05/20/2017 8:39PM

Ransom the Moon captures Kona Gold in stakes debut

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Benoit & Associates
Ransom the Moon, with leading rider Flavien Prat aboard, closes from sixth to win the Grade 2 Kona Gold by 2 1/4 lengths.

ARCADIA, Calif. - Ransom the Moon has found a new career path as a California sprinter.

After modest form in optional claimers and allowance races around two turns on turf and the all-weather surface at Woodbine in recent years, Ransom the Moon won his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Kona Gold Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Ridden by leading rider Flavien Prat, Ransom the Moon ($9.80) closed from sixth in a field of eight to win the $201,035 race at 6 1/2 furlongs by a convincing 2 1/4 lengths. Prat guided Ransom the Move five-wide on the turn and in early stretch to reach the front before the eighth pole.

“He couldn’t have had it any better,” trainer Phil D’Amato said. “Flavien said he had so much horse.”

Ransom the Moon was timed in 1:15.12.

Moe Candy finished second after disputing the early pace of 22.34 seconds for the opening quarter-mile and 44.90 for a half-mile. Lord Simba, the 8-5 favorite, was third, followed by Kobe’s Back, Calculator, Eastwood, Kentuckian, and Touched by Autism.

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Lord Simba won the Grade 3 Los Angeles Stakes in his stakes debut on April 15. He was as close as second on the turn, but could not keep pace in the final furlong and was beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

Ransom the Moon, a 5-year-old horse by Malibu Moon, has won 4 of 17 starts and earned $290,829. He was bought privately over the winter by Agave Racing Stable and Jeffry Wilke, and is unbeaten in two starts in California.

Ransom the Moon won his debut in California, and first start for D’Amato, in an optional claimer at 6 1/2 furlongs on April 30. Ransom the Moon will be considered for stakes in July – the Grade 2 San Carlos Stakes at seven furlongs here on July 1 or the Grade 1 Bing Crosby Stakes at six furlongs at Del Mar on July 29.