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It’s a Winning Phase for Declan’s Moon

Times Staff Writer

On that September day a year ago when Samantha Siegel bought Declan’s Moon at a Maryland yearling sale, she called her father in California.

“Dad,” the younger Siegel said on the phone, “I bought a gelding.”

“You bought what?” Mace Siegel said.

“It’s all right,” Samantha said. “This is a racehorse.”

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Two races don’t add up to entry into the Racing Hall of Fame, but so far the $125,000 that Samantha Siegel paid for Declan’s Moon has been a solid investment. The undefeated Maryland-bred son of Malibu Moon and Vee Vee Star has earned $179,400, so everything else is gravy for Mace Siegel, who has been racing horses for 40 years. Victories today in the Hollywood Prevue and in the Hollywood Futurity on Dec. 18 could also lock up the Eclipse award for best 2-year-old male.

“They did everything they could -- gelding him, failing to pay the $500 to make him eligible for the Breeders’ Cup -- not to sell this horse, but Sam still liked him a lot,” Mace Siegel said.

Before the sale in Timonium, Md., Samantha Siegel asked the consigner, Bill Reightler, why the horse had been gelded.

“The breeder cuts all his horses,” Reightler said of Brice Ridgely.

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Siegel said she can’t ever remember buying a gelding before. She and her father prefer to race horses that have breeding value once they’re retired.

Trained by Ron Ellis, Declan’s Moon broke in at Del Mar on July 31 with a five-length victory. Ridden by David Flores, he paid $31.40 for $2.

Ellis raced Declan’s Moon on Sept. 8, stretching him out from 5 1/2 furlongs to seventh-eighths of a mile in the Del Mar Futurity. The undefeated Roman Ruler looked so good he was bet down to 10 cents on the dollar. Victor Espinoza, riding Declan’s Moon this time, hooked up with Roman Ruler in a punishing stretch drive. The margin was a neck, in a time of 1:21 1/5. Declan’s Moon’s Beyer speed rating of 107 is the best in the country this year for a 2-year-old.

The Siegels never really considered the $1-million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Lone Star Park on Oct. 30. They would have had to pay a penalty of $90,000 to make him eligible. Mainly, though, Ellis preferred to give the horse more time between races. “Two-year-olds shouldn’t be running 107s in September,” the trainer told the Siegels.

The Timonium sale where Declan’s Moon changed hands always has been a favorite of the Siegels. Mace Siegel bought his first horse there in 1964, and while it took that critter four years to win a race, the family has continued to return, looking for bargains. Maryland prices are much more affordable than Kentucky. At the sale that brought Declan’s Moon, 456 yearlings sold for an average price of $18,258.

In 2002 at Timonium, Samantha Siegel bought a colt for $60,000. Called Love Of Money, he won the $750,000 Pennsylvania Derby two days before Declan’s Moon’s Del Mar Futurity win.

“You can get a lot of bang for your buck at Timonium,” Siegel said.

September 2005 already is circled on her calendar.

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Trainer Steve Asmussen won two races Friday, at Hawthorne and Sunland Park, to give him 492 for the year and leave him four short of the record set by Jack Van Berg in 1976.


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