By Andrew Caulfield
Back in the fall of 2013, when breeders were contemplating the matings responsible for this year’s classic crop, Malibu Moon had a total of 29 foals of racing age out of daughters of Unbridled and Unbridled’s Song. Only one of the 29 had become a black-type winner, but that black-type winner was none other than Orb, the 2013 Kentucky Derby hero who was recruited to the Claiborne stallion team.
While one black-type winner from 29 foals was less than compelling, Orb’s successes in the GII Fountain of Youth S., the GI Florida Derby and the GI Kentucky Derby were more than enough to ensure that breeders continued to explore this type of cross with Malibu Moon. The Spendthrift veteran now has 25 foals out of Unbridled mares, plus another 35 out of daughters of Unbridled’s Song.
While Malibu Moon’s partnership with Unbridled mares has failed to pay any further major dividends, his Unbridled’s Song team is shaping up extremely well. When Magnum Moon justified his ‘TDN Rising Star’ status with his clear-cut defeat of Solomini (Curlin) in the GII Rebel S., this unbeaten colt became this nick’s third graded stakes winner and fourth black-type scorer. He follows in the footsteps of those fine fillies Farrell and Moonshine Memories.
Farrell collected a trio of Grade II successes as a 3-year-old last year, taking her total to four, while Moonshine Memories officially ranked third among last year’s juvenile fillies, on the strength of her victories in the GI Del Mar Debutante and GI Chandelier S. Those Grade I wins made her favorite for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, ahead of another Grade I-winning Malibu Moon filly, Heavenly Love, but neither filly reproduced their best form.
Clearly, Magnum Moon is by no means the first smart performer to emerge from Malibu Moon’s 2015 crop. He joins the likes of Moonshine Memories, Heavenly Love, the recent GII Davona Dale S. winner Fly So High, the GIII winner Greyvitos, the Graded-placed Hollywood Star and Sultry, the Grade I-placed Maya Malibu and the stakes-winning Malibu Saint, so this 2015 crop could be one of Malibu Moon’s finest. This isn’t too surprising as Orb’s Kentucky Derby success had helped boost Malibu Moon’s fee to a new high of $95,000 in 2014.
His 2016 and 2017 crops were also sired at $95,000, so there is every reason to expect 2018 and 2019 to prove very rewarding for the now-21-year-old son of A.P. Indy. Three of his yearling sons sold for $700,000, $650,000 and $625,000 last year, with his top-priced filly selling for $500,000. Significantly, the $625,000 colt, now named Outshine, and the $500,000 filly are both out of daughters of Unbridled’s Song, so this particular partnership also looks set to add to the nick’s reputation.
Magnum Moon’s chances of becoming a GI winner–and a major player in the Triple Crown events–look even better when you remember that he has a May 9 birthday, so is far from the finished article. Then there’s the Rebel’s terrific record. Its roll of honor features Smarty Jones (Elusive Quality), Lawyer Ron (Langfuhr), Curlin (Smart Strike), Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike), The Factor (War Front), Secret Circle (Eddington), Will Take Charge (Unbridled’s Song), Hoppertunity (Any Given Saturday), American Pharoah (Pioneerof the Nile) and Cupid (Tapit). That adds up to ten winners at the highest level among the last 14 winners of the Oaklawn Park trial.
Not all of those Rebel winners possessed the necessary stamina for a Triple Crown contender, but there seems to be enough encouragement to be found in Magnum Moon’s style of racing and in his pedigree to suggest that he won’t be one of them. In addition to being by a stallion with a Kentucky Derby winner already to his credit, his broodmare sire Unbridled’s Song has been responsible for such as Arrogate, Will Take Charge and Octave and represents a sire line which has been highly effective in the Triple Crown events.
Bred by Ramona S. Bass, Magnum Moon was bought for $380,000 as a yearling, when he was consigned to the sales by Claiborne Farm. His dam Dazzling Light never raced but you can get a good idea of the strength of her pedigree from the fact that Seth Hancock had signed for her when she made $825,000 as a yearling in 2009.
She owed part of her popularity to being a daughter of Win McCool. This daughter of Giant’s Causeway was the third graded stakes winner produced by Crafty Lady when she won the GIII Floral Park H. over six furlongs as a 3-year-old. Her predecessors were Graeme Hall, a smart Dehere colt who won the GII Arkansas Derby over a mile and an eighth, and the fast Hennessy filly Harmony Lodge, who fully justified the $1,650,000 she cost in the February of her 2-year-old season.
The emphasis here seems to be on speed, but Win McCool represented a highly successful partnership between Giant’s Causeway and Crafty Prospector mares. This nick’s 13 foals included four black-type winners, headed by Giant Oak, a dual Grade I winner over a mile and an eighth who was once second in the Breeders’ Cup Marathon over 1 3/4 miles.
If there proves to be a weak link in Magnum Moon’s stamina, the finger of suspicion would point to his third dam, Win Crafty Lady, winner of the GIII Interborough H. over six furlongs as a 5-year-old. Her half-brother Diligence, by the sprinter Miswaki, was arguably at his best over seven furlongs, the distance of his wins in the GII Tom Fool H. and GIII Churchill Downs H.
While that may be a worry, Magnum Moon has a pedigree which features A.P. Indy, Unbridled’s Song, Seattle Slew, Unbridled and Giant’s Causeway among the six stallions in his second and third generations, so he must have a good chance of getting a mile and a quarter.