01/05/2018 12:20PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Moonshine Memories

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When it comes to the Eclipse Awards, one race does indeed have the power to make or break you. Such a scenario may end up applying to Moonshine Memories, who was voted an Eclipse Award finalist in the 2-year-old filly division.

Moonshine Memories was arguably the nation’s top 2-year-old filly going into the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies last November at Del Mar. She certainly was the most accomplished, having won two straight Grade 1 events, and as a result she was sent off the 2-1 favorite against 12 opponents. However, in no small part due to extenuating circumstances, Moonshine Memories suffered her first defeat in the Breeders’ Cup, finishing seventh.

Unfortunately for Moonshine Memories, the record shows that a loss in the Juvenile Fillies is costly. Since its inception, a stunning 29 of 33 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winners have gone on to be voted the Eclipse Award for champion 2-year-old filly. And that does not include the 2-year-old filly champion of 2013, She’s a Tiger, who finished first in the Juvenile Fillies but was disqualified and placed second for interference.

Moonshine Memories is better than her finish in the Breeders’ Cup would suggest. Moonshine Memories set a strong pace under pressure – a pace that was comparable to the ones males posted in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Breeders’ Cup Classic. More importantly, she set that pace on the inside, a part of the Del Mar main track which was definitely not the place to be on Breeders’ Cup Friday and Saturday.

Moonshine Memories squeezed a lot in through the six-week window between her successful racing debut at Del Mar in late August and her much-the-best victory in the Grade 1 Chandelier Stakes at Santa Anita in her final Breeders’ Cup prep. “It’s amazing how far she’s come, really,” trainer Simon Callaghan told Daily Racing Form at the time.

Moonshine Memories came back only two weeks after her debut and gamely prevailed in the Grade 1 Del Mar Debutante.

“We were actually looking for any small excuse not to run her back,” Callaghan said after that score. But Moonshine Memories never gave her connections so much as a whiff of an excuse to not run in that event, or in the Chandelier, a race that was also not on her original itinerary. That’s class.

Moonshine Memories, by Malibu Moon and from the Unbridled’s Song mare Unenchantedevening, who is a half-sister to 1997 Horse of the Year Favorite Trick, is owned by John Malone’s Bridlewood Farm and the Coolmore partnership of Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor, and Susan Magnier. She was purchased for $650,000 at the 2016 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling sale. She was bred in Kentucky by the Summer Wind Farm of Jane Lyons.