Oaklawn Park was the place to be last Saturday. Perfect weather conditions produced a record Rebel Stakes Day crowd of 37,500. On the track, Magnum Moon became the latest major Kentucky Derby prospect with a dominating triumph over several strong rivals, including Solomini and Combatant. Let’s recap the action and take a look at our Three Stars of the Week.
1. Magnum Moon
Who needs experience? Racing’s latest rising star sat a perfect stalking trip in Saturday’s Grade 2 Rebel Stakes before taking over in the far turn to win by 3 1/2 lengths. The win pushes his record to a perfect three-for-three and easily puts him in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby. He will now be pointed for the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, which is already being dubbed as the “Apollo Stakes Showdown” because the Bob Baffert-trained Justify is also pointing for the race. Both horses didn’t race as 2-year-olds, so each will look to break the “Curse of Apollo” in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Let the hype begin!
2. Hedge Fund
At the top of the stretch, the Todd Pletcher-trained Hedge Fund looked to be in big trouble, but in the blink of an eye, he rebroke and powered home to a convincing 2 3/4- victory in the $300,000 Essex Handicap. After setting a swift early pace, Hedge Fund never slowed down and earned a career-high Beyer speed figure of 103. He’s now two-for-two in 2018 and looks like a horse that could have a big year ahead of him. He looked like a nice horse at times in 2017, but he seems to have developed into something much better this year. The Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap could be a good spot for him to try next.
3. Martini Glass
This horse is quickly developing into a top contender in the older filly and mare division. Defeating Lewis Bay in her last start, the Grade 3 Royal Delta Stakes at Gulfstream Park, served notice that she needed to be taken seriously, and in Saturday’s Grade 2 Azeri Stakes, she dominated a field that looked very evenly-matched on paper. After stalking the early pace, Martini Glass moved to the lead at the 1/4-pole, then drew away with relative ease to win by 3 lengths. The win was her 10th victory in 23 starts and puts her career earnings at $863,675. There will be several options for her next start that could push her over that milestone millionaire earnings mark.