OZONE PARK, N.Y. (NYRA press release) – Breeder Christina Deronda of Moonstar Farm is riding high with multiple graded stakes-winning New York-bred City Man, who strives for his first Grade 1 score in Saturday’s $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
Located in Pawling, New York, Moonstar Farm is operated by Deronda alongside her mother Patricia Calandro, who was the former stallion manager at Sugar Maple Farm, and sister Angela Colyard. The farm currently owns only two broodmares, including City Man’s mother, City Scamper, who is by City Zip. Their other broodmare is Raffie’s Chance, a daughter of Raffie’s Majesty who produced dual stakes-winner Laobanonaprayer.
Owned by Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Peter Searles and Patty Searles, City Man boasts a 26-9-5-3 record with earnings of $987,120. The 6-year-old son of Mucho Macho Man has won a stakes race every year since his juvenile season, starting with a 4 3/4-length romp against fellow state-breds in the 2019 Funny Cide at Saratoga Race Course. But last year proved to be a banner year for City Man as he captured 5 of 8 starts, including three straight victories heading into the Pegasus World Cup Turf.
Following wins against state-breds in the Ashley T. Cole on September 24 and the Mohawk on October 30 – both at Belmont at the Big A – he secured his second graded stakes coup last out in the Grade 2 Fort Lauderdale on December 31 at Gulfstream.
He commenced last season with a triumph in the open-company Danger’s Hour on April 9 at Aqueduct Racetrack, three starts before earning a career-best 104 Beyer Speed Figure with a 2 3/4-length victory in the Grade 3 Forbidden Apple on July 15 at Saratoga for trainer Christophe Clement.
A self-proclaimed “backyard breeder,” Deronda said she takes a strong sense of pride in owning a pound-for-pound strong broodmare band.
“Some bigger breeders haven’t had as much luck as we have had for what we have. We only have a couple of mares and we’re a small operation, so to have an outstanding horse like him is not easy for a small breeder. We’re just very proud of him,” Deronda said. “My mom actually picked Mucho Macho Man for City Scamper. We’ve all been so astounded. We live in a small town, so the whole town is excited for us. We’re excited for Christophe, the Reeves and of course for City Man himself. Every year, he grows to be a bigger, stronger and better horse. Last year, he did so well.”
In the Fort Lauderdale, City Man maintained rail-riding position down the backstretch in third under Joel Rosario to the inside of multiple Grade 1-winner Colonel Liam. Saving ground around the far turn, City Man found a seam along the rail and powered through to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Grade 1-winning stablemate Decorated Invader.
“It was an amazing run for him and an amazing ride by Joel Rosario. He did an amazing job on him,” Deronda said. “As he gets older, he seems to have a good focus and has figured it out for himself. I was shocked he got through that small hole because he’s such a big horse. That was all he needed. He looked forward and never looked back. For us, it’s been an exciting ride. He just gets better and more relaxed and professional every time he runs.”
Rosario retains the mount Saturday from the outermost post 12 aboard City Man, who Deronda said was an affectionate foal with a lot of personality.
“We had three or four broodmares at the time. He was the first one up to the fence that wanted to be petted and played with. He was always a very easy-going foal,” Deronda recalled. “He was smart and he was easy to handle. He was a little bit on the gawky side because he was going to get so big. He was more leg than chest, but of course he grew into himself. He was a great foal with a very good personality.”
City Man impressed his breeders even more as he grew into his frame. He brought $20,000 as a weanling at the 2017 Saratoga Fall Mixed Sale, where he was purchased by the Off The Hook pinhooking venture and was then sold for $185,000 at the 2019 OBS Spring Sale of 2-Year-Olds in Training. He did not disappoint during his two-year-old year, beginning his career with two open-lengths scores at Saratoga, including a three-length graduation in July 2019 en route to his prominent Funny Cide score.
“We watched him in the under-tack show and we were amazed at how well he looked and how well he did,” Deronda recalled. “Then we saw him run as a two-year-old at Saratoga and that was very exciting. We were there for all his races his two-year-old year. He did well that year with still plenty of growing to do.”
Deronda said having a small operation is beneficial for the resulting foals.
“The good part about being small breeders is that our foals get handled a lot. We do a lot with them. They get a lot of one-on-one time,” Deronda said. “We have kids and grandkids and they’re always fussing over them, so they get a lot of attention, which I think helps in their focus later on. They feel less threatened.”
Fans of City Man can look forward to seeing his 2-year-old full-sister, Miss City Girl, make her anticipated debut sometime this year. Miss City Girl was bought by owners Dean and Patti Reeves right off the farm.
“Every time I talk to Mr. Reeves he just raves about her. She’s smart and big and a lot like City Man, so I wish him luck with her as well,” Deronda said. “She didn’t have to go through the sale. It was nice for her because she remained in that relaxed environment. I’m sure that helped. She went from our farm to his partner’s farm in Florida, where she was turned out, grew up and went through training. She was actually very settled for a very long time before she had to start working. I think that helped her mental state.”
Deronda spoke volumes of the New York breeding program.
“The breeders awards are great in New York, which is nice, it keeps us going a bit. Just to be able to go and watch our horses race is nice since we’re here in New York. We go down to Belmont and Aqueduct as well. It’s just a whole lot of fun,” Deronda said. “The program is great and the breeders around here are great people. We’re friends and we all stick together. It’s nice when you’re going to Saratoga and going to the sale and you know everyone. It’s good camaraderie for everybody.”
Deronda offered words of encouragement for her fellow small breeders, citing Maryland-bred Knicks Go – the 2021 Horse of the Year and Champion Older Dirt Male – by way of example.
“Don’t stop trying. Just look at Knicks Go and his breeder [Angie Moore] and what they ended up doing and look where his career went,” she said. “You never know what you’re going to get, so enjoy it. Sometimes, it’s hit or miss with horses. You could have the two best bloodlines and produce nothing or go with your gut and produce something like we did. We loved Mucho Macho Man and it was a good cross with City Scamper and he ended up being a great horse. We’ve had a lot that didn’t make it and then we’ve had these guys that have done well.”
Deronda will have to plenty to cheer for when she makes her maiden voyage to Gulfstream on Saturday.
“We couldn’t be prouder. This is a big to-do for us, so my mother and I will be down there for the race. It means a lot to us,” Deronda said.