News and STORIES

Moon Over Miami, Micheline Impress in Kentucky Down Stakes

Author: Clint Goodman
Published: Saturday September 12, 2020
Moon Over Miami came into the $707,635 Gun Runner Dueling Grounds Derby Sept. 10 at Kentucky Downs as an also-eligible before drawing into the race. That made for an exciting performance when he surprised many to take the win.

After sitting in 10th early on, he raced past rivals on the outside to take the lead in the midstretch. Moon Over Miami moved past the pacesetter Big Dreaming to win by a half-length.

The 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon ran 1 5/16 miles on a firm turf course in 2:06.76 under Javier Castellano. He paid $16 for his win against an impressive field of 12 3-year-olds.

"When I asked the horse, he gave me that gear, gave me that powerful kick," Castellano said." The way he finished, I was very impressed."

Trained by Bill Mott, he won his third outing out of nine starts, and it was his first stakes victory. Before the Dueling Grounds Derby, the runner finished fourth in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame Stakes (G2T) at Saratoga Race Course on July 18. He also took an allowance race at Churchill Downs on June 20.

In those previous two events, Moon Over Miami ran with blinkers, with the decision coming after he finished unplaced in his first four races of the year.

"I think the blinkers have helped. And on the turf he's obviously found a home," said Mott assistant Kenny McCarthy.

Moon Over Miami is the second winner from his dam, who finished on-the-board back in 2013 in the JP Morgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (G3T) at Keeneland. Zinzay is also responsible for the 2-year-old Mozay (by Uncle Mo), the yearling Spin Wheel (by Hard Spun), and she foaled Nyxed this year, who is a Ghostzapper filly.

Spin Wheel will be part of the upcoming Keeneland September Yearling Sale in Lane's End consignment, cataloged as Hip 1241.

Rest of the Field

Big Dreaming fought hard but couldn't make it past second. He fought it out with Moon Over Miami to the wire, even though it looked as if Moon Over Miami would push ahead and win by a comfortable margin. 

Big Dreaming finished 3 3/4 lengths ahead of Shamrocket in third place, and the graded stakes winner Peace Achieved followed in fourth. 

The 4-1 favorite Bama Breeze disappointed and fell to the back early, eventually finishing seventh.

Micheline in the Dueling Ground Oaks

Just one race before the Dueling Grounds Derby, Micheline scored the Dueling Ground Oaks. She pushed ahead down the center of the course and passed up Harvey's Lil Goil, taking the $453,000 event by a neck.

The owner/trainer team of Godolphin and Mike Stidham now have their third major stakes victory in less than a week. Those previous wins included Mystic Guide's Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) victory at Saratoga Race Course and Pixelate's score in the Del Mar Derby (G2T) Sept. 6.

As was the case for Micheline, those winners were prepped by the owner//trainer team at Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland, and from there, they went off to their stakes events.

Micheline is a homebred daughter of the Darley stallion Bernardini, and she handled the Dueling Ground Oaks distance well, moving up from eighth under Joel Rosario. Harvey's Lil Goil was not able to hold on in the final furlong, and Micheline finished 1 5/16 miles on turf in 2:06.41. 

"I thought I was never going to catch (Harvey's Lil Goil)," Rosario said. "But she kept trying. I was riding, and she kept trying. Finally, the last part of it, I got close to the horse, and she got up and ran really well."

The 29-1 longshot Luck Money finished third, while second favorite Stunning Sky took fourth. 

It was Micheline's third stakes win after scoring the Sorority Stakes at Monmouth Park in 2019 and the Honey Ryder Stakes at Gulfstream Park earlier in 2020.