Undefeated ‘TDN Rising Star’ Magnum Moon (Malibu Moon), dominant victor of Saturday’s GI Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, returned to trainer Todd Pletcher’s south Florida base of Palm Beach Downs early Sunday in good order, according to co-owner Robert Low.
“He ate every oat last night and showed good energy this morning,” Low told the Oaklawn notes team. “He flew out early.”
Made the 4-5 favorite off the strength of an equally impressive tally in the GII Rebel S. Mar. 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. It was the fourth win in four tries for the $380,000 Keeneland September graduate, who heads to Churchill Downs as one of two undefeated GI Kentucky Derby hopefuls along with fellow ‘Rising Star’ Justify (Scat Daddy).
“It’s very difficult to do what he’s done since Jan. 13, breaking his maiden, to now be four-for-four and win the Rebel and Arkansas Derby and be a Grade I winner in his fourth start,” Pletcher said Saturday night. “It’s a real tribute to the horse’s talent.”
Pletcher said the tentative plan for Magnum Moon is to fly to Kentucky Apr. 23 and breeze once at Churchill Downs, likely eight days before the May 5 race.
WinStar Farm, China Horse Club International and SF Racing’s ‘Rising Star’ Quip (Distorted Humor) was second in the Arkansas Derby after chasing the winner throughout. That, combined with his victory in the GII Tampa Bay Derby gives the colt more than enough qualifying points to take a shot in Louisville, but WinStar CEO Elliott Walden was noncommittal Saturday about whether or not his charge would be pointed there.
“I don’t know,” Walden said. “He was second-best today. He ran hard. Good effort and we’ll see what happens.”
Third finisher Solomini (Curlin) will go in the Derby, according to Zayat Stables’ racing and stallion manager Justin Zayat.