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FRANKLIN, KY – After failing to make an impact on the Kentucky Derby (G1) trail earlier this year, Summer Wind Equine homebred Moon Over Miami finally broke through for his first stakes score in Thursday’s $750,000 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs.
Moon Over Miami, the first horse on the Also Eligible list who drew in after a rival scratched, was the 7/1 fifth shot on the board as he broke from the far outside post under Javier Castellano.
Big Dreaming went to the lead and set fractions of :24.39, :48.68, 1:13.26, and 1:37.60 for the opening mile.
Castellano put Moon Over Miami to a drive as he neared the top of the stretch and kept him to task the length of the long run home.
After collaring Big Dreaming with a furlong to go, the Bill Mott trainee edged clear late before crossing a 1/2-length the best in a final time of 2:06.76 for the 1 5/16-mile firm turf event.
“I had a beautiful trip,” Castellano said. “I never rode the horse before. The way I handicapped it, everything went against the horse. Big field, (drawing) 13, outside, a long, long distance. I think the key was a lot of patience — ride with a lot of confidence and patience and it’s going to pay off, and that’s exactly what I did with the horse. I rode with a lot of patience. I tried to save all the ground as best I could around the first turn and let him develop a hole little by little on the backside and get him a clear trip.”
Big Dreaming was 3 3/4 lengths clear of Shamrocket in third, bhile behind him, Peace Achieved nosed out Kid Mercury for fourth.
Kinenos, the 4/1 favorite Bama Breeze, Angelus Warrior, Natural Power, Summer Assault, Jolting Joe, and Dynadrive completed the order of finish.
Fighting Seabee was scratched. Buy Me Candy, Salow, and Sunsation failed to enter from the Also Eligibles list.
Moon Over Miami’s win followed a solid fourth-place effort in the Hall of Fame Stakes (G2) at Saratoga nad improved his overall record to 9-3-0-0. The 3-year-old Malibu Moon colt has now earned $540,152.
“We sort of took a shot sending him down, hoping that well, maybe, hoping in time, somebody would scratch,” said assistant trainer Kenny McCarthy about Moon Over Miami drawing into the race. “They said we could stay in until 10 a.m., so we just sent him down with our fingers crossed. It doesn’t often work out like that. We got a little bit of racing luck in every which way.”
Moon Over Miami returned $16 to win, $8.80 to place, and $5.80 to show. Big Dreaming brought back $23 to place and $12 to show, while Shamrocket paid $4.40 to show.
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