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Moonshine Mullin continues ascent with Foster victory

Moonshine Mullin stretched his win streak to five in commanding fashion (Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography)

Randy Patterson's Moonshine Mullin tracked the pace to the far turn, repelled a bid from Departing entering the stretch drive, and easily proved best in Saturday's Grade 1, $552,500 Stephen Foster H., posting a 10-1 upset in the premiere event for older horses. The reformed claimer stamped his ticket for the Breeders' Cup Classic in the process, scoring by 1 3/4 lengths in the "Win and You're In" event at Churchill Downs.

Haltered for a $40,000 claiming tag in late November, the Randy Morse-trained horse has now reeled off five straight triumphs. His streak began with pair of convincing victories over claiming foes at Oaklawn Park earlier this year and Moonshine Mullin proceeded to win under allowance conditions by a 5 3/4-length margin on April 11.

The six-year-old son of Albert the Great earned his first graded stakes tally in the Grade 2 Alysheba at Churchill Downs May 2, leading wire to wire for a 6-1 upset, and the surging Kentucky-bred carried his momentum forward Saturday evening.

"It was awesome, absolutely awesome," Patterson said. "This was my first Grade 1 win, the Alysheba was my first Grade 2 win and coming down that stretch today I was just like, 'this is not supposed to happen with a claiming horse.'"

"Randy (Morse) has been doing so well with him," jockey Calvin Borel said. "The first morning I was out on him working him after the Alysheba, he didn't really work like I thought he should have. But boy its funny, when a horse peaks, they peak. When I came back and worked him again about five days ago he was a totally different horse, like he had gotten his seat back under him. I rode him with a lot of confidence today."

Will Take Charge, the 2013 champion three-year-old colt and 5-2 favorite, rallied belatedly for runner-up honors, overhauling the 3-1 Departing in the final strides. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Mylute in fourth. Golden Ticket, Revolutionary, Long River, Prayer for Relief and Jaguar Paw completed the order of finish.

Moonshine Mullin broke alertly from post 3 but conceded the early advantage to Jaguar Paw, racing close in second through opening splits of :23 4/5 and :47 4/5. Departing was about another length back in third stalking the action down the backstretch.

Moonshine Mullin advanced under no urging to take the lead rounding the final turn, passing the six-furlong mark in 1:12 2/5 with a half-length edge, but Departing was revving up a challenge on the outside. The two rivals entered the stretch side by side but any suspense was short-lived; Moonshine Mullin had more in reserve and reasserted command after straightening for home.

He passed the mile mark in 1:36 4/5 with a half-length lead and continued to widen his advantage in the final furlong. Moonshine Mullin completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49 3/5 on the fast track and paid $22 to win.

"We were stepping up today, I know we beat some of these same horses a few weeks back and early on I was afraid it may have taken too much out of him, but as we got closer, Randy had him ready to go," Borel said. "He's a nice, nice horse."

"He's a good horse and he's been training very well," Morse added. "He trained better leading up to this race than he did the race before. He drew a really good post, which meant a lot. I usually tend to be pretty conservative but when he drew the three-post with how well as he's trained the past week, I was pretty sure we were going to run him."

Bred by Dr. Russ Beran and Dick Johnson, Moonshine Mullin is out of the unraced Distant View mare Mullen Road, a half-sister to Argentinean Group 1 winner Successful Affair. This extended family includes Grade 1-winning turf performer Danger's Hour and English Group 3 winner Stonehatch.

Initially with Reade Baker in Canada, Moonshine Mullin captured his first stakes in the 2011 Victoria Park at Woodbine, and also placed in the 2010 Display and 2011 editions of the Ontario Derby and Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

Subsequently unplaced in two stakes outings for Donnie Von Hemel, Moonshine Mullin was claimed for $25,000 by Steve Asmussen last August, and won one of three races for that barn before the claim by Morse.

With Saturday's $328,848 payday, the bay horse pushed his earnings past the $1 million mark ($1,014,361). Moonshine Mullin's record now reads 32-9-4-5.

Morse was asked about upcoming plans.

"If he never wins another race, it's been a great ride," the trainer said. "But as good as he's doing, who knows? You never know, that's one thing about this sport, they come from everywhere. I'm very happy with him though."

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