Kaleem Shah’s Eden’s Moon
, considered one of the top three-year-old fillies in America until a disappointing performance in the Kentucky Oaks, revealed a new dimension to her talent Sunday as she made a grass debut a winning one with a wire-to-wire victory in the featured $150,000 San Clemente Handicap.
Sent to the gate at 4-5 under jockey Rafael Bejarano, Eden’s Moon took charge leaving the gate and never looked back in winning by 1 ¼ lengths in 1:34.38 for the mile over the infield Jimmy Durante Turf Course.
Open Water, a 27-1 longshot piloted by Victor Espinoza, rallied strongly to be a creditable runner-up, 1 ¼ lengths in front of Indigo River. Byrama, who pressed the pace early only to fade through the stretch, was fourth as the 5-2 second choice. Morocco Moon was withdrawn from the original field of three-year-old fillies.
Eden’s Moon, from the talent-laden stable of Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, is a daughter of Malibu Moon bred in Florida. She won the Grade I Las Virgenes Stakes last winter at Santa Anita, was third in the Santa Anita Oaks before venturing to Kentucky where she was 14th and last in the prestigious Kentucky Oaks.
Freshened after that race, Eden’s Moon returned to action in the Hollywood Oaks June 12 and was beaten a nose by Potesta.
Eden’s Moon, a $390,000 purchase at the 2011 Midlantic sale of two-year-olds in training, collected a purse of $90,000 Sunday to increase her career earnings to $358,600. She returned $3.80, $3.40 and $2.80. Open Water paid $14.80 and $5.80, while Indigo River paid $3.40 to show.
Baffert said after the race that Eden’s Moon, a winner of three of seven starts, now will be pointed for the $300,000 Del Mar Oaks at nine furlongs on the grass Saturday, August 18.
Bejarano also accounted for the day’s supporting feature, the $100,000 California Dreamin’ Handicap aboard Johnston and Riggio’s Norvsky, a Don Warren-trained stablemate of champion older horse Acclamation, who won the Grade I Eddie Read Stakes Saturday for the second straight year.
Norvsky, a son of Vronsky, emulated Acclamation by also making it two straight in the California Dreamin’. He charged from the off the pace under Bejarano to win by a half-length over Brushburn, with Leaving New York third.
Norvsky ran the mile and one-sixteenth on grass in 1:41.35 and paid $4.80. He earned $58,000 with his seventh win in 23 efforts and now has a bankroll of $604,444.
Jockeys Garrett Gomez and Joe Talamo each booted in three winners on the nine-race program.
Sunday’s attendance totaled 18,084.