Victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby brought the winner, Magnum Moon, to the top of the tree among Kentucky Derby prospects by classic points with 150. The handsome bay is bred to be a classic colt, with the 1992 Kentucky Derby early favorite A.P. Indy being his male-line grandsire.

In addition to winning the Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic, then being elected Horse of the Year, A.P. Indy has become a milestone, a marker of excellence, in breeding history. An exceptionally well-made and beautifully pedigreed animal, A.P. Indy sold to his fine looks, ran to the heights of expectation, and then delivered as a stallion of the highest caliber.

One of his acclaimed racing sons, however, is not the sire of Magnum Moon. Instead, the Arkansas Derby winner is by Malibu Moon, winner of a maiden special at Hollywood Park in the horse’s second start on May 31, 1999. He won by 1 ½ lengths over 5 furlongs on dirt in :57.41.

That is not the expected profile of a future top classic sire.

Yet Malibu Moon has been a success from the start, siring champion juvenile Declan’s Moon (G1 Hollywood Futurity) while standing in Maryland, then expanding his success with prominent national racing stars like Life at Ten (G1 Beldame Stakes), and such recent premium performers as Gormley (2017 Santa Anita Derby), Carina Mia (G1 Acorn Stakes), and of course 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

Especially after Orb’s success, Malibu Moon became one of the sires most strongly sought after at the sales, and so it proved with Magnum Moon.

Bred in Kentucky by Ramona S. Bass LLC, Magnum Moon was a popular colt at the sales and yet seems a “value buy,” perhaps in part due to his May foaling date, which many people still discriminate against.

Jacob West, bloodstock agent and racing manager for owners Robert and Lawana Low, found the bay son of Malibu Moon at the 2016 Keeneland September sale. West said, “We had made a big run at some colts in Book 1 but had gotten blown out of the water. So I started working through Book 2, and this colt was one of the top-rated colts in my mind.

“He was a May foal and wasn’t as forward in his maturity. But he was a nice representation of what a two-turn colt would look like when he grew up and filled out that big frame. He has worked out beautifully,” West concluded.

A good-looking yearling who sold for $380,000, Magnum Moon was a May 9 foal and is the third winner from three foals to race out of the unraced Unbridled’s Song mare Dazzling Song.

There is further good looks and good performance in the colt’s family because his dam is out of G3 stakes winner Win McCool (Giant’s Causeway). Win McCool is one of four stakes winners out of her dam, the stakes-winning Win Crafty Lady (Crafty Prospector). She produced G1 winner Harmony Lodge (Hennessy), as well as the full siblings Graeme Hall and Win’s Fair Lady (both by Dehere).

Harmony Lodge produced graded stakes winner Stratford Hill (A.P. Indy), and Win’s Fair Lady produced G3 winner First Passage (Giant’s Causeway) and stakes winner Berned (Bernardini), also G2- and G3-placed.

Graeme Hall was a high-class racer, winning the 2000 Arkansas Derby prior to that year’s Kentucky Derby, when the handsome chestnut was eased. Fortunately, Graeme Hall returned to race successfully, winning the G2 Jim Dandy at 3, then the G2 Eclipse Handicap at Woodbine and the G3 Stuyvesant Handicap at Aqueduct at 4. In all, Graeme Hall won 7 of 22 races, earning more than $1.1 million.

Now unbeaten in four starts this year, including the G1 Arkansas Derby and G2 Rebel, Magnum Moon has earned almost exactly the same sum as his Arkansas Derby-winning relation, with $1,177,800 in the account to date.

Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.


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