Magnum Moon brings lofty reputation, unbeaten record to $1 million Arkansas Derby

Apr 12, 2018 by James Scully/

Magnum Moon stepped into the Kentucky Derby spotlight with a convincing victory in the Rebel Stakes (G2), remaining unbeaten with a three-length decision, and the Todd Pletcher-trained colt has returned to Oaklawn Park as the horse to beat in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1). He’s been established as the 8-5 morning line favorite in a nine-horse field.

Contested over 1 1/8 miles, the Arkansas Derby is worth a combined 170 points (100-40-20-10 scale) toward a Kentucky Derby berth.

By Malibu Moon, Magnum Moon registered a career-best 100 BRIS Speed rating and stamped his Kentucky Derby ticket picking up a 50-point prize in the Rebel. The front-running opened his racing career with a 4 ½-length maiden tally at Gulfstream Park in mid-January and shipped to Tampa Bay Downs a month later to record a two-length allowance score in a two-turn allowance. The bay colt continued to step forward last time, tracking early leaders before powering his way to the front nearing the completion of the far turn, and Magnum Moon shows a pair of bullet works in preparation.

Solomini didn’t experience a clean trip but gamely got up for second in the Rebel, making his first start since finishing first (disqualified and placed third) in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) last December. Runner-up in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and FrontRunner (G1), the Bob Baffert-trained colt will look to improve off the comebacker and Flavien Prat sticks with the early 2-1 second choice.

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Quip will be on or close to the lead from the start. A winner in three of four career starts, the son of Distorted Humor was overlooked at 19-1 odds last time after an unplaced finish in his juvenile finale. Florent Geroux rides for Rudolphe Brisset and Quip comes next on the morning line at 9-2.

Combatant has placed in four consecutive stakes races, just missing second when third in the Rebel, and the Scat Daddy colt will running late with regular rider Ricardo Santana Jr. He’s one of three entries for Steve Asmussem, who also has unbeaten stakes debuter Tenfold and Sunland Derby (G3) runner-up Dream Baby Dream in the mix.

Completing the field are expected longshots Beautiful Shot, Machismo and Plainsman.

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