Robert and Lawana Low’s Magnum Moon earned 50 points toward making the Kentucky Derby starting gate with a 3 ½-length romp in the $900,000 Rebel Stakes (GII) at Oaklawn Park Saturday. The Todd Pletcher-trained son of Malibu Moon was ridden to his first career stakes victory by regular jockey Luis Saez and remains undefeated in three starts for career earnings of $577,800.
Magnum Moon now sits fifth on the list of Kentucky Derby hopefuls, behind Bolt D’Oro, Enticed, Bravazo and Promises Fulfilled, and owns the same amount of points as Quip.
After a clean break, Magnum Moon got good stalking position early in the 10-horse field and sat comfortably just behind the front-running Title Ready while racing wide around the first turn and up the backstretch through spits of of :23.42 and :47.15 for the first half-mile. The favored Solomini and Curlin’s Honor were also up close to the pace and just to Magnum Moon’s inside.
Ready to make his move as the frontrunner rounded the bend, Saez asked his mount for his best run and they made ground on the leader with each stride, taking command at the top of the stretch and easily holding off a determined Solomini and the late-closing Combatant to claim the win. Magnum Moon was in front to post a mile in 1:36.39 and finished up the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.68 over a fast track.
Title Ready held on for fourth and was followed by Sporting Chance, Zing Zang, High North, Higher Power, Pryor and Curlin’s Honor. Bode’s Maker was withdrawn.
“Well, it was magnificent you know,” Saez said of his winning trip. “That horse is a pretty good horse. He proved today that he can really run and I don’t know. Let’s see, hopefully everything will be going good for the Arkansas Derby.”
Magnum Moon returned $8, $3.60 and $3 as the 3-1 second choice in the field. Solomini capped off the $11 exacta and paid $2.80 and $2.40. Combatant was worth $3.20 to show at odds of more than 8-1. The trifecta (50 cents) returned $26.25.
Pletcher said that the $1 million Arkansas Derby (GI) on April 14 is the next logical step for Magnum Moon, who could earn an additional 100 points with a victory.
“We felt like we had a very talented colt,” Pletcher said. “We were very pleased with his first two races. But this was a step up in class and running against accomplished, seasoned colts. We were confident that he was training very well, coming into it in great shape and just hoping he could handle the continued rise in class.”
Magnum Moon, who is out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song mare Dazzling Moon, was bred in Kentucky by Ramona Bass and was purchased by his owners for $360,000 as a Keeneland September yearling in 2016. The Lows are longtime owners and their silks have been represented by several stakes winners, but Magnum Moon is so far their best runner.
“We’re just going to relish this victory and take one (win) at a time,” Robert Low said. “We’ll just see how he comes back. Luis, Todd, the whole team did a fantastic job and we’re just so proud to be associated with this horse.
“We’d been communicating with Todd where he was. We were confident, but nervous. He got the job done. Todd is very organized. We knew he had him ready for the race.”
Runner-up Solomini earned 20 points for his runner-up finish and now sits ninth with 34 points total while Combatant is 13th with 22 after picking up 10.