Longshot Moonwalk proved light on her feet early and tenacious late in earning a hard-fought nose victory over Kitten's Point in the JPMorgan Chase Jessamine Stakes (gr. IIIT) Oct. 11 at Keeneland (VIDEO).
After racing prominently throughout, Spendthrift Farm's Moonwalk found herself between Summer of Fun and Sunset Time in the stretch of the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 2-year-old fillies. Moonwalk dug down to seize the lead in deep stretch and then just held off a furious rally by Kitten's Point to upset the field.
While Moonwalk had earned a stakes-placing in her previous effort, finishing third in the Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Kentucky Downs, she was dismissed by the betting public in the Jessamine at 36-1. But winning jockey Corey Lanerie kept Moonwalk in contention early and she responded late.
"My horse broke really sharp; kinda surprised me," Lanerie said. "Last time I rode her, I was a little off the pace. Today she came out there running. She was going real easy so I tried to take nothing away from her and just ride her where she was comfortable. Actually they got by her and she dug in. She refused to lose."
Moonwalk pressed the pace set by Sunset Time, who clipped off quarter mile splits of :23.89, :49.56, and 1:15.26 over firm going.
Winning trainer Dale Romans said Moonwalk likely will be pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (gr. IT) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita Park. She earned a spot there as the Jessamine is a Breeders’ Cup "Win and You’re In" race.
"She’s doing good and she can run, so we’ll give her a shot. She showed how much she can run," Romans said. "I don’t know why we wouldn’t. You have a free roll."
Romans will talk it over with owner-breeder B. Wayne Hughes. Moonwalk not only is a homebred for Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm, she also is by their successful sire Malibu Moon .
Under 118 pounds, Moonwalk completed the Jessamine in 1:45.17 and paid $74, $28.40, and $17.40. Kitten’s Point returned $5.60 and $4.40 while Bona Venture Stables’ Summer of Fun paid $4.80 to show. Always Kitten, favored at 5-2, was in contention in midpack on the turn but faded to 10th.
Kitten’s Point, a homebred for George Strawbridge Jr.’s Augustin Stable, had to settle for the closest of seconds in her second career start. The Kitten's Joy filly registered a clear victory in a six-furlong maiden special weight race at Presque Isle Downs Sept. 22. She impressed her rider John Velazquez.
"She was very game for everything I asked her to do," Velazquez said. "I thought I won the race."
Spendtrhift consigned Moonwalk to last year’s Keeneland September yearling sale where she received a top bid of $220,000 but failed to reach her reserve. Out of the winning multiple stakes-placed Red Ransom mare Lucinda K, Moonwalk is a half sister to stakes winner Thatswhatimean, and two other stakes-placed runners.