Magnum Moon before winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Magnum Moon before winning the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park

Nicole Marie

Magnum Moon, Sporting Chance Look to Arkansas Derby

Rebel Stakes winner climbs to fifth on leaderboard.

The "most likely and most logical spot" for Robert and Lawana Low's Magnum Moon is the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 14 at Oaklawn Park, trainer Todd Pletcher said following the unbeaten colt's impressive victory in the March 17 Rebel Stakes (G2).

Magnum Moon, who made his stakes debut in the Rebel, recorded a 3 1/2-length victory over favored Solomini to likely secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) May 5 at Churchill Downs.

Ridden by Luis Saez, Magnum Moon covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.68, which is the fastest Rebel since 2011, when The Factor won in 1:42.19.

WINCZE HUGHES: Magnum Moon Shines Brightest in Rebel Stakes

Magnum Moon earned 50 qualifying points and climbed to fifth on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. The Kentucky Derby is limited to 20 starters, with preference given to horses with the highest point totals from designated races like the Rebel.

Pletcher assistant trainer Ginny DePasquale said Sunday morning that Magnum Moon and stablemate Hedge Fund emerged from their victories in good order. Hedge Fund was the frontrunning winner of the Essex Handicap for older horses that ran prior to the Rebel on the Hot Springs, Ark., oval.

"They both came back very well," said DePasquale, who saddled the horses in Pletcher's absence. "Both came back in good shape."

Magnum Moon is scheduled to fly back to his South Florida base March 19, but DePasquale said the flight may be delayed until March 20.

If Magnum Moon returns for the Arkansas Derby, Pletcher would be following the same script he did last year with Malagacy, who also, in his stakes debut, won the Rebel in his third start. Malagacy finished fifth in the Arkansas Derby. Neither Malagacy nor Magnum Moon raced as 2-year-olds.

Zayat Stables announced via social media that runner-up Solomini would likely be aimed to the April 7 Wood Memorial Stakes presented by NYRA Bets (G2).

"Solomini came out of his race perfect. (Trainer) Bob (Baffert) was happy with his race," Justin Zayat said on Twitter. "We discussed with my dad either stay in SA or go to the Wood. Was an easy decision—we are New Yorkers!!!"

Sporting Chance also emerged in good order from his fifth-place finish in the Rebel, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Sunday morning. He will be pointed to the Arkansas Derby.

A grade 1 winner at 2, Sporting Chance was beaten 5 3/4 lengths after an outside stalking trip under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez.

"It's hard for me to handle that one, because I thought I had him trained to the minute," Lukas said. "I really felt like he would run a monster race, and he didn't. He flattened out a little bit. He had a decent trip. I was disappointed in him. (I) don't have a lot of explanations, but he did come back good."

Sporting Chance ranks 38th on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with the two points he earned from a third-place finish in the Southwest Stakes (G3) Feb. 19.