Magnum Moon Cruises To Arkansas Derby Win

James Marshall
April 16, 2018

Magnum Moon stayed ideal Saturday in winning the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.

Magnum Moon joins Graeme Hall (2000), Balto Star (2001), Overanalyze (2013) and Danza (2014) as Arkansas Derby winners trained by Pletcher, whose first of two Kentucky Derby triumphs came in 2010 with Arkansas Derby runner-up Super Saver. Florida Derby winner Audible is third (110 points), Louisiana Derby winner Noble Indy is fourth (110) and Wood Memorial winner Vino Rosso is fifth (107).

The Arkansas Derby offered 170 points (100-40-20-10) to the top four finishers toward starting eligibility for the Kentucky Derby. "Very pleased with the outcome". A little concerned that he drifted out the last part, but it looked liked he sort of halfway thought about jumping over the tire marks when he went by the 1/8 pole where the gate was and sort of skipped over those.

Made the 4-5 favorite off the strength of an equally impressive tally in the GII Rebel S. March 17 in Hot Springs, the bay tried his hand at setting the pace Saturday and ran away in the stretch despite drifting well out into the track to register a four-length score.

"I thought he finished with good energy and was pulling away from some nice horses", Pletcher said by phone.

Magnum Moon paid $3.60, $2.80 and $2.40. He also captured the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn earlier in the spring.

Even with Solomini back in for the Arkansas Derby and graded stakes victor Quip shipping in for his first try in a top-level test, Magnum Moon was sent off as the clear 4-5 favorite in the nine-horse field Saturday.

Turns out the favorite had nothing to worry about, as Magnum Moon cruised to a four length win over Quip and Solomini in a time of 1:49.86. I am just going to stay there and he was very comfortable into the turn. "We were in a good position (and) he broke really sharp".

"I thought it (his race) was very good". He was traveling pretty good. When his winning position was hotly contested on the far turn, Magnum Moon kept his strong pace, winning by five lengths.

"I was anxious all day, anxious about the track condition and how he might respond".

Of Magnum Moon, "He had me anxious to death when I saw we were on the lead", said Robert Low. He showed his versatility. "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 and Quip battled for the early lead, with Magnum Moon setting the pace with fractions of 23.1 seconds for the quarter-mile, 48.3 seconds for the half-mile and 1:13.1 for three-quarters.

Solomini, third in the Arkansas Derby and second in the Rebel, is pointing for the Kentucky Derby, Justin Zayat, racing and stallion manager for Zayat Stables, LLC, which co-owns the Curlin colt, said in a text Sunday morning.

"When Luis smooched to his horse, I knew he wanted the lead", Geroux said. Bettors made Magnum Moon, trained by Todd Pletcher, the 4-5 favorite in a field of nine.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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