March 21, 2010

Bella Luna

Don’t look now, but there is a sire who is quietly building a strong pair of contenders for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. In the past week his progeny, Odysseus and Devil May Care, scored in major preps. His name is Malibu Moon, and I consider him one of the best sires in America and he has done it under the radar of many. Regally bred, the 13-year-old sire is a son of the great A.P. Indy out of a grade 1 winning Mr. Prospector mare named Macoumba. Bred to be a standout on the track, Malibu Moon only raced two times in his career, where he displayed the precociousness of his mother by running 2nd in a maiden in April and then impressively winning a May maiden in racehorse time. Malibu Moon was clearly a horse with a big future, but it would not be on the track, as a fracture in his knee ended his career almost before it began. The big colt was sent to Country Life Farm in Maryland.

Country Life Farm is the oldest stud farm in Maryland and is the birthplace of Hall of Fame runner Cigar. It is not a farm with the most expensive sires in the world, however. Malibu Moon took to stud life smoothly at the young age of three. Because of his lack of a racing career, he was not predicted for stardom as a sire. Despite his pedigree and good looks, he began his career at stud for the small fee of $3,000. Standing in Maryland with a small stud fee, Malibu Moon was not sent blueblood mares by any means. Yet despite of this, he was an immediate success, siring multiple stakes winners in his first two crops. In his second crop, he sired the 2004 juvenile champion Declan’s Moon. Suddenly Malibu Moon was a hot commodity. As Business Manager at Country Life Farm, Michael Pons, tells it, “He got too good to stay in the minor leagues, he had to go to the majors.” In American breeding, the majors is the bluegrass of Kentucky.

First on to Castleton Lyons in Kentucky and then on to legendary Spendthrift Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, Malibu Moon has made a steady climb up the ranks of American stallions. B. Wayne Hughes’ Spendthrift Farm is the majority owner of Malibu Moon, with both Country Life and Castleton Lyons retaining a one quarter interest in the top stud. At Spendthrift, he now stands for $40,000 and covers a high quality list of mares. Malibu Moon is that rare stud who has proved successful at every level of breeding, from the basement to the penthouse, he continues to shine.

In 2009, Malibu Moon was represented by 12 different stakes winners. This represents the fourth consecutive year he led A.P. Indy sires in number of stakes winners. He now rivals the outstanding sire Pulpit, as the leader of the great Seattle Slew-A.P. Indy line. A short list of horses sired by Malibu Moon in his first seven crops include Declan’s Moon, Malibu Mint, Life at Ten, Ah Day, Moon Catcher, Perfect Moon, Malibu Moonshine, Sara Louise, Raw Silk, Malibu Prayer, Luna Vega, By The Light, Bon Jovi Girl, and of course, current sophomore stars Odysseus and Devil May Care. In Odysseus and Devil May Care, Malibu Moon has two horses with a legitimate chance to take home the big prizes at Churchill Downs.

I am happy to report that friends of mine have ventured into thoroughbred ownership, and their first horse is a three-year-old son of Malibu Moon. Michael and Lynn Horvath bought stake in a Country Life partnership for a single horse. They were specifically looking for a Maryland based horse out of Malibu Moon. Moon was a sire they had grown to like from their trips to the races. Lacrosse Moon, out of a Temperence Hill mare, fit the bill. The colt has been working steadily and is getting close to a first career start. Look for him to make his career debut at the upcoming Pimlico meet. Considering he is a son of Malibu Moon, they may just have something there. Best of luck Lacrosse Moon.

Malibu Moon is one of those rare sires who has not seen his stud fee drop because of the economic downturn. His fee has held steady at $40,000 for several years, and he is the clear king of the heap at Spendthrift Farm. A sire I have long liked and often considered underrated, I think the secret of Malibu Moon is now completely out of the bag Come Oaks and Derby weekend, he may well be the toast of the bluegrass. One thing is for sure, Malibu Moon is a stud.

9 comments:

LDP said...

Seatle Slew has some nice bloodlines. I know AP Indy also has Secretariat, but it is debatable that most of the talent that MM passes on is from SS. I hope he continues to carry on that great line, because there is no doubt that it is probably one of the best in America.

Brian Zipse said...

You are right on there LDP. I only meant that Malibu Moon carries on the superlative sire line of Seattle Slew and A.P.Indy, but of course, A.P Indy was produced by one of the greatest broodmares of modern times, the Secretariat mare Weekend Surprise.

Michael said...

Great article Brian. Of course I may be biased but actually reading about Malibu Moon's success gets me more excited at the thought of seeing Lacrosse in a post parade. Even though he hasn't raced yet, this has been a thrill from day 1 and I would urge anyone with an interest in ownership to look into an LLC which makes thoroughbred ownership a reality for us "common folk". (And don't forget to add Lacrosse Moon to your DRF or Equibase watches to follow his progress).

Brian Zipse said...

Thank you Michael...I can't wait to see you, Lynn, and Lacrosse Moon in the winner's circle very soon!

Michael said...

Brian, Just so you know in advance, if it happens to be Preakness weekend, you are definitely invited to the winner's circle photo!!

Brian Zipse said...

I'll take you up on that offer Michael!

sid fernando said...

Zip, nice piece. Here's a bit of trivia: From his first crop conceived at the Pons farm, he got the 2004 Russian Oaks winner Moon Thistle, a $4,000 2yo in training. Her success made Malibu Moon one of the most desirable stallions in Russia, and his sire line---A.P. Indy---has proven to be just as popular in Moscow. So, to bring symmetry to your post, last August the Malibu Moon colt Static Memory, a $15,000 y, won the Russian Derby---giving him a unique double! Moreover, the leading runner in Russia is Monomakh--also a Russian Derby winner. He is by Mineshaft, another son of A.P. Indy.

Brian Zipse said...

Interesting Sid...Sounds like the Russians are onto Malilibu Moon.

Jennifer said...

Great story, Brian. (I was so impressed with Devil May Care in the Bonnie Miss. I thought Christine Daae or Bickersons might take her. What a great horse.)