Funny Moon came charging down the lane under Alan Garcia and outran a host of rivals in deep stretch to win the $300,000 Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I) (VIDEO) at Belmont Park July 25. It was the first graded stakes victory for the 3-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon.
Owned by Mrs. C. Wilson McNeely III and trained by Christophe Clement, Funny Moon won the 1 1/4-mile dirt race despite being last through three-quarters and then having to be swung wide for her stretch run. But the chestnut filly was up to the challenge, as she ran down Wynning Ride and Casanova Move, who took the field into the stretch, and held off Don't Forget Gil, who also closed well from between horses.
The final time on a ‘fast’ main track was 2:02.44.
It was Devotee who set the solid pace in the Coaching Club, posting fractions of :23.83, :47.11 and 1:10.76 under Mike Luzzi. Casanova Move stalked the whole way and the Langfuhr filly took over around the far turn, along with Wynning Ride. Those two were neck-and-neck at the top of the lane and were still battling inside the sixteenth-pole before Funny Moon, fifth with a furlong remaining, made her presence known with a big, late move. She grabbed the lead in the final yards and won by a neck.
“At the three-eighths pole she didn’t want to make the turn, she wanted to keep going straight,” said Garcia. “I tried to correct her because she was getting green at the top of the stretch. I saw I had a little filly left and all the time I was hitting her, she was giving me more.
“My filly, she gave me the best she had. The only problem was the turn: she didn’t want to make it. After that, my filly was much the best.”
Don’t Forget Gil, who had traffic troubles in the stretch, got up for second under Rajiv Maragh, a half-length in front of Wynning Ride. Casanova Move was fourth, a half-length better than even-money favorite Livin Lovin.
Funny Move entered the Coaching Club off a convincing 8 1/4-length victory in an optional claimer July 3 on a muddy Belmont track. Prior to that, she made her graded stakes debut in the June 6 Acorn Stakes (gr. I), finishing eighth. Funny Moon has now won four of her last five, as she broke her maiden at Gulfstream Park in March and scored in an allowance race at Belmont in May.
“I was very disappointed in her performance in the Acorn,” Clement said. “We loved the filly beforehand and it’s still a bit of a puzzle why she ran so badly that day, but it doesn’t matter anymore, she’s a grade I winner now. I thought we were definitely in the right spot; I even thought that (Garcia) moved a bit early in the turn, but obviously Alan knew more about the race than I did.
“She’s the most lovely mover, my filly. She’s very efficient and she has a very long stride. I’m not sure what’s next, I want to enjoy this first.”
Bred in Kentucky by Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Stautberg, Funny Moon is out of the Easy Goer mare Fun Crowd. The $175,000 yearling purchase is 4-1-0 from six starts with earnings of $265,900.
Sent off as the 7-1 fifth choice in a field of eight, Funny Moon paid $17.20, $8.50 and $6.70. The exacta (8-3) returned $248.50 and the trifecta (8-3-2) was $1,662.
Hightap was sixth, followed by What a Pear and Devotee.