What happened to Kentucky Derby contender Danzig Moon at Tampa?
Danzig Moon's stock as an interesting Kentucky Derby (G1) longshot has been rising since his smart works of late at Churchill Downs -- five furlongs in a bullet :58 April 18 and a half-mile in :48 4/5 on Friday.
The Mark Casse trainee sports a fantastic pedigree, and an upwardly mobile look off his second to Carpe Diem in the April 4 Blue Grass (G1). Two starts back, however, Danzig Moon threw in a clunker behind the same rival in the March 7 Tampa Bay Derby (G2).
That bad fourth, beaten more than a dozen lengths, is an outlier among his otherwise respectable efforts. And it might have come with some extenuating circumstances, as assistant trainer Norman Casse explained in the Derby notes from Churchill.
"Other than the Tampa Bay Derby, he has run well every time," Norman Casse said. "There were two reasons for the Tampa Bay results; one, he didn’t handle the track at all and came back with cuts on his hind legs and two or three days after that he came down with a virus that may have affected the performance."
He also noted how Danzig Moon has flourished since the Blue Grass.
"His preparation could not be any better and I feel he has moved up since the Blue Grass," Casse said.
So the Tampa race smacks of a toss-out for the improving Danzig Moon.
Photo credit: Reed Palmer/Churchill Downs.