(Ghostzapper x Danceinthesunlight, by A.P. Indy)
- Trainer: Eric Guillot
- Jockey: Joe Talamo
- Owned by: Southern Equine Stable
- Career Record: 14:2-5-2
- Earnings: $669,440
- 2013 Record: 11:2-5-1
- 2013 accomplishments: G1-placed (2nd, Travers Stakes), G2 winner (Dwyer Stakes)
- Santa Anita record: 5:0-2-0
- TrueNicks rating: C Variant 0.78
- Dosage Index: 3.25
- Sire Ghostzapper won this race in 2004
- Highest Equibase Speed Figure of 2013: 114 (Unchanged from last year)
- Lost last prep (2nd in Pennsylvania Derby by 2 1/4 lengths)
- Aims to be the first 3-year-old to win the Classic since Raven’s Pass in 2008
Summary: Certainly one of my most beloved heart picks of the year and favorite three-year-old Moreno started the summer as a longshot maiden and ended it nearly winning the Midsummer Derby at Saratoga. A late bloomer, his connections have insisted that the wiry little gelding has been getting better and better each time out, and it’s not hard to see why with the results he’s been getting.
Prep Schedule: One of the most seasoned horses in the race with 11 starts, Moreno raced in maiden special weights unsuccessfully 6 times before shipping to Belmont Park on Belmont Stakes Day, where he finally broke through and won by daylight in a nice big field. Truly showing he dug the dirt, he won the Dwyer Stakes (II) a month later, coasting from wire-to-wire to win by 7 lengths. Taking a step up in class company, he set the pace next out in the Jim Dandy (II), being collared late by Palace Malice whom he fought tooth and nail and was eventually 3rd to Will Take Charge by 3 1/4 lengths. He nearly tricked the field next out in the Travers, setting an easy pace early on to just fall short in the closing strides to Will Take Charge, losing that race by a nose. He went toe-to-toe again with Will Take Charge in the Pennsylvania Derby, once again being bested in the stretch to lose by 2 1/4 lengths.
Physique: I was disappointed when I saw Moreno in person after following him around on paper and online for months beforehand, and even though he ran beyond that impression, he definitely explains to onlookers why he’s probably a gelding. He’s small and a little rangey, but is long-bodied and an easy strider.
Pedigree: One of the best of the bunch: Moreno is sired by impressive 2004 winner Ghostzapper, who himself is a son of 1998 winner and routing sire Awesome Again and out of blue hen Baby Zip. Moreno’s dam is Danceinthesunlight, an unraced daughter of super sire A.P. Indy and G1 winner Dancethruthedawn, who is a daughter of Danzig and Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Dance Smartly, who is a half sister to super sire Smart Strike. Need I go on?
Running Style: On or very near the pace
Pros: Yes he’s been improving, but possibly Moreno’s greatest weapon is his longshot status as a front runner on fast, speed-favoring dirt. He’s nearly gotten away with things before, who’s to say they might not immediately go after him and his typical slow fractions early? Add to this he is a very game horse who runs very effortlessly with a knockout classic pedigree.
Cons: He could never break his maiden at Santa Anita, so who is to say Moreno just likes running in New York like a *lot* of horses do? Will Take Charge is a questionable Classic competitor, and that horse clearly beat him in the Pennsylvania Derby. Moreno also takes a class hike as he runs against older horses for the first time.
Final Word: Prime for longshot status once again, sweet baby Moreno has some pretty stacked odds in a race full of forwardly-placed horses. If he can somehow slow things down, he has a shot to hit the board. I do not consider him a win candidate… although I will not-so-secretly be the happiest person in an American living room if he does pull it off.