Moon Over Miami launched his bid off the far turn and finished fastest of all to win Thursday’s $750,000 Dueling Grounds Derby, earning his first stakes triumph with a half-length decision. The Summer Wind Farm homebred son of Malibu Moon drew in from the also-eligible list for trainer Bill Mott and jockey Javier Castellano, turning the 1 5/16-mile distance over firm turf in 2:06.71, and Moon Over Miami left the starting gate as the 7-1 fifth choice among 12 3-year-olds.
A rallying fourth in the July 18 National Museum Hall of Fame (G2) at Saratoga, Moon Over Miami captured an entry-level turf allowance at Churchill Downs two starts previously and broke his maiden over the main track at Aqueduct last December. His career line now reads 9-3-0-0, with $540,152 in earnings.
Big Dreaming, a 24-outsider following a maiden win at Churchill and an entry-level allowance victory at Arlington, set the pace on a clear lead through :24.39, :48.68, and 1:12.26 fractions. Moon Over Miami rated well back in ninth early, began to advance while wide on the far turn, and surged determinedly through the stretch, running down the pacesetter in the latter stages to prove best.
Big Dreaming held second by 3 3/4 lengths, with 9-2 second choice Shamrocket getting up for third. The latter was clear of fourth-placer Peace Achieved, who was followed by Kid Mercury, Kinenos, 4-1 favorite Bama Breeze, Angelus Warrior, Natural Power, Summer Assault, Jolting Joe, and Dynadrive.
A Kentucky-bred bay colt, Moon Over Miami is the first foal to race out of Grade 3 runner-up Zinzay, a daughter of Smart Strike. This is the female family of multiple Grade 1 winner and millionaire Music Note, and recent Jim Dandy (G2) victor Mystic Guide.
In the $500,000 Dueling Grounds Oaks, Micheline ran down 11-10 favorite Harvey’s Lil Goil in the final strides to post a neck tally. A Godolphin homebred daughter of Bernardini, the Michael Stidham-trained sophomore filly notched her third stakes victory. Joel Rosario was up on the 10-1 fourth choice, and Micheline completed the 1 5/16-mile distance in 2:06.41.
Winner of the May 2 Honey Ryder S. at Gulfstream Park three starts previously, Micheline was exiting a closing fourth in the Aug. 28 Lake George (G2) at Saratoga. The bay filly came back from a 13-day rest to win in late-running fashion, rallying from about five lengths back in eight during the opening stages. She began to advance nearing the conclusion of the far turn, and Micheline made up several lengths in the stretch to prevail.
Honey’s Lil Goil, who surged to a clear lead in upper stretch after closely pressing the pace, easily held second by a length, with Luck Money getting up for third at 29-1. Stunning Sky, the 7-2 second choice, came next in fourth, and Stand Tall, Ask Bailey, How Ironic, Sursum Corda, Carpe Vinum, Lucky Polly, and Embossed completed the order.
Bred in Kentucky, Micheline is the first stakes winner out of the multiple Grade 1-winning Include mare Panty Raid, who earned more than $1 million. Panty Raid is a full-sister to Grade 2 scorer St. John’s River, runner-up in the 2011 Kentucky Oaks (G1).
Micheline, who earned her first win in the 2019 Sorority S. at Monmouth Park and finished a close second in the Sweetest Chant (G3) at Gulfstream earlier this year, has now earned $415,978 from a 11-4-1-1 record.