When neither of the public’s top two betting choices were within three lengths of the lead at the head of the lane, it was left to the Coolmore partners and Bridlewood Farm’s Moonshine Memories to take the G1 Del Mar Debutante field from gate-to-wire at 5-1. The juvenile daughter of Malibu Moon, ridden by the red-hot Flavien Prat for his third victory on the card, covered seven furlongs over Del Mar’s fast main track in 1:23.61. Trained by Simon Callaghan, Moonshine Memories held off the 18-1 Piedi Bianchi by about a half-length at the wire.
“No special instructions for me today; he (trainer Simon Callaghan) said ‘She’s got speed; get her away from there and find a spot.’” said Prat. “She was cruising out there today. Just cruising. She’s a nice filly. And I think she’ll definitely run on.”
Favored Just a Smidge collided firmly with second-choice Spectator leaving the starting gate, but both were quickly up with the leading group down the chute toward the main track. Moonshine Memories had the lead from the beginning, getting three-quarters of a length’s advantage over the duo of Just a Smidge and Gabrielelizabeth, while Spectator was back in fourth. Fractions were :21.97 and :44.85 as Moonshine Memories inched away to a full length in front.
Rounding the far turn, Piedi Bianchi moved up the rail to get within two lengths of Moonshine Memories, but the leader had something left for the drive down the lane as Spectator faded back through the field. Piedi Bianchi was able to close the gap to a half-length by the finish, but Moonshine Memories kept in front at the wire. Spectator came back to finish third.
“She stumbled coming away from there and grabbed a quarter,” jockey Jamie Theriot explained of Spectator. (Cut herself up front.) “She was swapping leads on the backside and I couldn’t figure out why. Afterwards I knew. But she fought through the pain and came running late. Good effort for her.”
Bred in Kentucky by Summer Wind Farm, Moonshine Memories was a $ 650,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Select sale. She won at first asking by a length just two weeks ago, and the Debutante improves her record to two wins from as many starts with earnings of over $ 210,000.
“We were actually looking for any small excuse not to run her back (in two weeks),” Callaghan said. “There was no pressure from the owners. This filly just did everything you’d want from a horse in between (starts). She showed in the paddock, her disposition and how calm she was, is something you can’t instill in them, it’s within them. (During the race) I liked the way she was traveling within herself, but then you look at the fractions and you get a little worried. She just kept running potential rivals off and she was all heart at the end.”
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