This has been a good summer for trainer Christopher Davis, who has won 10 races from 40 starters at Arlington Park. The second-year trainer looks to transfer that success to Saratoga – and hopes to win his first career stakes – when he sends out Moonlit Garden in Sunday’s $100,000 Summer Colony Stakes.
The Summer Colony, at 1 1/8 miles for fillies and mares who have not won a graded stakes in 2018, drew only a field of five and not all are certain to run. Nomorerichblondes, winner of the 2017 UAE Oaks in Dubai, hasn’t run in nearly 17 months and could await an allowance race at Monmouth Park next weekend, according to trainer Arnaud Delacour.
Moonlit Garden, a daughter of Malibu Moon, has two wins and a second in her last three dirt starts, all around two turns. Most recently, she was beaten three-quarters of a length by Divine Miss Grey in the Lady’s Secret Stakes at Monmouth. Moonlit Garden made the lead in midstretch but got outfinished.
“I think those horses got heads up, they were kind of leaning on each other,” said Davis, a former assistant to Phil D’Amato. “They ran hard. It was just a good horse race.”
Davis is encouraged by the fact Moonlit Garden finished 9 1/2 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher.
Awestruck looks like the major threat to Moonlit Garden. A 4-year-old daughter of Tapit, Awestruck is coming off a second-place finish to Pinch Hit in the Mari Hulman George Stakes going 1 1/16 miles at Indiana Grand on July 14. Awestruck got away with an easy lead, then battled back when Pinch Hit came to her in the stretch. She gave way grudgingly, losing by three-quarters of a length while finishing 3 1/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field.
“There’s a question of whether she wants the mile and an eighth,” trainer Rusty Arnold said. “It was either go seven-eighths in a Grade 1″ — in the Ballerina Aug. 25 — “or a mile and an eighth in an ungraded race with a small field.”
Awestruck figures to be on the lead breaking from the rail under Irad Ortiz Jr.
A Place to Shine, second in the Serena’s Song Stakes on May 12 in her only start of this year, and Forever Liesl, a recent allowance winner at Laurel, complete the field.
Moonlit Garden, by Malibu Moon
Last 3 Beyers: 93-72-85
◗ After losing her first 11 starts, she is 2-1-0 in her last four starts, with the only off-the-board performance a seventh in the Grade 3 Matron, run over Arlington’s synthetic surface.
“She’s been a later-maturing filly mentally,” Davis said. “She’s learning how to be a racehorse. You see that in her form. She’s gotten significantly better.”
◗ Jose Ortiz, aboard Moonlit Garden for an allowance win in April at Keeneland, is back aboard on Sunday.
Awestruck, by Tapit
Last 3 Beyers: 84-83-89
◗ Began the year with a pair of allowance wins going one turn in Kentucky.
◗ She stretched out and finished fourth behind winner Blue Prize in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on June 16.
This story originally appeared on DRF.com.
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