07/22/2012 9:12PM

Del Mar: Eden's Moon takes to turf in a big way in San Clemente

Benoit & Associates
Eden's Moon and Rafael Bejarano lead all the way to win the Grade 2 San Clemente.

DEL MAR, Calif. – When trainer Bob Baffert arrived here at Del Mar with Eden’s Moon, he wasn’t sure where she would run. All the major races for 3-year-old fillies at this meet are on the turf, so last Monday, he gave Eden’s Moon a test drive over the course. She worked so well that Baffert decided to run her on Sunday in the Grade 2, $150,000 San Clemente Handicap, and Eden’s Moon ran back to that work, leading from start to finish in the one-mile grass race.

With jockey Rafael Bejarano aboard, Eden’s Moon set fractions of 23 seconds, 47.09, and 1:11.24 before storming through the final quarter-mile in 23.14 seconds to complete one mile on firm turf in 1:34.38. She prevailed by 1 1/4 lengths over 27-1 shot Open Water, with Indigo River another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.

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Eden’s Moon carried top weight of 121 pounds, and conceded from 3 to 7 pounds to her rivals.

Eden’s Moon ($3.80), the favorite based on her main-track record and reports of her strong grass work, has now won three times in seven starts, and her victory makes her a prime contender for next month’s Grade 1 Del Mar Oaks, which could mean a showdown with American Oaks winner Lady of Shamrock.

“I didn’t know what to do when I got down here,” Baffert said in the winner’s circle. “But she worked so well on the turf the other day. Her pedigree on the bottom side screams turf. She likes it tighter. Now we have options.”

Eden’s Moon, a daughter of Malibu Moon out of a Giant’s Causeway mare, is owned by Kaleem Shah. Earlier this year, Eden’s Moon won the Grade 1 Las Virgenes Stakes at Santa Anita. Most recently, she was beaten a nose in the Hollywood Oaks.

“We can run in the Oaks here,” Baffert said. “We’ll definitely think about that. Maybe run here, then go to the Cotillion at Parx.”