Unbeaten Declan's Moon was much the best in winning Saturday's $100,000 Hollywood Prevue (gr. III) for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park.
The 2-5 favorite in the field of eight, the Maryland-bred Malibu Moon
gelding, ridden by Victor Espinoza, was under wraps at end, winning by two lengths. The final time for the seven furlongs was 1:21 3/5.
Under directions from trainer Ron Ellis to stalk the pace, Espinoza placed Declan's Moon into a stalking spot while third on the outside into the turn. By the time they hit the top of the stretch, the winner of the Del Mar Futurity (gr. II) had pacesetter Bushwacker in his sights. He wore down Bushwacker in upper stretch and by the eighth pole was in control. Declan's Moon cruised home under a hand ride.
Declan's Moon, who now has three wins – including a pair of graded victories – to his credit, is aiming for the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) Dec.18, Ellis said afterward. A victory in the Futurity over Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner Wilko and Champagne (gr. I) victor Proud Accolade could mean an Eclipse Award for the Jay Em Ess Stable runner.
"I told Victor to be aware of how much horse you have at the quarter pole, because a couple lengths is plenty and we've got a long road ahead of us," Ellis said. "The next race is a big race, and then on to next year.
"I couldn't be more excited with the way he ran. It was according to plan, but that doesn't always happen. I think definitely he could have won by more, but there's no sense. We don't get paid for winning by any more, and these real good 2-year-olds don't have the best history of moving forward the last few years. Hopefully we can be an exception to the rule, but I think he is a special horse.
"The next race is the big one for us," Ellis added. "Right now I'd say we're the front runner for the Eclipse Award, but I think we've got to finish it off and win the Hollywood Futurity and beat some of the good ones. And I think we've got the horse to do it."
"I really didn't want to just blow everybody away today, this being his first race back," Espinoza said. "I just wanted to go easy with him. I just let him gallop around there."
Bushwacker, with Rene Douglas aboard, set fast fractions of :21 4/5 and :44 1/5 while giving way stubbornly in a big effort to be second by a head. Big first-time maiden winner Seize the Day finished up well to be third with Corey Nakatani in the irons.
The victory pushed Declan's Moon's earnings to $239,400.
Part owner Samantha Siegel paid $125,000 the dark bay as a yearling. Brice Ridgely bred Declan's Moon, who is out of the dam Vee Vee Star (Norquestor).
He paid $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10. Bushwacker returned $6.20 and $2.60, completing a $33.20 exacta. Seize the Day's show was $2.20.
British raced Southern Africa, making his first start in the United States for trainer Michael Puhich, finished fourth, followed by Megabyte, Beat the Chalk, Twice Unbridled and Power Wave.