It was easy to talk yourself in to a lot of different horses in the 2018 Rebel Stakes, but those that took a chance on 3/1 outsider Magnum Moon in his competitive debut were right on the money. The three-year-old son of Malibu Moon dusted a strong set of top rated rivals in the $900,000 race. It wasn’t just that he won – it was how he did it.
Title Ready and Curlin’s Honor led out early as the field hit fractions of :23.42 and :47.15 early on. Sporting Chance, who had gone off as a strong 9/2 shot, looked to be making his move early on but he was held off early by Magnum Moon who would not be intimidated. Trapped on the inside was even money favorite Solimini. It was a hectic battle from the beginning with colts really bumping for position.
Around the final turn, Title Ready was devoured by the better colts but seemingly bumped Solimini. It was tough to tell – Solimini looked to charge on the inside but was inevitably cut off by Title Ready who had the right of way as the pace setter. Solimini was forced to bounce outside and was joined by Combatant who had streamed from the clouds. But nobody was catching Magnum Moon on this day as he strode valiantly and defiantly to the line, sling shotting past Title Ready en route to victory in the 2018 Rebel Stakes. The final time was 1:43.68 over the 1 1/16th mile race.
“He was traveling pretty good,” noted Luis Saez who was aboard Magnum Moon. “He broke good and was in the right spot. When he came to the stretch, he just kept running and never stopped. He proved today that he can really run.”
The 2018 Rebel Stakes maintained an undefeated streak for Magnum Moon and now has him on track for the Kentucky Derby with Todd Pletcher guiding the process. “We felt like we had a very talented colt,” Pletcher said. “We were very pleased with his first two races, but this was a step up in class and running against accomplished, seasoned colts. We were confident that he was training very well, coming into it in great shape, and just hoped he could handle the continued rise in class.”
With the win, Magnum Moon paid out $8.00, $3.60 and $3.00 across the board. Solimini fought well and respectfully for a $2.80 and $2.40 return while Combatant muscled to third at 8/1 with a $3.20 payout.
It’s not the end of days for Solimini, and his connections know that the inside wasn’t where he belonged. A seemingly busy Kentucky Derby prep race circuit is getting even busier and more. Magnum Moon will hope to use his 2018 Rebel Stakes victory to give him the necessary momentum to challenge Justify in the Arkansas Derby.