Racing & Wagering

Barn Notes: Saturday, August 18, 2018

| Churchill Downs Communications | 08/18/2018 #
  • Chris Davis (Coady Photography)


It has been a highly successful year for trainer Chris Davis. Such success could take on a whole new level on Sunday, when Davis saddles Moonlit Garden in the $100,000 Summer Colony Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.

Much of Davis’ success has taken place at Arlington International Racecourse, where he has won at a 25% rate, but a stakes win during Saratoga’s prestigious summer meet would mean a great deal.

“It would put us on more of a national level; a lot of people watch Saratoga,” Davis said by phone from Saratoga. “People really dial into Del Mar and Saratoga this time of year. Those circuits are tough and competitive so if you can knock off a stake win there it’s huge. When they raised purses in Chicago, it was one of the reasons we went back. No denying it’s been a great summer. I have to thank my client for letting me go to Arlington and running the horses where they can win.”

Moonlit Garden is owned by Town and Country Racing, who encouraged Davis to go out on his own just two years ago. Lately, Davis has done some travelling with the 4-year-old daughter of Malibu Moon and took her to Monmouth Park for her last outing where she was narrowly beaten by Devine Miss Grey in the Lady’s Secret Stakes on June 30. Should Moonlit Garden get the job done on Sunday, she would give Davis his first stakes victory as a trainer.

“To get my first stake win for Town and Country would mean the world to me, especially at Saratoga,” Davis said. “We’ve had a good summer together at Arlington. It would be fun; they have horses up here (at Saratoga) with other trainers. They aren’t scared of having horses in competitive spots.

“[Moonlight Garden] came out of her last start pretty good and is coming into this race just as good,” Davis continued. “I like the mile and an eighth. It’s a short field but there are some salty fillies and mares in there. We’ll just see what happens with the pace scenario. She can be up close or sit further back.”

Her first career victory was a longtime coming for Moonlit Garden, who did not break her maiden until her 12th career start, which took place at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots on March 17 going one mile and 70 yards. She defeated winners in her next start at Keeneland Racecourse on April 20 going 1 1/16 miles over the main track.

“Once she knocked off that first win, a light bulb went off in her head,” Davis said. “We got ambitious and tried her in the Grade III (Arlington Matron), but she didn’t handle the Poly as well so we moved her to the dirt. She’s one of those horses that if you look at her family, they all didn’t get good until four. She’s really been a physically big horse from a young age. She’s run solid on the grass and she’ll run on anything, but it seems like she’s a little better on the dirt. She’s really maturing the right way mentally; she’s always been a good training horse. All the pieces are coming are together.”

Moonlit Garden is out of the Roy broodmare Winter Garden who was a two-time graded stakes winner in her racing career. She also produced the likes of graded stakes winners Matterhorn and Title Contender.