Moonshine Memories got a late start to the Del Mar summer meet, but found her stride at the right time.
After a one-length debut win Aug. 19, the Malibu Moon filly once again sped to the lead in the $300,000, Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante on Sept. 2 and prevailed by a half-length over longshot Piedi Bianchi in a final time of 1:23.61 for seven-eighths of a mile.
The Simon Callaghan trainee set quarter-mile fractions of :21.97 and :44.85 and began to tire a bit late, but found just enough to hold off the late-running Piedi Bianchi, who finished 5 1/4 lengths clear of last-out Sorrento Stakes winner Spectator.
“We were actually looking for any excuse not to run her back [in two weeks],” Callaghan said of the filly owned by Bridlewood Farm, Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith, and Michael Tabor. “There was no pressure from the owners. The filly just did everything you’d want from a horse between starts.”
Although the pace was rapid, jockey Flavien Prat felt she was still racing within herself.
“[Callaghan] said, ‘She’s got speed. Get her away from there and find a spot,’ ” the rider said. “She was just cruising out there today. Just cruising.”
Callaghan wasn’t as confident as the fractions lit up the Del Mar toteboard, while Moonshine Memories held a clear advantage.
“I liked the way she was travelling within herself, but then you look at the fractions and you get a little worried,” Callaghan said. “She just kept running potential rivals off and she was all heart at the end.”
Piedi Bianchi, an Overanalyze filly trained by Doug O’Neill, was the only filly making progress on the front-runner in the final stages, but could not get past at odds of 18.90-1.
“That was a good late run from her,” Piedi Bianchi’s jockey, Mario Gutierrez, said. “She’s getting better—improving all the time.”
Spectator began to lose ground on the turn after she stalked the pace in fourth during the backstretch run and even momentarily dropped back to sixth in the seven-horse field. She re-rallied in the stretch to finish 1 3/4 lengths clear of Dancing Belle for third.
“She stumbled coming away from there and grabbed a quarter,” jockey Jamie Theriot said of Spectator, who went off at 2.30-1. “She was swapping leads on the backside and I couldn’t figure out why. Afterward, I knew. But she fought through the pain and came running late.”
Favored Just a Smidge, off at 9-5 odds, contested the pace early but tired to finish fifth.
Bred by Summer Wind Farm out of the Unbridled’s Song mare Unenchantedevening, Moonshine Memories was a $650,000 purchase by Bridlewood Farm and M.V. Magnier out of the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga sale of selected yearlings.