06/08/2009 11:00PM

Carroll looking for key to Au Moon


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If it's broke, fix it. David Carroll is trying his best to extract what he believes to be an untapped source of talent with a 3-year-old named Au Moon, but the Irish-born trainer is having a difficult time doing so.

"He's been a disappointment, because he started off with such promise," said Carroll, who will send out Au Moon as the likely favorite in the Thursday feature at Churchill Downs, a $50,200 entry-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. "I'm just trying to get him more focused, because I believe he's a horse just not giving us everything."

After Au Moon finished third as the favorite in an allowance race on the March 14 Louisiana Derby undercard at Fair Grounds, Carroll had the horse gelded. And after returning May 13 at Churchill with a runner-up finish at odds-on, Au Moon is being equipped with blinkers for this start.

"I don't know how the blinkers will help, because seeing is believing," said Carroll, who on Saturday sent out Acoma to win the Early Times Mint Julep at Churchill. "I worked him in them Sunday, and he just went okay. I'm just trying to turn him around. He'll drag you to the pole, then it's like, 'Okay, I'm just going to do what I need to do.' He's better than that."

Au Moon, owned by Louisville businessmen Tim Brown and Phil Gahm, won easily in his second career start, a 2-year-old maiden race that closed out the Churchill fall meet on Nov. 29. But his Fair Grounds campaign failed to fulfill that promise as he was third in the Lecomte and eighth in the Risen Star before the back-to-back allowance losses this spring.

Au Moon, with Julien Leparoux to ride, will start from the outside post in the eighth of nine Thursday races, one of two allowances on the card. His primary opposition appears to be Stage Deli, a recent maiden winner on the Churchill turf, and Inkado, who stretches out after getting a 96 Beyer Speed Figure in a maiden sprint victory. In all, seven 3-year-olds and up are entered.

In the earlier allowance (race 2), Leparoux also has the likely favorite in Soundman, a sharp maiden winner on May 22 for D. Wayne Lukas. Six 2-year-olds are entered in the five-furlong race.