devotee posted fractions of :23 4/5, :47 and 1:10 3/5. Wynning Ride and Casanova Move challenged for the lead nearing the quarter-pole, with the former sticking her head in front through a mile in 1:35 4/5 and holding the advantage into the stretch. Don't Forget Gil (Kafwain), who had raced just in behind Casanova Move and Wynning Ride on the backstretch, found herself trapped along the inside and was angled out by rider Rajiv Maragh to begin her rally nearing the wire.
All the maneuvering on the part of those three was for naught, though, as Funny Moon closed down the center of the track and just got her neck in front on the line to secure her first stakes victory. The three-year-old lass finished 1 1/4 miles on the fast Belmont Park dirt in 2:02 2/5.
"She's the most lovely mover, my filly," Clement said. "She's very efficient and she has a very long stride. I thought we were definitely in the right spot (today), I even thought that (Garcia) moved a bit early in the turn, but obviously Alan knew more about the race than I did.
"I'm not sure what's next, I want to enjoy this first."
Don't Forget Gil got up by a half-length over Wynning Ride to take second, paying $11.40 and $8.40 at 15-1. Wynning Ride gave back $5.40 at 6-1, and it was another half-length back to Casanova Move, who completed the $7,610 superfecta (8-3-2-6) as the 5-1 second choice. Livin Lovin (Birdstone), the even-money favorite, followed by another half-length, while Hightap (Tapit), What a Pear (E Dubai) and Devotee rounded out the order under the wire.
Funny Moon took two tries to break her maiden, getting the job done by 2 3/4 lengths on March 18 at Gulfstream Park, then was given a two-month break. She returned to easily pass her first-level allowance conditions by three lengths, but wasn't able to challenge next out while making her stakes bow in the Acorn S. (G1). Steadied in that mile test, the chestnut lass round up eighth of nine but rebounded in a big way by taking an allowance/optional claimer prior to this one by 8 1/4 lengths. With the winner's share from the CCA Oaks, Funny Moon tripled her earnings to $265,900 and now owns a 6-4-1-0 career mark.
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald J. Stautberg, Funny Moon sold for $175,000 as a Fasig-Tipton August yearling. Out of the Easy Goer mare Fun Crowd, she is a half-sister to dual stakes winner Throng (Silver Deputy), stakes-placed Home Crowd (Came Home) and a 2009 Scat Daddy colt. Funny Moon also has an unnamed full yearling sister.
Fun Crowd is herself a half-sibling to a number of black-type runners and producers, including 1985 champion older horse Vanlandingham (Cox's Ridge) and Grade 1-placed stakes winner Jenkins Ferry (True Colors). Her half-sisters have produced the likes of English Group 1 winner and sire Distant Music (Distant View), Grade/Group 2 scorer Kirkwall (GB) (Selkirk) and Grade 3 victor Top Hit (Twining). Other notables in the family include 1980 champion three-year-old colt and Belmont S. (G1) hero Temperence Hill (Stop the Music).
Contentious Schuylerville kicks off Saratoga meet
Wednesday's $100,000 Schuylerville S. (G3) is a fitting opening-day feature at Saratoga, as the six-furlong test is a microcosm of the Spa season. Now in its 91st running, the Schuylerville combines a palpable sense of history, a competitive field of 13 juvenile fillies from top connections, and the hope of seeing a star in action.
The Wesley Ward-trained AEGEAN (Northern Afleet) will try to get back on track after finishing ninth in the Albany S. (Eng-G3) at Royal Ascot. The bay had won both of her previous American outings, including a victory over her erstwhile stablemate Jealous Again (Trippi) in the Kentucky Juvenile S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. Jealous Again went on to conquer the Queen Mary S. (Eng-G2) next time out and was promptly snapped up by Godolphin.
Aegean signaled her happiness to return to dirt with a bullet half-mile in :46 4/5 at Monmouth on July 17, best of 56 works at the distance. She picks up the services of Jesus Castanon.
Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas will send out the undefeated DECELERATOR (Dehere), who remained perfect from two starts with a hard-fought decision in the Debutante S. (G3) at Churchill Downs. The dark bay will break from post 5, just to the outside of Aegean, beneath a returning Julien Leparoux.
The ever-dangerous Steve Asmussen will be represented by the uncoupled duo of HOT DIXIE CHICK (Dixie Union) and KINSOLVING (Posse). Hot Dixie Chick was just outdueled by Decelerator in her debut, but she improved second time out to break her maiden in track-record time at Churchill. Robby Albarado sticks with the dark bay, who promises to come out smoking from her rail post.
"She's stepping up from a maiden win to stakes company, but she's very precocious," assistant trainer Scott Blasi said of Hot Dixie Chick. "She's done well, and her last work (five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.44 on July 19) was pretty sharp."
Kinsolving turned in the same time as Hot Dixie Chick on the Oklahoma training track that day. Unlike her stablemate, Kinsolving should drop back off the pace with new rider Edgar Prado. Sixth to Aegean in the Kentucky Juvenile, she is coming off a third to Decelerator in the Debutante.
Ken McPeek will also be double-handed, courtesy of impressive Churchill debut maiden winners VIVID COLORS (Roman Ruler) and BEAUTICIAN (Dehere). With Albarado getting off both of them, Calvin Borel takes over the reins for Vivid Colors, and Kent Desormeaux teams up with Beautician.
Other contenders include FRANNY FREUD (Freud), runner-up in the My Dear S. at Woodbine last time out, and sharp maiden scorers COWGIRL MALLY (Gone West), SASSY IMAGE (Broken Vow), SO N SO (Freud), THAT'S HOW I ROLL (Speightstown) and WILD WITHOUT WINE (Kela).
Earlier on Wednesday's card, Grade 2-winning millionaire PYRO (Pulpit) will make his seasonal reappearance, and Godolphin debut, in the $80,500 James Marvin S. at seven furlongs. Formerly trained by Asmussen, the dark bay was a powerful winner of the 2008 Louisiana Derby (G2), Risen Star S. (G3) and Northern Dancer S. (G3) while placing in such contests as the Travers S. (G1) and Jim Dandy S. (G2) at Saratoga.
Pyro, who was last seen finishing sixth in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile on Pro-Ride, will face eight opponents. His most serious challengers are last year's U.A.E. Derby (UAE-G2) victor HONOUR DEVIL (Arg) (Honour and Glory), now with Kiaran McLaughlin; recent Tom Fool H. (G2) runner-up RILEY TUCKER (Harlan's Holiday); Aristides S. (G3) winner BOLD START (Jump Start); and multiple Grade 3 hero FINALLYMADEIT (Concerto), exiting a fourth in the Suburban H. (G1).
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