by JOHN MUCCIOLO
The final pair of Kentucky Derby prep races was held on Saturday.
Arkansas Derby (G1)
Robert and Lawana Low’s MAGNUM MOON moved his mark to an unblemished four-for-four with a convincing, four-length triumph beneath Luis Saez. Todd Pletcher pupil strode to the front soon after the break and shook off a brief challenge nearing the turn for home en route to his initial Grade 1 conquer.
Magnum Moon endured nine furlongs on the Oaklawn fast surface in 1:49 4/5 to cement his status as a prime Kentucky Derby contender. He was rewarded with a 99 BRIS Speed number for his work.
Tampa Bay Derby (G2) star QUIP tracked in second from the early going and gamely maintained his spot to the wire in holding off a trio of foes. Rodolphe Brisset trainee was making just a second run of 2018 and has room for improvement going forward.
Bob Baffert’s SOLOMINI rallied to grab third by a head and is 12th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 54 points. Talented sort is consistently good and never backs down from a challenge.
COMBATANT was a neck ahead of stable companion TENFOLD to finish off some minor awards. I appreciate both of the Steve Asmussen trainees, though winning the Kentucky Derby does not appear to be within either’s reach.
Magnum Moon is a superstar. Colt did not keep a straight course in the stretch of the Arkansas Derby when veering out inside the final furlong. But I am not going to try and downplay how dominant the sophomore is.
In many a year, we would be looking at our Kentucky Derby favorite with Magnum Moon.
Lexington S. (G3)
MY BOY JACK again showed off his fine turn of foot in getting up late to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Southwest S. (G3) victor overcame the widest post in running down a game TELEKINESIS in the final yards for conditioner Keith Desormeaux.
Dark bay son of Creative Cause went 1 1/16 miles at Keeneland in 1:44 1/5 to post a 94 BRIS Speed number. Late-running colt will be dead-fit for the Run for the Roses with 10 lifetime races under his belt.
Telekinesis did everything right but come out on top in just a third career performance. Casse colt has a very bright future and will be making noise throughout the summer and fall.
PONY UP took a while to get into stride but finished full of energy when finding his best rhythm to be third. Pletcher trainee is a longshot to make the Derby while sitting in the 28th position currently. But he ran well in the Lexington and has a lot of ability.
To me, this weekend was all about Magnum Moon and his brilliance.
Magnum Moon photo courtesy of Coady Photography