Starspangledbanner Filly Strikes Late For Grade 1 Glory
Tuesday saw the progressive Rhea Moon (3f Starspangledbanner - Callisto Star, by Fastnet Rock) overcome trouble in running to gain her first Grade 1 victory in the American Oaks at Santa Anita.
The daughter of Starspangledbanner was purchased privately to join the Phil D’Amato yard after placing on both her starts for Ken Condon, including when finishing second in a Curragh maiden won by subsequent Stakes winner Straight Answer.
A Grade 3 winner last time out, she stepped up to ten furlongs for the first time on Tuesday and was ridden patiently by Juan Hernandez. The bay became short of room twice and faced a wall of horses with two furlongs left to race, forcing her to angle out. Running on well under pressure, she led in the final strides to win by a head.
Speaking after the race, Hernandez said, “Around the quarter pole, I came out and put my filly in the clear and she kicked home really fast. She’s been improving in every race when she’s winning. Today, the distance was not a problem.”
Victory in the $303,000 contest marked a third consecutive win for Rhea Moon, who is owned by Tall Racing and Rockingham Ranch. The daughter of Starspangledbanner was bred by Kevin Molloy out of Callisto Star (Fastnet Rock), whose yearling colt by Magna Grecia fetched €145,000 at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale.