Spendthrift Farm over the Moon in Kentucky

Orb became the first classic winner for Spendthrift Farm sire Malibu Moon in the 139th edition of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday.

Orb (3c Malibu Moon – Lady Liberty by Unbridled) had won the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes and G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park and had been the talk of the back stretch at Churchill Downs following his stellar half-mile work last Monday.

With a huge move around final turn and into the stretch, Orb rolled to victory for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey in front of a Derby Day crowd of 151,615.  The winner is raced by owner-breeders Stuart Janney III and Dinny Phipps who are cousins.

“Seth Hancock of Claiborne Farm was helpful in choosing Malibu Moon for the mating with Lady Liberty,” said Janney.  “I come from Maryland, and I was always interested in Malibu Moon.  He’s shown he is a top sire.”

Malibu Moon, a 16-year-old son of A P Indy, has become one of North America’s most consistent sires since retiring in 1999.  That he has done so is a credit to both his bloodlines and an astute decision by Spendthrift Farm’s B. Wayne Hughes.

Back in May 1999, Malibu Moon broke his maiden second-up at Hollywood Park before suffering a career-ending injury.  With his stud options limited, Hughes decided to keep a half-interest in his horse, and sold the other half to Country Life Farm in Maryland.

Malibu Moon stood for an initial fee of $3,000, and his pedigree – out of the G1 winning Mr. Prospector mare Macoumba – suggested his potential success as a sire.  Given a full book of mares at Country Life, the young stallion made the most of his opportunity.

In his first crop, Malibu Moon sired Perfect Moon (G2 Best Pal Stakes) and his second crop brought Champion 2YO Colt Declan’s Moon as well as Malibu Mint (G1 Princess Rooney Hcp).  Shortly after Declan’s Moon won the Eclipse Award in 2004, Malibu Moon moved from Maryland to Kentucky based Castleton Lyons and eventually returned to Spendthrift in 2008.

Over the past several years, he has sired G1 winners Life At Ten, Devil May Care, Ask the Moon, Malibu Prayer, Funny Moon, Eden’s Moon and recent standout Kauai Katie – all of whom are fillies.

Orb hails from a female family tree stacked with class tracing back through several generations but his dam Lady Liberty had failed to impress with her early offspring.  His second-dam Mesabi Maiden (Cox’s Ridge) won a Black-Eyed Susan Stakes and third dam Steel Maiden was a stakes winning half-sister to Wood Memorial winner and successful sire Private Terms.

“Seth said Lady Liberty’s a good-looking mare,” Janney continued.  “He said she’s by Unbridled and we needed to give her another chance.  That’s when I suggested Malibu Moon.”

Orb has now earned $2.33 million from a record of 8-5-0-1.  McGaughey said he will now head to the second-leg of the Triple Crown in the G1 Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.