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Ask the Moon All the Way in Ruffian

Jockey Javier Castellano put the finishing touches on a winning weekend at Saratoga Race Course on Sunday afternoon, piloting 18-1 longshot Ask the Moon to a front-running victory in the Grade 1, $250,000 Ruffian Invitational Handicap, the rider’s third graded stakes win in just over 24 hours.

 

Castellano, who swept the Spa’s Saturday stakes with Stay Thirsty in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy and Zagora in the Grade 1 Diana, put Ask the Moon in front coming out of the gate and led the field of seven fillies and mares through an opening quarter-mile in 23.61 and a half in 46.92. As Super Espresso, favored Payton d’Oro and Tiz Miz Sue began to mount their bids behind her on the turn, the 6-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon opened up through the lane, hitting the wire 5 ¾ lengths clear for her first Grade 1 victory.

 

Her winning time for the 1 1/8 miles was 1:50.46.

 

“It was a pretty decent pace, but the way she did it, on the lead, she was doing it so easily,” said Castellano, a replacement for Luis Saez, who did not ride at Saratoga Sunday. “She got a little tired at the end but she gave me a good race and was strong. The weekend couldn’t have been better!”

 

The win, coming six weeks after she was claimed for $75,000 by Farnsworth Stable, also gave Ask the Moon an automatic berth in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic as the second “Win and You’re In” race this year in the division. Blind Luck was the first to qualify following her dramatic victory over Havre de Grace in the Grade 1 Delaware Handicap on July 16.

 

“She’s a beautiful mare, that’s why I claimed her,” said winning trainer Marty Wolfson by telephone from Monmouth Park . “That, and the Malibu Moon.

 

“I loved that there was less speed in the race,” he added. “I told Javier sometimes when you go to the lead, they’ll back off and leave you alone. When they backed off on us, and left us alone, that was exactly what I wanted.”

 

Ask the Moon, coming off a third-place finish in the Sky Beauty Stakes at Belmont Park on July 1 in her first start for her new owner, earned $150,000 for the win, her ninth from 31 lifetime starts. As the longest shot on the board, she returned $38.00 for a $2 win bet to her backers in the crowd of 40,974.

 

Super Espresso finished second, a neck ahead of Tiz Miz Sue, who was subsequently disqualified to fourth for interfering with favored Payton D’Oro in the stretch.

 

“It was a tight run,” said Gabriel Saez, aboard the beaten favorite, who was placed third. “With a better run, we could have at least gotten second.”

 

Completing the order of finish were Distorted Legacy, Absinthe Minded, and Dynazaper.

 

Wolfson said the next start for Ask the Moon could be the Grade 1, $300,000 Personal Ensign Invitational on Sunday, August 28.

 

“I came up here two years ago to win the Personal Ensign with Icon Project,” he said. “I’d like to do it again.”

 

 

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