Getting to Know Ransom the Moon

Ransom the Moon earned a place in the TwinSpires Breeders' Cup Sprint with his Bing Crosby win. (Eclipse Sportswire)

With the 2016 Triple Crown season in the rearview mirror, the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” season is gearing up. While “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series races for this year’s event have been taking place since January, the U.S. races are now coming fast and furious the deeper we progress into summer.

In this week’s Getting to Know feature, we focus on Ransom the Moon, winner of the $300,000 Bing Crosby Stakes and a guaranteed spot in the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint starting gate via the Challenge Series.

While the initial response to a race that saw champion sprinter Drefong unseat Hall of Fame rider Mike Smith in the opening strides might be to dismiss the result, racing fans would be well-served to keep an open mind about Bing Crosby victor Ransom the Moon.

Sure, the 4.40-to-1 third betting choice got a dream trip when riderless Drefong clipped pacesetter St. Joe Bay, causing him to retreat, and then carried race favorite Roy H six wide into the stretch, opening up the rail for Ransom the Moon like the parting of the Red Sea. But Ransom the Moon turned in his fourth-straight elite performance, completing the six furlongs in a sprightly 1:09.63 to earn a 117 Equibase Speed Figure.

That speed figure was four points off the career-best 121 he earned when finishing second by a neck to Danzing Candy in the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes on July 1. In four races this year, Ransom the Moon has three wins and that second and has run between a 113 and 121 figure in each of those races.

It’s really been an amazing transformation for the 5-year-old Malibu Moon horse, who had amassed two wins, five seconds and a third in 15 races coming into this season.

Of the 15 races Ransom the Moon had competed in from 2014 through 2016, all but his career debut had come on either turf or the synthetic main track at Woodbine. Additionally, after his debut his next 14 starts came at distances ranging from one mile to 1 3/8 miles, including seven at 1 1/8 miles (five on grass, two on synthetic).

Ransom the Moon held his own but never really took a significant step forward.

Sold privately by breeder Sam-Son Farm to current owners Agave Racing Stable and Jeffry Wilke and transferred to trainer Phil D’Amato for his 5-year-old season in 2017, D’Amato shifted him to sprinting on the dirt and appears to have found the key to success with Ransom the Moon.

He drilled a hole in the wind in his season debut, taking command shortly after the start and running away to a 4 ¼-length romp going 6 ½ furlongs at Santa Anita Park on April 30. Next up was a 2 ¼-length victory from off the pace in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes in May at Santa Anita.

Ransom the Moon wins the Bing Crosby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

Following the runner-up finish to highly regarded Danzing Candy in the San Carlos, D’Amato targeted the Bing Crosby at the same three-quarter-mile distance and on the same track as the TwinSpires Breeders’ Cup Sprint on Nov. 4.

While there is certainly a chance the outcome would have been different in the Bing Crosby had Drefong not ducked wildly into the gap after brushing with the horse to his outside, it’s also pretty clear that Ransom the Moon is in terrific form right now since D’Amato discovered his ideal niche as a dirt sprinter.

Ransom the Moon is a major contender for the Breeders’ Cup Sprint with a win at Del Mar, the host track, at the race’s distance as well as the versatility to win from near the pace or rally from well back.


Ransom the Moon is by Malibu Moon, who is best known as the sire of 2013 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands winner Orb and has ranked among the top 15 on the BloodHorse sire list every year since 2009, including three times among the top five. Malibu Moon is quite versatile with elite males and females and runners excelling at both route and sprint distances, but as a son of 1992 Horse of the Year A.P. Indy he is typically considered a source of stamina on the dirt.

Ransom the Moon’s dam (mother), Count to Three, by Red Ransom, was a stakes winner on the grass and graded-stakes-placed on the synthetic surface at Woodbine. She finished in the top three in seven stakes with her lone victory coming at three-quarters of a mile. Stakes-placed at a mile, Count to Three never won a race longer than three-quarters of a mile.

Grandam (maternal grandmother) Countus In, by Dancing Count, won the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes going 1 1/8 miles at Hollywood Park in 1991. All of her stakes wins came on grass at either 1 1/16 miles or 1 1/8 miles.

From the pedigree, it’s easy to see why Ransom the Moon started out racing primarily on the grass in two-turn races, but his dam had plenty of speed and Malibu Moon certainly has proved capable of siring elite sprinters. There is plenty of class in this family with both of his first two dams stakes winners and producers and his third and fourth dams both stakes producers as well.

Ransom the Moon is very well bred and exceptionally fast. That’s a potent combo in the right hands, and so far D’Amato and regular rider Flavien Prat are pushing all the right buttons.

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