H P MOON IMPRESSES WITH FIRST-OUT ROMP
It was worth the wait.
K E M Racing Stable and Five Hellions Farm’s H P Moon, scratched at the gate from a planned debut last month at Saratoga, ran up to the hype in his highly anticipated debut Saturday at historic Pimlico Race Course.
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With Jevian Toledo up for trainer Lacey Gaudet, the 2-year-old Malibu Moon ridgling rolled through splits of 23.10 and 45.62 seconds while opening a four-length lead, extended his advantage to eight lengths after five furlongs in 57.67, and hit the wire 9 ¾ lengths in front while under wraps.
Sent off as the 2-5 favorite in a field of six, H P Moon ($2.80) ran 1:10.76 for six furlongs over a fast main track in the maiden special weight for 2-year-olds. Purchased for $100,000 at Fasig-Tipton’s Selected Yearling Showcase last year, she failed to meet a $385,000 reserve its March 2-year-old in training sale at Gulfstream Park.
“I always tell my owners, the minute the hammer goes down and you pay that price for a horse, forget about it because it means nothing until they get over here and do something like this,” Gaudet said. “That’s what tells you about what they’re worth. It is really nice, at least first time out, for it to come together and be worth all the hype.
“I told them, if we can get the win out of the way we can have fun from here on out,” she added. “I said let’s just get this first race in because we know he’s nice, and that was a big help.”
A string of sharp works for Gaudet at Delaware Park convinced the connections to debut at Saratoga, and H P Moon was entered in a maiden special weight to open the July 31 card. The horse made it all the way to the starting gate before being scratched, according to the state steward, the horse identifier didn’t feel comfortable its listed markings matched the horse.
“When he got to the paddock, the identifier said he had markings that were incorrect and they needed to be corrected before he could run, so they had him scratched. At the gate,” Gaudet said. “We were very high on him.
“There was so much going into getting him prepped for it. We did a lot. We locked the entire barn to take this horse up to Saratoga, just to go for two days,” she added. “We were there early. I called them just to make sure that horse ID knew. It was extremely disappointing.”
Gaudet took H P Moon back to her string at Delaware where he breezed a pair of half-miles for Saturday’s race, going in 47.80 seconds Aug. 7 and 47 flat Aug. 14, the latter ranking first of 63 horses.
“We’re lucky he came back from Saratoga in good order. That was the big thing,” Gaudet said. “When he got off the van he was exhausted, just from the trip alone. When he came back and had his first breeze back at Delaware by himself in 47, we were like, ‘We’re OK. He’s just had some really, really impressive workouts.
“The owners all called and said, ‘Let’s go back to Saratoga.’ I said, ‘You know what guys? All eyes are going to be on this horse when he runs back. Lets’ make it look good. Let’s give them something to talk about,” she added. “And we wanted to run three-quarters, too. Delaware had a race that was five furlongs, and we really wanted to give him a race that was middle distance and try and go somewhere with him for the rest of the year. I can’t thank them enough for taking a back seat and letting me make the call.”
Gaudet has been particularly impressed with the way H P Moon has steadily progressed since joining her barn in the spring. She said the temptation with promising juveniles is to move too fast, so she hopes to take the next steps in moderation.
“You spend so much money for a horse and you go over them with a fine tooth comb when they come in, but this horse has just developed so much in our operation,” Gaudet said. “He’s a ridgling and for him to just keep growing like this is just unbelievable. He’s just turned into an absolute monster.
“We’ve looked around a little bit. Honestly, if the owners allow me to we’ll probably aim small and go to Churchill for an allowance race,” she added. “That’s probably the right thing to do. It gets a little sticky this time of year because they all want to start stretching horses out for the Breeders’ Cup, and there’s no too many short 2-year-old races. We’ll see what happens.”