Previously graded stakes-placed Stanford posted a 1 ¼-length victory in the $100,000 Long Branch S. at Monmouth Park on Saturday, setting the 3-year-old colt up for a possible run in the $1 million Haskell Inv. (G1) on Aug. 2, a race that will also include Triple Crown winner American Pharoah.
After finishing second by a neck in the Louisiana Derby (G2), the Malibu Moon colt was seriously considered for the Kentucky Derby, but trainer Todd Pletcher decided to pass on that race. After another good second in the Easy Goer S. on Belmont S. day at that track, the Long Branch was his goal.
Early on, jockey Joe Bravo let Souper Collosal have the lead, staying a couple of lengths off the pace in second. When Bravo called on him, Stanford ranged up three wide at the head of the stretch and zipped to the front, coming home a comfortable winner in 1:44.31 for the 1 1/16-miles.
“He is a really classy horse,” said Bravo. “They were going an honest pace up front. I asked him to go a little bit before the quarter pole to just get him going and he answered really nicely. If he comes back for the Haskell, the good thing is that we know he likes the course.”
Trained by Todd Pletcher for Stonestreet Stables, Magnier, Tabor and Smith, Stanford upped his record to 3-2-0 in seven starts and has earned $289,400. Bred by WinStar Farm, the colt hails from the same family as 2001 Juvenile champion colt Johannesburg and Tale of the Cat.
A stalwart in the top 10 on the General Sire list, Malibu Moon is once again in familiar territory in 2015 with eight stakes winners, three of them graded winners, and is closing in on the $5 million mark in progeny earnings.