DERBY CONTENDER: Magnum Moon

By Kaitlin Free (@kaitlinefree on Twitter)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Magnum Moon comes into the Kentucky Derby with 150 points sitting at #1 on the leaderboard. He secured his points with easy wins in the Rebel Stakes and the Arkansas Derby. In those two races, he defeated other Derby entrants Solomini and Combatant decisively.

In both of those victories Magnum Moon sat just off the pace and made his move around the turn before going clear in the stretch. All 4 of his races have been run in this fashion, including a MSW score at Gulfstream and an allowance win at Tampa Bay.

Magnum Moon caught our attention after those first two races and stamped himself as a colt to watch closely. After his two stakes victories, he furthered his hopes and showed he was a real contender to win the Kentucky Derby.

As distance increases, Magnum Moon seems to be up to handle more. The conditions at Churchill Downs should suit him and he appears to be ready to run a big one.

From a pedigree standpoint, Magnum Moon could very well have the goods. By Malibu Moon out of an Unbridled’s Song mare, his dosage of stamina stands out at first glance.

His namesake sire Malibu Moon is one of a couple stallions in this year’s race who has tasted recent Derby success. Malibu Moon is also the sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby Champion Orb, who is bred nearly identical to Magnum Moon.

Malibu Moon was a very impressive 2 year old with a MSW victory to his credit, but was unfortunately injured very young and was retired. After starting his stallion career in Maryland, it did not take long for Malibu Moon to get going – siring a Champion 2 Year Old Male in his first crop. All Malibu Moon babies have fire and grit, Magnum Moon being no exception.

Out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song mare Dazzling Song, Magnum Moon’s dam adds even more class to an already nice pedigree.

A dam of 3 foals to race – all 3 have been winners. Dazzling Song hails from a strong line and is from the immediate family of MGSW’s Harmony Lodge and Graeme Hall.

When analyzed on TrueNicks, Magnum Moon’s pedigree rates an A. With a pedigree that favors stamina, Magnum Moon breaks the mold of the more popular speedy type and will appreciate the Kentucky Derby distance.

Magnum Moon training at Churchill Downs. Photo by Holly M. Smith

Magnum Moon’s chances to both win and lose are somewhat equal coming into the Derby. He looks rock solid and has raced as such but a few holes can be exposed. Like Justify, Magnum Moon is an “Apollo curse” horse. With only 4 career starts he is coming into the Derby on a light schedule. Unlike Justify, Magnum Moon has not needed to show any versatility and has ran all of his races in the same way.

Traffic trouble or a bad break could spell disaster for a horse that is used to one style. As stated before, Magnum Moon has not NEEDED to show more to us, but doing so for the first time in the biggest race of his career could be a tall order.

Another hiccup is his trouble drifting out into the stretch. Magnum Moon has had stretch issues and has a habit of going wider than needed. Whether he is just bored or is being spooked, this factor does expose a bit of immaturity.

Despite those factors, Magnum Moon will show up on Saturday with a few things in his favor. Post position 16 is great for him and should only improve his chances. It has already been proven that Magnum Moon will be able to handle the Derby distance, but it also must be added that all suggests he will handle an off track should it occur.

As stated earlier he is bred like Orb, who won the Kentucky Derby on an extremely sloppy surface with ease. He will join a handful of colts in this field who will be fine over an off track. Put it all together and Magnum Moon has more in his back pocket than most of his competitors do. He will be in the mix turning for home, and has a chance to outlast all of the other colts.

Chance to finish in Kentucky Derby superfecta on a scale of 1-10 : 7/10

photos by Holly M. Smith (@kyholmarie on Twitter)

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