The highly regarded Moonlight d'Oro (Medaglia d'Oro) took her first steps toward the GI Kentucky Oaks for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella with an impressive, last-to-first victory in Saturday's GIII Las Virgenes S. at Santa Anita.
The good-looking, last out Los Alamitos maiden winner in her two-turn debut with a field-best 87 Beyer Speed Figure Dec. 13 was sent off as the 6-5 second-choice in this stakes debut.
She was content to trail the field of five beneath Flavien Prat as the Bob Baffert-trained favorite Kalypso (Brody's Cause), a last out winner of the GII Santa Ynez S. and runner-up in the GI Starlet S., led through fractions of :23.25 and :47.47.
Moonlight d'Oro caught the eye with a flashy, three-wide move as they approached the quarter pole and took care of business from there, powering clear in the stretch to win with authority.
The Las Virgenes carries 10-4-2-1 qualifying points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.
Moonlight d'Oro faced the starter two previous times sprinting before earning her diploma. She gamely split horses in deep stretch after getting outsprinted early to finish an educational second as the 3-5 favorite on debut last summer at Del Mar Aug. 2. She also completed the trifecta going six furlongs at Del Mar Nov. 7.
“It turned out good,” Mandella said. “I was worried she got a little washy going to the gate, and she was a lamb over at Los Alamitos where she should have gotten upset. Sometimes you take them over to something like that and then the next time they're looking for the excitement.”
Prat added, “I was trying to see if I should stay inside or go around, and I decided to go around. She was there for me when I asked her to go. [Joel] Rosario was at the front and nobody was really bothering him, but when I came around the turn, I made that great move and tried to get some momentum out of it. She was traveling nicely behind horses, and I was very happy with how she ran.”
Winning co-owners MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm also campaigned recently crowned Horse of the Year and new Spendthrift sire Authentic (Into Mischief) in partnership. They are currently also represented by the MGSP 4-year-old Tizamagician (Tiznow), runner-up in last weekend's GII San Pasqual S.
Backed by B. Wayne Hughes's high-powered operation, the microshare partnership re-loaded at the yearling sales last fall, purchasing 14 head at Keeneland September for $3.355 million and another $850,000 on three yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Showcase.
For a feature on Moonlight d'Oro and her owners earlier this week, click here.
Among the perennial leading sires, Darley's Medaglia d'Oro notched his 75th graded winner with Moonlight d'Oro's Las Virgenes score, half an hour before adding his 76th with Risk Taking's GIII Withers win. The striking bay and triple Grade I winner is just shy of 150 career black-type winners with 148. His four-years younger stablemate in the Darley stallion barn, Bernardini, is Moonlight d'Oro's broodmare sire. The filly becomes the 44th stakes winner out of a Bernardini daughter and the second by Medaglia d'Oro. With zero inbreeding through her first five generations, Moonlight d'Oro is a half-sister to 2016 GII Adirondack S. placer Olive Branch (Speightstown), while her own dam is a full-sister to GSW Wilburn and SW & GSP La Appassionata, all by Bernardini, as well as a half-sister to GSW Beethoven (Sky Mesa). Second dam Moonlight Sonata (Carson City) is a half to GISW Bevo (Prospectors Gamble) and to the dam of 2017 champion and $5-million seller Abel Tasman (Quality Road). Venetian Sonata's yearling colt is by Justify. She was bred back to Medaglia d'Oro.
Saturday, Santa Anita
LAS VIRGENES S.-GIII, $200,000, Santa Anita, 2-6, 3yo, f, 1m, 1:38.01, ft.
1–MOONLIGHT D'ORO, 120, f, 3, by Medaglia d'Oro
1st Dam: Venetian Sonata, by Bernardini
2nd Dam: Moonlight Sonata, by Carson City
3rd Dam: Wheatly Way, by Wheatly Hall
1ST BLACK TYPE WIN, 1ST GRADED STAKES WIN. ($620,000 Ylg '19 KEESEP). O-MyRacehorse & Spendthrift Farm LLC; B-Stonehaven Steadings (KY); T-Richard E Mandella; J-Flavien Prat. $120,000. Lifetime Record: 4-2-1-1, $163,040. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
2–Kalypso, 120, f, 3, Brody's Cause–Malibu Cove, by Malibu Moon. ($240,000 Ylg '19 FTKJUL). O-David A Bernsen, LLC, Rockingham Ranch & Chad Littlefield; B-Spendthrift Farm LLC (KY); T-Bob Baffert. $40,000.
3–Moraz, 120, f, 3, Empire Maker–Malvinia, by A.P. Indy. O-Don Alberto Stable; B-Don Alberto Corporation (KY); T-Michael W McCarthy. $24,000.
Margins: 1HF, 1 3/4, 2 1/4. Odds: 1.30, 1.00, 4.10.
Also Ran: Brilliant Cut, Honor America.
Click for the Equibase.com chart, the TJCIS.com PPs or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.