Giant Moon should be a strong competitor against East Coast 3-year-olds this spring.

Giant Moon should be a strong competitor against East Coast 3-year-olds this spring.

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Giant Moon on the Rise

Giant Moon should be a strong competitor against East Coast 3-year-olds this spring.

by Alan Porter

Giant's Causeway ’s 2008 stud fee of $125,000 may be a substantial drop from 2006 — when he was advertised as standing for $300,000 — and presumably from whatever number "private" represented last year, but that decline is certainly not reflected by the recent efforts of his progeny. He ended 2007 as fourth-leading sire in the U.S. by progeny earnings, with 16 individual stakes winners (a figure surpassed by only Distorted Humor , A.P. Indy and Royal Academy) and nine group or graded scorers (behind only A.P. Indy). He’s also off to a bright start with his 2008 3-year-old crop, the first days of the season seeing Cowboy Cal take the Tropical Park Derby (gr. III) and Giant Moon capture the Count Fleet Stakes. Both of these horses are potentially on the Triple Crown trail; even though Cowboy Cal tallied on turf, trainer Todd Pletcher says that he has always worked well on dirt and  could be tried on that surface in the near future. Meanwhile, Giant Moon’s path will target the Wood Memorial Stakes (gr. I).

The Count Fleet Stakes was the first open-company test for Giant Moon, and there was a lot to like about the way he overcame the stubborn Spanky Fischbein (coincidentally, a fellow New York-bred). Giant Moon’s margins of victory haven’t been huge, and his numbers, while consistently moving forward, don’t yet match up to the leaders of his generation — but it’s worth recalling that Giant’s Causeway, while a notoriously tough horse to beat, often seemed to do just what was necessary, winning three of his group I events by a head and another by half a length. From what I have seen so far, I certainly expect Giant Moon to be a major obstacle to Eastern 3-year-olds with classic aspirations.

One thing that shouldn’t be a question regarding Giant Moon is his potential to stay the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) trip. In addition to Giant Moon’s own relaxed attitude, we can note that Giant’s Causeway captured the Juddmonte International (gr. I) over 10 1/2 furlongs, and has several good winners that stayed the Derby distance, among them Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby, Fr-I) winner Shamardal; Mike Fox, who took last year’s Queen’s Plate; and group and graded winners Red Giant, Santagostino (AUS), Frost Giant, and Primary.

Giant Moon’s dam, Moonlightandbeauty, was, like Giant Moon, bred and owned by Albert Fried, Jr. in New York and trained by Richard Schosberg. A daughter of Capote, she earned her most prestigious victory when taking the state-bred Jack Betta Be Rite Stakes over 8 1/2 furlongs as a 4-year-old. Fried acquired the family when purchasing Moonlightandbeauty’s dam, the Deputy Minister mare Stolen Beauty, for $30,000 at the 1990 Keeneland September yearling sale. Although this price made Stolen Beauty the 24th-most expensive of the 25 Deputy Minister yearlings offered that year, it didn’t stop her becoming an extremely useful runner, winning the Demoiselle Stakes (gr. II) on her third start at 2, and subsequently going on to earn $300,000 including another stakes win — the My Charmer Stakes at Turfway Park — and five other black-type placings, most notably a second in the Astarita Stakes (gr. II).

Some years later, Stolen Beauty’s pedigree received a boost when her three-parts brother, Finality (by Deputy Minister’s son Dehere), another of Fried’s New York-breds, won the 2002 renewal of the Jamaica Handicap (gr. II). Stolen Beauty and Finality own rather clever pedigree patterns, as Deputy Minister is by Vice Regent (by Northern Dancer, a son of Nearctic out of a daughter of Victoriana) and their third dam, Chou Fleur, is by Victoriana’s half-brother Victoria Park out of a mare by Nearctic. This is Windfields Farm breeding, and since Giant’s Causeway is a grandson of Storm Bird, the great Canadian nursery is represented at the top and bottom of the pedigree. Giant Moon goes back to Chou Fleur through Bon Debarras — Giant Moon’s fourth dam — who is also dam of champion Canadian sprinter Eternal Search; granddam of Queen’s Plate victor Niigon; and third dam of grade I winner Island Sand (like Giant Moon, by a son of Storm Cat). It’s also interesting to note that Giant Moon’s dam is bred on a reverse Bold Ruler/Northern Dancer cross to Storm Cat.

Giant Moon earns a solid TrueNicks rating of B, based on the Storm Cat/Capote cross that has so far produced five stakes winners including the graded scorer Leah’s Secret.