Kentucky Derby Next for Magnum Moon
Magnum Moon made won the fourth straight race to start his career Saturday, capturing the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) in wire-to-wire fashion by 4 lengths. Magnum Moon looked magnificent as expected, showing his versatility and tactical speed before drifting out in the stretch and drawing off to win easily as the heavy 4-5 favorite. Quip was a stalking 2nd the entire way and finished a neck in front of Solomini. Both those runners will join Magnum Moon in the Kentucky Derby, but Combatant just missed his chance with a fourth place finish a neck behind Solomini.
Magnum Moon won 1⅛-mile Arkansas Derby in 1:49.86 before an estimated crowd of 64,500 at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, the final day of the track’s 2018 season and the Racing Festival of the South. Magnum Moon rewarded his betting backers returning $3.60 to win, and the victory was worth $600,000 to boost Magnum Moon’s career earnings to $1,177,800. The bay colt by Malibu Moon has won his other races coming from off the pace, but this time went to the front and never looked back with Luis Saez aboard.
“He showed his versatility”, said trainer Todd Pletcher. “He’s won a number of different ways now, and I think he’s proven that he’s the kind of horse that doesn’t need the race to unfold a certain way, that he’s able to kind of make his own race.”
Magnum Moon earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 98 – a career high, and now sits atop the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 150 points after earning 100 points for winning the Arkansas Derby.
No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Kentucky Derby without a start as a 2-year-old, but Magnum Moon will attempt to break the ‘Curse of Apollo’ on May 5 when he goes to the gate in the Kentucky Derby. He’ll also try to become the fourth winner of the Rebel and Arkansas Derby to capture the Kentucky Derby, following Sunny’s Halo (1983), Smarty Jones (2004) and American Pharoah (2015).
Pletcher said the “tentative” plan for Magnum Moon is to fly to Kentucky April 23 and breeze once at Churchill Downs – “probably” eight days before the Kentucky Derby
Magnum Moon will be one of the betting favorites in the Kentucky Derby, along with the likely favorite Justify, another undefeated colt who was also unraced as a 2-year-old.