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Funny Moon: set to shoot for the stars

FUNNY MOON
3 f Malibu Moon - Fun Crowd (Easy Goer)

THE compiler of the morning line for Saturday's Coaching Club American Oaks had recent wide-margin winner Funny Moon as 5-2 favourite for the Grade 1 event that has long been recognised as America's top race for three-year-old fillies.

It turned out that he was well wide of the mark, because in business at the windows the daughter of Malibu Moon was largely ignored, going off at 7-1, while fourof her seven rivals were preferred to her. But if it was a poor prediction of how the punters would bet, as an assessment of how they ought to have bet it was spot-on.

The forecast 3-1 shot Livin Lovin was the one that everyone seemed to fancy, backed down from 6-4 to even money in the last few minutes before the off, but she came back a disappointing fifth behind the neglected Funny Moon, who came from the rear with a powerful run in the straight to prevail by aneck and half a length over Don't Forget Gil and Wynning Ride.


It would be unrealistic to suggest that this was a vintage edition of a race which dates from 1917 and was won in the past by such acknowledged champions as Top Flight, Twilight Tear, Shuvee, Chris Evert and Ruffian. In a year when Rachel Alexandra so clearly dominates her female contemporaries - as well as nearly all the males - this could only be about an attempt to discover who might be second-best of the crop.

Funny Moon just might be the one, because she has shown progressive form while still lacking experience, and there is every reason to believe that there may be further improvement in the future.

Unraced as a two-year-old, the filly broke her maiden over 1m at the second time of asking in mid-March at Gulfstream Park. She returned in May for a smooth three-length win over the same trip in allowance company, doing the job well enough for trainer Christophe Clementto believe he had a potential Grade 1 winner on his hands.

He was right, but the confirmation did not come in the Acorn Stakes, the 1m feature for three-year-old fillies on the Belmont Stakes under-card. A fancied 4-1 chance, Funny Moon met traffic problems that day, never promised to get in contention, and wound up eighth of the nine runners. Favoured with clear runs, Casanova Move (third) and Livin Lovin (fourth) were among those who beat her, but who could not confirm the form on Saturday.

The race that indicated that Funny Moon might be a great deal better than her run in the Acorn suggested was an allowance/optional claimer at Belmont on June 3, when she stormed home with more than eight lengths to spare and had UAE Oaks winner Devotee back in third place. That assumption was amply borne out in the Coaching Club, when she ran so wide on the turn for home as to evoke memories of Lyphard at Tattenham Corner, but then engaged top gear and sped by six of her rivals in the last two furlongs.

Bought by agent Debbie Easter for $175,000 as a yearling at Saratoga, Funny Moon comes from the sixth crop of her sire Malibu Moon, a son of A.P. Indy whose racing career consisted of only two starts as a juvenile before injury necessitated his retirement. A 5f maiden win in quick time (57:41s) at Hollywood Park indicated that he had plenty of speed, but any presumed potential remained unfulfilled; it was hard to guess what he might have achieved if he had been sounder, though his pedigree suggested that he would not just have been a sprinter.

It is not easy for a horse who has not given evidence of superior racing class to make the grade as a stallion. Danzig was one who famously succeeded without winning in stakes company, but he at least won three out of three and had acquired a formidable reputation by dint of performances in the mornings which persuaded work-watchers of his exceptional talent; breeders trusted him with good mares from the outset.

Malibu Moon could not count on that kind of support when he retired to stud in Maryland as a three-year-old at a fee of only $3,000. He was going to need to earn better opportunities by upgrading indifferent mares, and he promptly did just that.
From his first crop of 62 named foals, 53 got to the races, 44 won, 13 of them as two-year-olds, and seven became stakes-winners.

The pick of the group was the gelded Perfect Moon, produced by an unraced mare with a modest pedigree background. He fetched only $4,700 as a yearling, but by the end of his first season he had earned $353,870, with wins in the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship and Grade 2 Best Pal Stakes to his credit, plus two third places in other Californian Grade 2 events. Malibu Moon was surely a stallion who needed to be taken seriously.

