Perfect Moon spoiled the stakes debut of highly regarded Ruler's Court in the $102,500 Hollywood Juvenile Championship (gr. III) at Hollywood Park Saturday with a crafty ride from Patrick Valenzuela.
Valenzuela, who has clinched the title as the meet's leading rider, forced Ruler's Court, making just his second start, at least three wide throughout the turn in the six-furlong heat. Perfect Moon kicked on in the stretch to register a 2 1/2-length win over pacesetting Blairs Roarin Star and Tyler Baze. Ruler's Court and jockey David Flores staggered home third, beaten by 5 1/2 lengths at odds of 1-5 in the five-horse field of 2-year-old colts. The final time was 1:10 1/5.
Valenzuela and Perfect Moon, who is owned by the Hat Ranch and Annabelle Stute and trained by Mel Stute, had to withstand an objection lodged by Baze on behalf of Blairs Roarin Star. Perfect Moon swerved toward the inside in the home stretch under right-handed whipping and brushed with the runner-up before Valenzuela got the Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon straightened out.
The stewards conducted an inquiry into the stretch run of the top pair but made no change when they ruled the light contact between those two did not alter the original order of finish. A claim of foul by the rider of the runner-up against the winner was not allowed for the same reason.
Blairs Roarin Star jumped out to the lead and had a three-length advantage after an opening quarter-mile of :22 1/5, :44 3/5 for the half and :57 1/5 for five furlongs. Perfect Moon stayed inside of Ruler's Court into the turn as they hit the turn. When Ruler's Court made his move in the stretch, Perfect Moon stayed with him and persevered in the run to the wire.
Ruler's Court had broken his maiden at Hollywood to much acclaim after a five-furlong victory in a meet-best :57 2/5 for his high profile connections, Darly Stud Management and trainer Eoin Harty. He was a $400,000 Florida purchase.
By contrast, Perfect Moon broke his maiden against $40,000 claimers at Hollywood in May and was a $4,700 purchase as a yearling. He won for the second time in six starts this year while increasing his earnings to more than $90,000.
The second choice at 3-1, Perfect Moon paid $8, $4.40 and $2.10. Blairs Roaring Star returned $10 and $2.10. Ruler's Court paid $2.10. The $2 exacta was worth $86.