Trainer Ron Ellis shipped the 5-year-old Declan's Moon from his Hollywood Park base to Northern California in hopes of finding a confidence-building win after the Malibu Moon gelding finished last in the 1 1/16-mile San Pasqual Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita two weeks ago. But the result Saturday -- in which Declan's Moon pressured the pacesetter Dr. Einstein in the one-mile event for jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. before fading in the stretch -- was nearly a carbon copy of his earlier effort. He lost by seven lengths.
"That's the way he's been running," said Ellis. "He hits the quarter pole and is not interested in fighting at all. It just appears he doesn't want to put out. As soon as Jose went to ask him, he resisted."
The dark bay is winless in five starts since returning in July from a 16-month layoff following a victory in the Santa Catalina (gr. II) in March 2005. Declan's Moon developed a knee problem shortly after the Santa Catalina and also sustained a fracture to a cannon bone.
While Ellis thinks Declan's Moon's problem is mental, he said he'll try more tests. "We'll probably give him a nuclear scan to seen if there's anything we're missing," he said. "First, I want to make sure there's nothing physical."
"What a shame," said Valdivia. "He just won't go when the real running begins. Ron said with this being his first time with blinkers to let him go if he was keen to run. He said just be a good passenger. This horse was just loping along and not fighting me a bit. He felt great under me and I was thinking if the real Declan's Moon shows up these people are going to see a show because he'll win by 10 (lengths).
"But at the five-sixteenths pole, he started to come off the bit and I didn't like my chances at all," continued Valdivia. "When the real running started he didn't want to do it. It's just a shame because you know he's sound and you know he has the ability. You wish horses could talk so they could tell you if something inside is bothering them. It's really disappointing when you consider this horse was once a favorite for the Kentucky Derby."
Dr. Einstein just held off My Creed to win by a nose. Trained by Jerry Hollendorfer and ridden by Chad Schvaneveldt, Dr. Einstein was timed in 1:37.21 and paid $6.00 to win as the 2-to-1 second choice in a field of five. Raise the Bluff finished third.