Magnum Moon wins Arkansas Derby for Springfield owners; next likely Kentucky Derby

Magnum Moon shook clear at the top of the Oaklawn Park stretch en route to a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby

Magnum Moon shook clear at the top of the Oaklawn Park stretch en route to a dominant victory in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby

Unraced at 2, Magnum Moon will try to become the fourth victor of the Rebel Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby to capture the Kentucky Derby, following Sunny's Halo (1983), Smarty Jones (2004), and American Pharoah (2015). Despite facing pressure from Quip on the front end and then drifting out several paths in the lane, Robert and Lawana Low's Magnum Moon proved much the best with a gate-to-wire, four-length victory in the $1 million Arkansas Derby. "Aside from that, I thought he finished with good energy and was pulling away from some nice horses".

Magnum Moon has won the 82nd running of the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and placed himself as a big contender for the 144th Kentucky Derby on May 5.

Pletcher said the "tentative" plan for Magnum Moon is to fly to Kentucky April 23 and breeze once at Churchill Downs-"probably" eight days before the Kentucky Derby. "Very pleased with the outcome".

The 4/5 favorite snagged 100 points on Saturday for The Run for The Roses, adding to the 50 points he had already grabbed in his second big victory at Oaklawn this season when he took The Rebel Stakes on March 17.

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Magnum Moon did drift toward the center of the track during the stretch run, a habit Pletcher would prefer to break after returning home to Kentucky. "He ran hard. Good effort and we'll see what happens". I am just going to stay there and he was very comfortable into the turn.

And, along with West Coast star Justify, 3 for 3 for Bob Baffert, Magnum Moon hopes to become the first unraced 2-year-old to win the Churchill Downs classic since Apollo in 1882.

"We could have tried to go on the lead", said Quip trainer Rodophe Brisset. "He's won a number of different ways now, and I think he's proven that he's the kind of horse that doesn't need the race to unfold a certain way, that he's able to kind of make his own race".

Magnum Moon's time in the 1 and 1/8 mile race was 1:49.86. Solomini, who needed a top-three finish to ensure he had enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field, got his head down over Combatant for third despite not switching leads in the stretch. "But, Luis (Saez) gave him a masterful ride".

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