After four seasons in Maryland, Malibu Moon switched to Castleton Lyons in Kentucky at an enhanced fee of $10,000, but once his second crop of youngsters had demonstrated their merits, the charge clearly had to be raised again. The star of that batch was Declan's Moon, a gelding out of Grade 2-placed Vee Vee Star who was his sire's top-priced 2003 yearling at $125,000 and his nation's champion juvenile in 2004, when four undefeated runs included victories in the Grade 3 Hollywood Prevue Stakes, the Grade 2 Del Mar Futurity and the Grade 1 Hollywood Futurity.

After another move, this time to Spendthrift, Malibu Moon has become used to covering three-figure books and he can count on receiving plenty of real quality mares at a fee of $40,000. Funny Moon's rise to Grade 1 glory can only enhance his standing with Kentucky breeders.

Funny Moon is the seventh foal of her dam Fun Crowd, whose previous best were the restricted stakes-winner Throng and Listed-placed winner Home Crowd. Though unraced herself, the mare is well connected, as half-sister to three stakes-winners, most notably the versatile Vanlandingham, a horse proficient on both dirt and turf whose ten successes included Grade 1 scores as a four-year-old in the Suburban Handicap, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Washington International.

Three of her half-sisters have produced notable performers, Popular Tune as dam of Top Hit (Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby), Kamkova with Kirkwall (Grade 2 Keeneland Turf Mile), and Musicanti with Distant Music (Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes). A generation further back we find four-time Grade 1 winner Temperence Hill.

This family has moved up considerably since Funny Moon's fourth dam Idaliza arrived in the States from England. She ran nine times in her adopted country and never earned a cent.

Bred by Gerald J. & Mrs Stautberg in Kentucky. $175,000 Saratoga yearling. _______________________________________________________________________

PEDIGREE ASSESSMENT

SIRE: MALIBU MOON

Bred by B. Wayne Hughes in Kentucky. Ran only at 2 years, won 1 (5f) of 2 races, also placed 2nd. Earned $33,840.
Quite well-made, strong-looking sort. Showed speed in very brief career, bred to stay at least 1m.

Very well bred. By an outstanding runner and sire out of a French Gr1 winner who was herself half-sister to stakes-winners Septieme Ciel (Gr1), Maxigroom (Gr3), Balchaia (Listed) and Manureva (Listed) and to 4 lesser winners.

Grand-dam Gr1 winner, Classic-placed, half-sister to Vilikaia (Gr3 winner, Classic-placed), Navratilovna (Gr2 winner) and Moivouloirtoi (Listed winner). Next dam half-sister to Classic winner Nonoalco and Gr3 winner Stradavinsky. Excellent family.

Stands at Spendthrift Farm, Lexington, Kentucky, at a fee of $40,000. Sire of 7 crops of racing age, inc. notable winners: Ah Day (Gr3), Perfect Moon (Gr2), Declan's Moon (Hollywood Futurity-Gr1), Malibu Mint (Princess Rooney H.-Gr1), Moon Catcher (Gr2), Sweet August Moon (Gr3), Raw Silk (Gr3), Funny Moon (Coaching Club American Oaks-Gr1), Sara Louise (Gr3).

DAM: FUN CROWD

Bred by Juddmonte Farms in Kentucky. Unraced.
Well bred. By a top-class runner and quite successful sire. Half-sister to multiple Gr1 winner Vanlandingham (by Cox's Ridge) and Gr1-placed Listed winner Jenkins Ferry (by True Colors), and to the dams of Distant Music (Gr1), Kirkwall (Gr2) and TopHit (Gr3). Dam won 2 races, half-sister to multiple Gr1 winner Temperence Hill and Canadian stakes-winner Across the Channel. Grand-dam won 3 races, half-sister to 3 snmart stakes-winners.

Next dam unplaced in 9 starts, sister to useful English middle-distance handicapper Hinton Blewett.

To stud at 4 years and dam of: Carnival Lad (1998 c by Caerleon; placed), unnamed (1999 f by Sea Hero; unraced), Allou (2000 f by Seattle Slew; placed), Silver Broker (2001 g by Silver Deputy; winner), Throng (2003 c by Silver Deputy; stakes-winner), Home Crowd (2005 f by Came Home; stakes-placed winner), Funny Moon (2006 f by Malibu Moon; Gr1 winner), Join the Fun (2007 f by Hennessy; unraced to date). She has a yearling filly by Malibu Moon. Barren in 2004.

CONCLUSIONS

Well bred, progressive filly who promises to keep improving. Stays 1m2f well.

 

 

 

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