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Danzig Moon, Mr. Z. both sired by Malibu Moon, with Harford County ties

The 2015 Preakness field of 8 horses is set and all are trying to complete for the second leg of the Triple Crown. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)

Without the benefit of technology, it would be a full-time job for Mike Pons to keep track of all the foals by Malibu Moon.

His Country Life Farm now owns only a quarter of the prodigious stallion, and it's been nearly a dozen years since he stood at their Harford County farm.

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But the task of keeping track of those bloodlines will be easier in Saturday's 140th Preakness, with Danzig Moon and Mr. Z — both sired by Malibu Moon — representing a quarter of the race's eight-horse field.

"We have computer printouts that read whenever the babies are running," Pons said. "It's a pretty amazing career he's had.

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"He would have been the biggest stallion on the East Coast, but he's too big for the East Coast. He's got the rare ingredients of being very well bred, tremendous racing potential, and a billionaire who bred him and supported him. All of it has followed him. He's a rock star on a big tour. Everyone's buying tickets to the show."

Two years ago, Kentucky Derby winner Orb brought attention to Pons, his brother Josh, and Country Life Farm, as the top 3-year-old in his class came to Preakness in search of a Triple Crown. Orb, who was sired by Malibu Moon, won the Kentucky Derby in 2013, but finished fourth in the Preakness.

The Pons' brother's story — which included buying a stallion with a screw in his knee as a $3,000 stud, having him stand in Maryland from 1999-2003, then selling part of his interest to a Kentucky breeder who based him there — made waves locally.

When Orb ran the Triple Crown, Malibu Moon's stud fee was $70,000. Two years later, after Mr. Z and Danzig Moon both raced in the Kentucky Derby and are vying for the second jewel of the Triple Crown, that figure has grown to $90,000.

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"[He's] somebody who came through here and lit it all up," Pons said. "You think you've seen things, then that comes by and you scratch your head and wonder, 'What game had I been playing?'

"It's like gold dust sprinkled on everything that he touches."

Mark Casse has trained several of Malibu Moon's progeny, including Prospective and Conquest Eclipse, and has Danzig Moon running Saturday. He says he's one of his favorite sires.

Danzig Moon, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, broke his maiden at Gulfstream Park in February and placed in the Grade 1 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes in April.

"The [Malibu Moon horses] I've seen get better as they get older, and I think you see that in Danzig Moon," Casse said. "I think he's continuing to improve. We're hoping he improves again from the Derby to the Preakness."

Mr. Z, purchased by Calumet Farms and entered into the Preakness on Wednesday by trainer D. Wayne Lukas, will be running his 14th career race, with his maiden coming at Churchill Downs in June 2014. He finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby.

Lukas said early returns from the second generation of Malibu Moon horses helped make his push to buy Mr. Z and enter him into the Preakness worthwhile.

"From a sales standpoint, [Mr. Z owner] Calumet Farm is very, very interested in the pedigree," Lukas said. "Malibu Moon is stamping himself as a sire of sires. That's so important. You have to have that. If we were just trying to win the Preakness ... and we didn't have a prominent sire on a Storm Cat mare, this deal would have never happened.

"You always look at sires and say, 'Can they produce that bloodline with some persistency down the line?' He looks like he's doing that."

In Kentucky, Orb has begun on his first crop of foals, Pons said. Here in Maryland, another Malibu Moon horse, Freedom Child, has his first crop at Country Life Farm now.

"He's been very popular here, and I think it's going to be exciting," Pons said.

Because of the success of that second generation, breeders from all over the world want a piece of Malibu Moon, Pons said. But his partial owners in Fallston are keeping his bloodlines in Maryland, too.

"We have seasons that we sell to East Coast breeders, where we want to stay plugged in," Pons said. "It's very valuable that he gets into all the different markets, not just New York and Los Angeles, but Maryland, Pennsylvania, this area here. There are a lot of racetracks within three hours of Country Life. Around here, they love him. They already know who he is."

Twitter.com/JonMeoli

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