‘Hard-Luck’ Captivating Moon Takes Aim On Dueling Grounds Derby

Trainer Chris Block is hoping that Captivating Moon, the 3-1 favorite for Wednesday’s rescheduled $400,000 Exacta Systems Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs can turn one of his seconds into the colt’s first stakes victory. Captivating Moon will be ridden by Florent Geroux, who won two stakes last Saturday, including the $750,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup on Arklow.

“He’s just been kind of a hard-luck horse,” Block said by phone from Lexington, where he’s been at the Keeneland sales. “He’s run against some good horses that have just been a little bit better than him at times. He’s also run into some circumstances that I think if there had been more solid pace up front, maybe softening it up, he might have been able to run them down. But he’s pretty hardy, pretty consistent and I expect him to show up Wednesday.”

Captivating Moon, owned and bred by one of Block’s major clients in Lothenbach Stables, possesses six seconds out of 11 lifetime starts, to go with a maiden and allowance victory. The seconds have all been in stakes, including Arlington Park’s Grade 3 American Derby, Churchill Downs’ Grade 2 American Turf on the Kentucky Derby undercard and Keeneland’s Grade 3 Transylvania.

“He’s a grinder. He’s not one who has a huge turn of foot,” Block said. “But once he gets his momentum going, he can really stretch it out and keep on moving and trucking down through that stretch. I think he’s been a victim of pace a lot of times. The race at Louisville in May, that was just a bog, and it took Frenchy (Geroux) just a long time to get him going. Once he got him going, he got him into a little better ground up high there, and he was able to come on and run a real solid second. But he needs some help up front going anything a mile and an eighth or under. I think the mile and five-sixteenths might just hit him real well. The distance allows him to get into gear in his own rhythm, rather than having to push him into gear. I think Flo will be able to get him into a rhythm and he can pick it up and not have to worry about the pace up front.”

Block added blinkers for Captivating Moon’s his last start, a respectable fifth in Arlington’s Grade 1 Secretariat, when the son of the Spendthrift Farm stallion Malibu Moon was just a neck out of third in the 1 1/4-mile race.

“We added blinkers to try to get him a little more involved early, so he’s not so far back,” Block said. “Flo seemed to think that helped, and I did, too. So we left them on for this. He’s not the kind of horse that gets too aggressive with them on. I’m hoping it just keeps him a little more focused. He can get a little sloppy when he finishes; he wants to flop to his left lead and back to his right sometimes. My thought was that the blinkers might focus him a little better, to where he does maintain that stretch run without getting sloppy about it.

“In the Secretariat, he put in his run. Of course you want to win, but I think he’s just that kind of horse, beaten three lengths to some good horses, I’m pretty proud of how he ran. But I think he is what he is. I think he’s going to be pretty useful horse in the longer races next year.”

The Chicago-based Block has won five stakes the past decade at Kentucky Downs, including the signature Grade 3 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup with Ioya Bigtime in 2012 and Suntracer in 2014.

The post ‘Hard-Luck’ Captivating Moon Takes Aim On Dueling Grounds Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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