Moon Ballad, a 3-year-old chestnut son of Singspiel, earned his first stakes win in Wednesday's Dante Stakes (Eng-II) at York, England. Godolphin's Saeed bin Suroor trainee completed the extended 1 1/4 mile Epsom Derby (Eng-I) prep in 2:07.06 on good to firm ground.
Jamie Spencer sent Moon Ballad to the front after a quarter-mile, and the $540,593 yearling purchase held on to win by 1 1/4 lengths over Bollin Eric (by Shaamit). The Aga Khan's Balakheri (Theatrical) finished third, with Where or When (Danehill Dancer) fourth of nine.
"I had most of them in trouble half a mile out and Moon Ballad wasn't stopping at the finish," said Spencer. "He seems well balanced and travels well."
Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, is still not convinced the 1 1/2 miles of the Epsom Derby will be to Moon Ballad's liking.
"Moon Ballad is a very genuine, honest horse -- it was a really progressive performance," Crisford said. "He will definitely act around Epsom but I wouldn't be so sure he will stay a mile and a half."
Godolphin's main threat for the Epsom classic remains Naheef, who ran below form in the Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I).
"Naheef has done very well since the Guineas and he would be our number one chance," Crisford explained. "He goes straight to Epsom Downs -- he didn't have a very hard race in the Guineas."
Moon Ballad was produced from the Shaadi mare Velvet Moon and was bred in Ireland by Newgate Stud Co.