It was a pretty incredible month of May for the sire Malibu Moon , who saw his son Orb win the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and his son Freedom Child take the Peter Pan Stakes (gr. II) one week later. Either one of those two could make June pretty special for their sire should they triumph in the June 8 Belmont Stakes (gr. I).
Sixteen-year-old Malibu Moon (A.P. Indy--Macoumba, by Mr. Prospector) stands at B. Wayne Hughes' Spendthrift Farm near Lexington after beginning his stallion career at the Pons family's Country Life Farm in Maryland.
The Off-Broadway beginning was due to his very brief race career, which consisted of two races and a brilliant maiden score at Hollywood Park before injury ended his time at the racetrack.
That brilliance, and his top-shelf pedigree, is what sustained Malibu Moon as a stallion prospect despite his abbreviated race record. He has proven himself many times over in the breeding shed, collecting 64 stakes winners who have scored in 155 added-money victories to date.
Although he has become known for his female progeny, two starters in the Belmont go a long way toward establishing Malibu Moon as a more versatile stallion.
"He is a wonderful stallion," said Ned Toffey, general manager at Spendthrift, "with a great body of work. But when you have a couple of horses involved in a classic, it adds a whole new dimension and furthers his career."
Spendthrift has little problem filling Malibu Moon's book with worthy mares, but when Orb took the Derby, the phone lines began heating up with more requests to bring mares his way. Fortunately, Malibu Moon, currently number two on the national sires list, had cooperated by stopping his mares so well that he had openings in his little black book for more dates. So even with a full book, the farm was able to add mares from top breeders late in the season. Fertility has its advantages.
Malibu Moon stood for between $70,000 and $90,000 this year. Even at far more modest numbers, and partnered with more modest mares, Malibu Moon has been a success at every phase of his stud career. From his initial crop came champion 2-year-old male Declan's Moon. Through the years his fillies have really made noise, as Malibu Moon has sired grade I-winning females Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Malibu Mint, Ask The Moon, Malibu Prayer, Funny Moon, and Eden's Moon. Currently grade I winner Kauai Katie is continuing the tradition.
"The only knock on him has been a lack of top colts, so this helps put an end to that," said Toffey. "We've seen so many grand-looking colts from him that we felt like it was only a matter of time. Odysseus (winner of the Tampa Bay Derby, gr. III) was promising but died early. A couple of other good ones had bad luck as well, so if just a couple of things went differently this chapter of Malibu Moon's career would already be behind him."
The speed shown by Freedom Child, going gate-to-wire to win the Peter Pan by 13 1/4 lengths, displays the other dimension provided by Malibu Moon. Certainly, in his lone victory, Malibu Moon sparkled with the same sort of devastating speed.
"That's part of his appeal, in addition to his pedigree," Toffey noted. "He was tremendously precocious in his training as a 2 year old. Malibu Moon demonstrated so much more speed than was typical for an A.P. Indy. Macoumba is hot-blooded and the speed comes from that Mr. Prospector influence. These Malibu Moon offspring can be intense."
Macoumba was a group I winner in her native France.
So you have the versatility of the late-running Orb, whose charge from the back of the pack in the Derby was an eye-catching performance, and the brilliance of Freedom Child, who figures to be leading the Belmont field soon after leaving the gate. Either one getting the carnations on his back after the race would signal further what is evident to horsemen: Malibu Moon continues to be on the rise.