Second Chances: Moonlight d'Oro

Moonlight d'Oro as a Keeneland September yearling | Keeneland

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In this continuing series, TDN's Senior Editor Steve Sherack catches up with the connections of promising maidens to keep on your radar.

Moonlight d'Oro (f, 2, Medaglia d'Oro-Venetian Sonata, by Bernardini) stamped herself as a 2-year-old to watch after rolling home through traffic to finish a strong second as the 3-5 favorite in her five-furlong unveiling at Del Mar Aug. 2 (video).

Trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, the $620,000 Keeneland September yearling was outsprinted early and ridden in eighth heading into the far turn. On the move with a wall of horses in front of her as they straightened, the MyRacehorse.com and Spendthrift Farm colorbearer showed plenty of maturity gamely splitting horses in the stretch and rallied smartly late, coming home a field-best final eighth in :12.75, finishing 1 1/4 lengths adrift Roll Up Mo Money (Uncle Mo). Moonlight d'Oro earned a 49 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort.

“We knew going into the race that breaking out of the gate wasn't necessarily her strong suit and all day long I was kind of pacing around the house going, 'Man, I wish this race was 5 1/2 or six furlongs,'” MyRacehorse's Racing Operations and Owner Experience Manager Joe Mishak said.

“Once she didn't catch a flyer, it really stacked against her going five furlongs. She settled and took plenty of dirt in her face though. It took her a quarter of a mile or three furlongs to figure out what was going on, but the way she did respond and work her way in between horses was very impressive. It's so intimidating for even older horses to do that, let alone a 2-year-old that doesn't have the greatest size, either. That was really encouraging, especially knowing she wants to go a longer route of ground.”

Bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Steadings, Moonlight d'Oro is a half-sister to impressive debut winner Olive Branch (Speightstown), who finished third in her final career start in Saratoga's GII Adirondack S. as a juvenile for the late Rick Violette. Moonlight d'Oro was produced by a winning full-sister to GSW Wilburn and SW & GSP La Appassionata; and a half-sister to GSW Beethoven (Sky Mesa).

As for what's next Moonlight d'Oro, Mishak said, “At this stage of the game, it will probably be the end of the Del Mar meet. I'm sure there will be options there, whether it's another maiden going six or 6 1/2 furlongs or even a race like the [GI Del Mar] Debutante [Sept. 6]. It's a discussion of how she works the next few times and getting together with Richard to see where he thinks she might be best suited.”

Previous standouts featured in 'Second Chances' include: GI Runhappy Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P. (Honor Code), Royal Ascot G2 Norfolk S. runner-up Golden Pal (Uncle Mo), MGISW and 'TDN Rising Star' Paradise Woods (Union Rags), GSW Backyard Heaven (Tizway), MSW and 'TDN Rising Star' Gidu (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) and GII Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth S. runner-up Candy Tycoon (Twirling Candy).

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