It may not be Seabiscuit vs. War Admiral, but Ask the Moon vs. Blind Luck offers a similarly contrasting story line.
It unfolds Saturday in the Grade I Lady’s Secret Stakes, when overnight sensation East Coast invader Ask the Moon takes on 2010 three-year-old filly champion Blind Luck in one of four Grade I stakes races at Santa Anita that day.
Five Grade I stakes races with major Breeders’ Cup implications highlight the first weekend: on Saturday, the $250,000 Norfolk Stakes for 2-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles; the $250,000 Goodwood Stakes for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/8 miles; the $250,000 Yellow Ribbon Stakes presented by Emirates Airline for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/4 miles on turf; and the $250,000 Lady’s Secret Stakes for fillies and mares, 3 years old and up at 1 1/16 miles.
Each of those events is a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. The nominated winner will be entitled to automatic entry into the corresponding Breeders’ Cup race at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4 and 5.
The Grade I, $250,000 Oak Leaf Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on Sunday also is a “Win and You’re In” Challenge Race. The Grade II, $150,000 Clement L. Hirsch Turf Championship for 3-year-olds and up at 1 1/4 miles complements the Oak Leaf on Sunday.
Patience paid off for Marty Wolfson and Farnsworth Stables, who have had Ask the Moon for only the last three of her 32 career races. The 60-year-old trainer and Farnsworth Stables were in the market for a mare by top sire Malibu Moon for some time before they hit the Mother Lode in Ask the Moon.
The 6-year-old Maryland-bred mare was claimed for $75,000 on June 15 at Belmont Park. She ran third in her first race after that, the $60,000 Sky Beauty at Belmont on July 1, then pulled off a shocker by winning the Grade I Ruffian Handicap by nearly six lengths at 18-1 on July 31.
To prove it was no fluke, Ask the Moon came back on Sept. 3 to win the Grade I Personal Ensign by nearly three lengths. Next up: the Lady’s Secret and a showdown with Blind Luck, in what could lead to the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic at Churchill Downs on Nov. 4.
“We’d been after a Malibu Moon mare to claim or buy for the last year,” said Wolfson, the son of the late Louis Wolfson, whose Harbor View Farm owned Affirmed, the last Triple Crown winner in 1978. “We’d been waiting for an opportunity and it finally came along.”
Ask the Moon’s forte has always been speed, but since the claim, and unlike some of her other races, she’s been able to carry it to victory in two prestigious stakes.
Ask the Moon has 10 wins, five seconds and seven thirds for earnings of $713,640. “She goes fast and she goes long and keeps going,” Wolfson said. “That’s pretty rare, but it’s a good thing about my mare.”
In 2006, Wolfson earned the most important victory of his career when Miesque’s Approval captured the Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Ask the Moon left for California Sunday from Florida, escaping the Sunshine State just in time to avoid East Coast rains. “I’m glad we got out,” Wolfson said.
Ask the Moon worked four furlongs at Santa Anita Tuesday in :49.40.
The field for the Lady’s Secret, the sixth race on an 11-race card that starts at 1 p.m.: Blind Luck, Garrett Gomez, 124; Champagne d’Oro, Joe Talamo, 119; Ask the Moon, Martin Garcia, 124; Love Theway Youare, Christian Santiago Reyes, 116; Great Hot, Chantal Sutherland, 116; Ultra Blend, David Flores, 124; and Zazu, Joel Rosario, 118.