ARCADIA, CA — In his initial voyage into graded stakes waters, trainer Phil D’Amato’s rapidly-improving Ransom the Moon rallied from off the pace to take Saturday’s Grade 2, $200,000 Kona Gold Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths.
Ridden by Flavien Prat, Ransom the Moon covered 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.12.
Fifth and full of run midway around the far turn, the 5-year-old son of Malibu Moon rallied extremely wide turning for home, finishing up like a top sprinter.
“Last time, he was really high before the race, with the pony, going to the gate, and he didn’t stand well in the gate, either,” said Prat, who guided him to an easy allowance win at the same distance here on April 30. “He won, but he’s definitely improved a lot from that last race. He was much better today. He was more focused, he broke well, and then he settled really nicely down the backside and around the turn. Once I asked, he made a nice move.”
Owned by Agave Racing Stable and Jeffry Wilke, Ransom the Moon collected $120,000 in his first-ever stakes start, boosting his earnings to $290,829. Primarily a turf horse before making his first start for D’Amato on April 30, Ransom the Moon improved his overall record to 17-4-5-1.
“Every time I put him on the dirt, he trained like a good horse,” said D’Amato. “More often than not with turf horses, they’ll train well on the dirt, but in the afternoon, they get lost out there. This horse is just getting better and better. Today, he sat behind those horses and kicked away. He won the right way, like a good horse should.”
Moe Candy proved second best while finishing a 1/2-length in front of favored Lord Simba, who was part of the early pace brigade and proved third best on the day, finishing 3 3/4 lengths in front of late-running Kobe’s Back. Calculator, Eastwood, Kentuckian, and Touched by Autism completed the order of finish.
Ransom the Moon returned $9.80, $5.20, and $3.20. Moe Candy brought back $10.40 and $5.40, while Lord Simba paid $2.60 to show.
Santa Anita Park