04/03/2012 2:46PM

Aqueduct: Moonlight Song trying to make up for lost time


OZONE PARK, N.Y. – Moonlight Song, a late-blooming gelding unveiled for two promising wins on the inner track, looks to stay perfect against six rivals in Thursday’s fifth race, a one-mile New York-bred allowance with a $25,000 claiming option.

Moonlight Song is a homebred half-brother to Giant Moon, a six-time stakes winner for owner-breeder Albert Fried including the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct in 2009.

But whereas Giant Moon won the Excelsior at age 4, Moonlight Song is a 5-year-old who didn’t make it to the races until Feb. 3, when he wired a maiden special weight route at a mile and 70 yards. A month later, he caught a muddy track in the Gotham Day opener and overcome the far outside post to prevail.

“I didn’t get him until around last November – he was gelded before he came to me, and I’ve had no problems with him,” said Charlie Baker, who had a solid 12-win winter. “There were no maiden races at three-quarters for 4-year-olds and up at the time, so that’s why he went long to start out. The one-turn mile shouldn’t be a problem. He relaxes pretty good, but he does have a lot of speed.”

Two weeks after his allowance win, Moonlight Song breezed a bullet five furlongs, suggesting further improvement may be forthcoming.

“He’s a better horse than what he’s shown in his first two races,” Baker said. “The only knock on him is experience, but if he runs his race, he should be competitive with that bunch.”

Moonlight Song’s two main rivals, Ruffino and Panthro, were claimed from their last starts for $14,000 and $75,000, respectively.

Ruffino won for the 11th time when haltered by Steve Klesaris, beating a softer field.

Panthro, acquired by Richard Dutrow Jr. from a pacesetting try against open company, is a 3-year-old getting weight from older rivals. Prior to maiden and allowance wins sprinting in mid-winter, he was third in an open maiden race at Gulfstream to eventual Hutcheson winner Thunder Moccasin.

Most Happy Fella, So Scott, Tap Attack, and This Hard Land complete the lineup.

◗ Three turf races are scheduled, beginning with race 4, a $65,000 maiden special that is the richest race of the day. Preach Tome Daddy is the morning-line choice with Julien Leparoux, who rides at Aqueduct for the first time since winning the 2010 Carter Handicap on Warrior’s Reward.