Over the Moon for Saturday’s Las Virgenes
With Horse of the Year Authentic (Into Mischief) off to the breeding shed to stand alongside his superstar sire at Spendthrift Farm, how do you follow up on a 2020 season that included wins in the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Breeders’ Cup Classic?
For Michael Behrens’s budding MyRacehorse microshare partnership and B. Wayne Hughes’s Spendthrift Farm, having a promising filly on the GI Kentucky Oaks trail is certainly a good place to begin.
Moonlight d’Oro (Medaglia d’Oro), a visually impressive maiden winner for Hall of Famer Richard Mandella in her two-turn debut going a mile at Los Alamitos Dec. 13 (video), kicks off her sophomore campaign versus four rivals in Saturday’s GIII Las Virgenes S. at Santa Anita. The one-mile contest offers 10-4-2-1 qualifying points on the road to the Kentucky Oaks.
“It’s a tough act to follow,” MyRacehorse’s Racing Operations and Owner Experience Manager Joe Mishak said. “We always want to provide the shareholders with exciting times to look forward to. You want to be on the Classic trail, and to have a filly like this, makes it exciting.”
Moonlight d’Oro first caught the eye splitting horses in deep stretch after getting outsprinted early to finish an educational second as the 3-5 chalk on debut last summer at Del Mar Aug. 2 (Second Chances). She ran well in defeat once again second out, completing the trifecta going six furlongs at Del Mar Nov. 7.
Her stalk-and-pounce, three-length maiden victory–good for a very strong 87 Beyer Speed Figure–was further flattered when distant third-place finisher that day Moraz (Empire Maker) resurfaced with a blowout maiden win of her own in Arcadia Jan. 8. Moraz re-opposes in the Las Virgenes.
“We’re really excited,” Mishak said. “She definitely executed the two sprints to a route perfectly. It all came together in that third race where she was forwardly placed and was push button when Flavien [Prat] asked her on the far turn. We’ve had this one circled on the calendar for a while now. Obviously, we’re all highly anticipating her stakes debut.”
Bred in Kentucky by Stonehaven Steadings, the $620,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase is a half-sister to the juvenile graded stakes-placed Olive Branch (Speightstown). Moonlight d’Oro’s winning dam Venetian Sonata (Bernardini) is a full-sister to GSW Wilburn and SW & GSP La Appassionata and a half-sister to GSW Beethoven (Sky Mesa).
Moonlight d’Oro’s worktab–highlighted by a five-furlong move in 1:00.40 (2/32) Jan. 20 and a six-furlong bullet in 1:12.60 (1/6) Jan. 27–includes some in company experience with the three-time, graded stakes-placed 6-year-old mare and ‘TDN Rising Star’ Amuse (Medaglia d’Oro).
“She’s trained superb,” Mishak said. “Everything that Team Mandella has thrown at her, she’s passed with flying colors. She’s super eager in her training. He gave her a little bit of time off after that maiden win–just a few weeks to decompress and get a little breather–and she picked up right where she left off. With the eyes on the prize, hopefully, we have a long spring campaign ahead of us.”
In addition to co-owners Madaket Stables and Starlight Racing, no fewer than 5,314 shareholders were in on Authentic. The ownership experience with MyRacehorse is also designed to be an educational one, per Mishak.
“The cool thing about Moonlight d’Oro and her shareholders is that we packaged her in a group of four fillies to teach about diversification and show why that strategy is so important,” he said. “If you own one horse, and hey, it turns out to be Authentic, great. You really hit a homerun. But in all probability, you’re going to run into some difficulties that come along with horse ownership. The three other fillies in the group had some minor 2-year-old hiccups and we had to send them to the farm. Moonlight’s been the bright spot of the bunch and has been getting people excited, and now those other fillies are making their comebacks as well.”
Along with the continued support of the high-powered Spendthrift operation, MyRacehorse re-loaded at the yearling sales last fall, purchasing 14 head ($3.355 million total) at Keeneland September, led by a $600,000 Into Mischief colt. MyRacehorse also spread out another $850,000 on three yearlings at the Fasig-Tipton Showcase, with a $450,000 Into Mischief colt at the forefront.
MyRacehorse and Spendthrift Farm also campaign MGSP 4-year-old Tizamagician (Tiznow), runner-up in last weekend’s GII San Pasqual S.
“We had 17 yearlings that we purchased right off the heels of Authentic and it was met with so much enthusiasm where it was sold out very quickly within the matter of days,” Mishak said. “There’s still a very big appetite and demand for shares in horses and getting into ownership.”
Mishak concluded with a laugh, “I think the shareholders are literally over the moon, pun intended.”