$1.6 million RNA for Donegal Moon; Maker, Catch a Glimpse among recent storylines

Profile Picture: James Scully

July 13th, 2016

Little explanation was offered for putting Donegal Moon up for auction and news of a $1.6 million RNA (didn’t meet the reserve) at Monday’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky sale made less sense for an unproven commodity in the 3-year-old ranks.

How much were connections expecting to reap?

The colt weakened to finish off the board in the listed Sir Barton Stakes at Pimlico on May 21 and was up the track in the Blue Grass (G1) before that. In fact, Donegal Moon had failed to place in all five stakes starts before an upset victory in June 19 Pegasus (G3) at Monmouth Park.

Perhaps connections thought prospective buyers would overspend even though Donegal Moon defeated runner-up Extinct Charm and third-placer Awesome Slew last time.

Granted, the Pegasus was an encouraging performance, a race Donegal Moon can continue to build upon, and he won’t be the first 3-year-old to develop into a formidable presence after the Triple Crown is over. But he still has to prove it. Expecting a seven-figure payday for a 3-year-old who presently doesn’t rank among the top 15 horses in his division proved unrealistic.

Here are some other thoughts while waiting for morning-line odds on Del Mar’s opening-day program:

Mike Maker has become a maestro with long-distance turf horses haltered out of claiming races.

Last summer, the former D. Wayne Lukas assistant received Da Big Hoss after he was claimed for $50,000 out of a Churchill Downs race. The gelding went on to capture a pair of stakes in 2015, including the Kentucky Turf Cup (G3), and has really come on this season, winning three of four starts including the Belmont Gold Cup most recently. He’s earned nearly $1 million since joining the Maker barn.

More recently, the 47-year-old conditioner took over the training of Greengrassofyoming after he was claimed for $62,500 from a June 26 claiming race at Churchill Downs and the 6-year-old gelding promptly won last Saturday’s Stars and Stripes (G3) at Arlington in his first start for the new stable.

It’s been a big summer for Maker, who also sent out Sir Dudley Digges to a 15-1 upset in the $1 million Queen’s Plate on July 3.

Like many observers, I was highly impressed by Belmont Oaks (G1) winner Catch a Glimpse, who probably would’ve defeated male rivals in the Belmont Derby (G1) earlier on Saturday’s program. The City Zip filly continued to dominate with her speed, leading wire to wire in the 1 ¼-mile affair, and she’s now unbeaten in eight turf starts, the lone defeat coming in her career debut on the main track. When Florent Geroux called upon his filly leaving the far turn, Catch a Glimpse accelerated powerfully away from the competition.

Time and Motion continued her upward progression for Jimmy Toner, offering a strong rally to be a clear second, but she was no match for Catch a Glimpse, who provides trainer Mark Casse with unbelievable depth in the turf ranks along with stablemate Tepin. Both are graded stakes winners over males.

When it comes to form cycles, Effinex is an outlier. The 5-year-old continued to show that a bad race means absolutely nothing for him, rebounding from a dull sixth-place clunker in the June 18 Stephen Foster (G1) to win Saturday’s Suburban (G2) for the second straight year. He captured last year’s Suburban after becoming unhinged and bolting toward the outside rail in his previous start, a “DNF” (did not finish) in the Brooklyn H. (G2).