Trainer Richard Schosberg, who has been preparing his New York-bred Giant Moon for the March 8 Gotham Stakes (gr. III) at Aqueduct, is anxious to see if the colt will continue to show an affinity for long distances as he looks toward the May 3 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Campaigned as a homebred by Albert Fried Jr., the undefeated son of Giant's Causeway has four victories to his credit, three of which were stakes, though none have been by particularly significant margins.
"It was obvious that in his first two starts, the jocks were working harder than the horse," said Schosberg during a weekly National Thoroughbred Racing Association teleconference. "Mentally, he hadn't gotten the competitive edge until the Count Fleet Stakes (at Aqueduct)."
Breaking his maiden at Belmont Park last September, Giant Moon followed with scores in the restricted Sleepy Hollow at Belmont, and Damon Runyon Stakes at Aqueduct. The colt launched his 2008 campaign with a neck victory in the Jan. 5 Count Fleet.
Schosberg said he had been impressed by Giant Moon's stretch run in the Count Fleet. "It was more professional instead of lackadaisical," he explained.
Schosberg said he also was hopeful about the amount endurance on the bottom side of Giant Moon's pedigree. Schosberg also trained Giant Moon's dam, the stakes-winning Capote mare Moonlightandbeauty.
"She was best at two turns, but an injury cut her career short," he said.
Giant Moon last worked four furlongs in :50.57 at Belmont March 4. "All we wanted him to do was stretch out his legs and open his lungs up," Schosberg explained.
Based on Giant Moon's slow early development, Schosberg didn't predict the colt would make such huge strides in his career.
"The horse had me bamboozled before he ran. He was lazy, and I didn't want to run him at Saratoga. He was well-bred and good looking, but I thought he needed more experience. His first race really opened our eyes. (Jockey) Kent Desormeaux said we hadn't gotten to the bottom of him, and his pedigree says he can go long."
Since the Count Fleet, Schosberg said Giant Moon is sharper in the mornings and is starting to enjoy training.
"He knows who he is now--I think he had an identity crisis (in the beginning)," said Schosberg, who described the colt as having "a very long stride, good shoulder, and a hind end to go with it.
"He has a good body for long distances, and possibly the grass later on," he added. "He's basically everything you want to see in a young 3-year-old."
The Gotham, which will draw later this week, is shaping up to be a field of around nine or 10 contenders.
"It's a big field, which is a big step up for us," said Schosberg. "I think it's a wide open race with a lot of horses that are improving. Hopefully, we're part of it."