Malibu Moon shined brightest during last weekend's stakes action with a pair of new stakes winners and another out of one of his daughters.
Spendthrift Farm's Malibu Moon has long a been a 'go-to' sire for high-end North American breeders, a credential cemented when his son Orb splashed home first in the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
North America's fourth leading sire that season, the son of A.P. Indy slipped a bit in 2014 when he checked in 13th on the general sires list and failing to reach double-digit stakes winners for the term (he sired nine that season). He's back among the top six sires this year and is up to six 2015 stakes winners after his progeny captured Saturday black-type events in Delaware and Ohio.
Luna Time made her stakes debut in Delaware Park's Grade 3 Obeah Stakes and proved 3 lengths best for trainer Graham Motion at 15-1. The 4-year-old Malibu Moon filly is Malibu Moon's 33rd graded stakes winner and we can expect to see her next in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap July 18. Bred by owners Dorsey Brown and Richard Palmer, Luna Time is out of a mare by the Storm Cat son High Yield.
As much as Calumet Farm's (via Zayat Stables) Mr. Z has been in the news the past several months, it's almost hard to believe he left the starting gate in last Saturday's $500,000 Ohio Derby with but one victory under his girth. That all changed about 103 seconds later when he gallantly fought off Grade 1 TwinSpires.com Wood Memorial runner-up Tencendur (by Warrior's Reward) and Preakness Stakes third Divining Rod (Tapit) throughout the Thistledown stretch.
Mr. Z is Malibu Moon's fifth stakes winner from 30 starters (17 percent stakes winners from starters) out of direct daughters of Storm Cat. None of the previous four, however, have won at the graded level.
Among the others is Where's the Moon, winner of the $125,000 Mine That Bird Derby earlier this season (and subsequent runner-up to Firing Line in the Grade 3 Sunland Derby). Malibu Moon has produced more quality with the Storm Cat granddaughters so far - seven stakes winners, four graded, including Grade 1 winner Eden's Moon (dam by Giant's Causeway) from 67 starters.
Mr. Z was purchased by Calumet from Zayat Stables in the hours leading up to the May 16 Preakness. Under Brad Kelley's stewardship, Calumet has collected and eclectic array of stallions and he was no doubt intrigued by the long view of Mr. Z's pedigree and potential at stud.
We still don't have much evidence about Malibu Moon's performance as a sire of sires, many of his early Grade 1 winners are female and his first Grade 1-winning male, champion Declan's Moon, is a gelding. But Mr. Z's dam is a daughter of one of Sam-Son Farm's top producers, Amelia Bearhart, also dam of Grade 1 winner Explosive Red and champion Chief Bearhart. And Mr. Z's third dam is a Ribot half-sister to none other than Mr. Prospector.
It is safe to say, though, that Malibu Moon is doing just fine in his early years as a broodmare sire, especially for a stallion whose first daughters were bred in Maryland on small stud fees. Three of the first 15 stakes winners produced by Malibu Moon dams are Grade 1 winners and one of them, Stellar Wind, padded her bankroll Saturday at Santa Anita Park.
Winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks and beaten favorite in the Longines Kentucky Oaks after a rough trip, the John Sadler-trained filly got her nose down first in the Grade 2 Summertime Oaks. Stellar Wind is one of three Grade 1 winners by the Smart Strike son Curlin, who stands at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, Ky.
Found Money topped an exacta for another Smart Strike stallion, Square Eddie, when he defeated Mrazek (dam by Wild Rush) in Sunday's $125,250 Santa Anita Juvenile Stakes.
Square Eddie captured the Grade 1 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity in 2008 carrying J. Paul Reddam's purple and white colors in his U. S. debut. While he did run second to Midshipman in the subsequent Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he earned but one allowance victory in his final 12 outings and was retired to Vessels Stallion Farm in California. The Reddam homebred Found Money is out of a mare by the Seattle Slew son General Meeting, who anchored the California stallion ranks for many years at the Mabee family's Golden Eagle Farm.
As of this writing Square Eddie is the leading juvenile sire in North America by progeny earnings and is tied with Scat Daddy, Street Boss and Awesome of Course or first with five juvenile winners from seven starters (and just 37 foals). One of those, the Reddam-owned California-bred Quorum of Joy, a 2 1/4-length Santa Anita debut winner June 6, is also out of a General Meeting daughter.
Taylor Made Farm's Giant's Causeway stallion Eskendereya has been represented by a slew of winners from first crop over the past several months and some members of his second crop are getting their pictures taken, too. However, not many of them (just three) had earned black-type. That changed Sunday when Right There broke her maiden in the $125,500 Landaluce Stakes by 4 3/4 lengths. A $55,000 Stonestreet Farm purchase at last fall's Keeneland September yearling sale, Right There is out of a Deputy Minister half sister to 1997 champion 3-year-old male and dual classic winner Silver Charm. She is her sire's 31st winner from 73 starters (41 percent) and his first stakes winner.
Right There triggered a bit of a Giant's Causeway trifecta in the Landaluce. She defeated the Giant's Causeway daughter Alien Giant, who crossed the wire ahead of Sambamzajammin, by the Giant's Causeway son Heatseeker.
Matt O'Neil is a freelance writer and pedigree consultant based in Chicago. A former editor of Owner-Breeder International, his work has also appeared in numerous publications that include The Blood-Horse MarketWatch, The Florida Horse and Keeneland Magazine. He is currently marketing and social media coordinator for Adena Springs Farm and a partner in the fantasy horse racing game MyFantasyStable.com.