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Magnum Moon takes Arkansas Derby in impressive fashion

MAGNUM MOON - The Arkansas Derby Gr I - 82nd Running - 04-14-18 - R11 - OP - Celebration 1 (Courtesy Oaklawn)

Robert and Lawana Low’s Magnum Moon is now a perfect four for four and holds the top position on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard after scoring an impressive victory in Saturday’s $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) before a crowd of 64,500. The Todd Pletcher-trainee added 100 points to his 50 from winning Oaklawn’s March 17 Rebel Stakes (G2) to bring his total to 150 points, 16 more than champion Good Magic.

Total handle for the 12-race card was $16,159,771.31, a record for a single day card in Oaklawn’s 114 history.

Ridden by Luis Saez, Magnum Moon, the 4-5 favorite, grabbed the lead from the break and never looked back, proceeding to set fractions of :23.34 and :48.60 for the first half mile, while being tracked closely by Quip. The winner shied in the stretch, but quickly overcame it to draw off to win by four lengths over Quip, who earned 40 points for second, in 1:49.86 over a fast track.

“He had me worried to death when I saw we were on the lead. But, Luis (Saez) gave him a masterful ride," Low said.

“I thought it (his race) was very good," said trainer Todd Pletcher. "I’m very pleased with the outcome. A little concerned that he drifted out the last part, but it looked like he sort of halfway thought about jumping over the tire marks when he went the by the eighth pole where the gate was and sort of skipped over those. I think he was maybe just drifting away from that. Aside from that, I thought he finished with good energy and was pulling away from some nice horses. He showed his versatility. He's won a number of different ways now and I think he's proven that he's the kind of horse that doesn't need the race to unfold a certain way, that he's able to kind of make his own race.”

Solomini, the Rebel Stakes runner-up, came from sixth in the nine-horse field to finish third and earned 20 points. He was followed by Combatant, Tenfold, Plainsman, Dream Baby Dream, Beautiful Shot and Machismo.

Magnum Moon, a Malibu Moon colt, has now earned $1,177,800. He returned $3.60, $2.80 and $2.40 as the heavy favorite.

Magnum Moon is scheduled to return to Palm Beach Downs on Sunday, Pletcher said, and “tentatively” fly to Churchill Downs on April 23. Will breeze once at Churchill Downs - “probably” eight days before the Kentucky Derby.

Live racing at Oaklawn will resume January 25, 2019.

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