By Karen M. Johnson
Giant Moon kept his undefeated record intact by winning the $81,525 Count Fleet Stakes(VIDEO) by a neck over Spanky Fischbein at Aqueduct Jan. 5.
It was the fourth win for Giant Moon, a New York-bred 3-year-old son of Giant's Causeway , who was racing in open company for the first time in the Count Fleet for trainer Richard Schosberg.
Owned by his breeder, Albert Fried Jr., Giant Moon needed just about every inch of the stretch to reel in Spanky Fischbein, who set the pace through comfortable fractions of :24.04, :48.30, and 1:12.11 in the mile and 70-yard race.
Giant Moon, who broke from the outside post (7) under Ramon Dominguez, stalked Spanky Fischbein in second position down the backstretch. The winner mounted a serious rally from the outside of Spanky Fischbein at the quarter pole. Dominguez kept extremely busy on Giant Moon, with his hands and whip, down the length of the stretch.
“It wasn’t as physically demanding as the Damon Runyon, but it was still tough,” Dominguez said in reference to Giant Moon’s win in the restricted stakes at Aqueduct Dec. 9. “He’s very unique; as big as he is, he does as little as he has to. He is very responsive, though, when you ask him to go. He’ll give you one big stride and then turn himself off.”
Giant Moon returned $7.50 as the co-second choice with Barrier Reef in the seven-horse field. The winner completed the distance in 1:41.14 over a fast track. The exacta, with Spanky Fischbein, returned $25.40.
Roman Emperor, the 2-1 favorite, finished third, 3 ¼ lengths behind Spanky Fischbein. Barrier Reef, Atta Boy Andy, Run With Me, and Red Reef completed the order of finish.
Schosberg said he is pleased with the mental progression Giant Moon, who carried 120 pounds as the Count Fleet highweight, has shown as he becomes more seasoned.
“He had to step it up mentally today,” Schosberg said. “He was giving away weight and had a bad post position. (Dominguez) said that this horse is very unique because he feels like he’s falling asleep on you down the backside. But once he gets a little tap, he’ll just take off on you. He does that in the mornings, too, which isn’t a bad thing. But we want to get it under control.”
Schosberg said the Feb. 2 Whirlaway Stakes is a possibility for Giant Moon’s next start, or he might wait for the March 8 Gotham Stakes (gr.III).
“I don’t want to knock him out in February and March if we have a shot of (being at the Kentucky Derby) in May,” Schosberg said. “Then is when you want to peak.”
With his win in the Count Fleet, Giant Moon’s earnings reached $184,785.