Joseph Eyes Florida Derby Preps After Allowance Win By Moonlite Strike

Sonata Stable’s Moonlite Strike is likely to embark on the Road to the Florida Derby (G1) following his gutsy victory in Thursday’s featured optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla.

Moonlite Strike ($4.80) withstood race-long outside pressure before prevailing by a head over Peachtree Stable’s Kiger, a stablemate in trainer Saffie Joseph Jr’s. barn, in the mile optional claiming allowance for 2-year-olds carded as Race 8 on a 10-race program.

“All races are under consideration. Kiger didn’t win so he’ll probably go back in one of those [optional claiming allowances] again, just because we have the option to develop him more. There are only stakes for Moonlite Strike,” Joseph said. “The Mucho Macho Man will be under consideration in about three weeks again. There is also the Holy Bull (G3) if we want to give him more time.”

The mile $100,000 Mucho Macho Man is scheduled to kick off Gulfstream’s Road to the Florida Derby on Jan. 2. The 1 1/16-mile $200,000 Holy Bull (G3) is scheduled for Jan. 30.

Moonlite Strike, who graduated by two lengths over a sloppy Gulfstream Park West in his second career start Nov. 14, broke cleanly from his No. 1 post position but was immediately confronted on the outside by Advance Cash and Real Talk. Jockey Edgard Zayas let the son of Liam’s Map settle into stride while racing inside of the early leaders before sending him to the lead on the far turn. Real Talk continued to press him into the stretch before tiring while Moonlite Strike forged ahead to open a clear lead in mid-stretch.

Kiger, who was rated behind the early speeders by Emisael Jaramillo, made a steady run through the stretch but was unable to get the better of his stablemate. Hercules finished third 5 ¼ lengths farther back.

“Moonlite Strike had kind of a tough trip and did it the hard way,” Joseph said. “Kiger got the run of the race, basically. Both ran well. Kiger didn’t switch leads. He’s a bit of a weird horse. There’s a lot more talent there, but he just waits, waits, waits. He got a good education today.”

Moonlite Strike, who ran a mile in 1:38.96, was sold at the 2019 Keeneland September sale for $120,000.

The post Joseph Eyes Florida Derby Preps After Allowance Win By Moonlite Strike appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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