`Moonshine' surges in Miracle Wood

Stakes win keeps colt a Preakness possibility

Horse Racing

February 06, 2005|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

After Malibu Moonshine won the Miracle Wood Stakes yesterday at Laurel Park, they delayed the presentation in the winner's circle until the owner of the horse could get there. He was coming. He just needed a little extra time.

Woodrow Marriott, 90, made it into the winner's enclosure to accept the trophy for his 3-year-old colt, an early contender for the Preakness.

King T. Leatherbury, trainer of Malibu Moonshine, said the hard-fought victory in the one-mile race - the colt's fourth win in seven starts - kept him on the treadmill of races leading to the spring classics.

"It's the same old story; you take it a race at a time," Leatherbury said. "This was probably his biggest race. But it remains to be seen whether he's good enough for the Preakness."

Leatherbury said he'd give the colt every chance to prove he is. He said he'd keep him in distance races for 3-year-olds, preferably in Maryland.

Although this was Leatherbury's 6,059th winner, it was his first stakes win in Maryland since Maryland Million day in 2001.

"I haven't had any good horses lately," Leatherbury said. "I'm thankful to Mr. Marriott for having some quality horses."

Marriott, who lives in Washington, is the last surviving member of the family that started the Marriott hotel chain. He has owned horses for four decades, he said.

Catatonic was his best horse. She won four stakes in 1987, including the Grade I Hempstead Handicap at Belmont Park. Leatherbury trained her.

Marriott had to sit on a bench on the track apron after the winner's circle festivities. They'd worn him out. He said he hadn't been feeling well, but that he'd wanted to come watch Malibu Moonshine try to win his first significant stakes. He won a stakes the day after Christmas at Charles Town.

"I wobbled over here," Marriott said. "I prayed over it. The Lord takes care of me pretty good."

Steve Hamilton, Malibu Moonshine's jockey, does, too. After racing along the rail in eighth with no opening in sight, Hamilton swung the colt extremely wide turning for home and charged past horses.

He overtook Legal Control, the 9-5 favorite, with ease. Malibu Moonshine, the 2-1 second choice, paid $6.80 to win. He completed the mile in 1 minute, 40.25 seconds.

Hamilton said Malibu Moonshine had plenty left in the tank.

"This wasn't his best race," Hamilton said. "There's more there."

A Florida-bred, Malibu Moonshine is a son of Malibu Moon, who stood his first four years at stud at Country Life Farm near Bel Air before moving to Kentucky. He's one of the hottest young stallions in the country.

His son Declan's Moon won the Eclipse Award as last year's top 2-year-old male. Declan's Moon hasn't lost in four races and is a leading candidate for the Kentucky Derby.

NOTES. The Fasig-Tipton Midlantic winter mixed auction of thoroughbreds will take place tomorrow at the Timonium fairgrounds. The first of 201 catalogued horses will step into the ring at 10 a.m. ... Maryland-bred Devil's Bag, champion 2-year-old male in 1983, was euthanized Thursday after a stall accident at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky. He was 24.

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