10/20/2010 4:14PM

Giant Moon back in New York Showcase Day

Barbara D. Livingston
Giant Moon is one of the favorites for Saturday's $200,000 Empire Classic at Belmont Park.

ELMONT, N.Y. – After winning the 2007 Sleepy Hollow Stakes en route to a statebred juvenile championship, Giant Moon has been unable to make it back for New York Showcase Day. A variety of ailments – stemming from foot issues – kept him from making the Empire Classic in each of the last two years.

This year, though, Giant Moon has managed to stay healthy and on Saturday he will be one of 11 runners to contest the 1 1/8 miles of the $200,000 Empire Classic, the centerpiece of a 10-race card that includes seven stakes for New York-breds totaling $900,000 in purses.

Giant Moon will be one of several with a chance in the Empire Classic, which lacks a standout considering Haynesfield, the Jockey Club Gold Cup winner, is now in Louisville training for the Breeders’ Cup Classic on Nov.6.

Since returning to the races in April with an ill-conceived start in the Grade 2 Westchester Stakes off an 11-month layoff, Giant Moon has recorded two wins and two seconds against statebred company. At Saratoga, he won the Evan Shipman Stakes, while most recently, he finished second to longshot Mine Over Matter in the Salute Me Sir Stakes here Sept. 17.

“This is the first season where we’ve had no hiccups along the way,” trainer Richard Schosberg said. “He’s been great physically. We pointed for this race early on in the season hoping we’d get there smoothly. I think we’ve accomplished that. We haven’t won every time, but we’ve run hard every time.”

Schosberg said he felt Giant Moon may have loafed a bit after making the lead in upper stretch of the Salute Me Sir, only to be passed by Mine Over Matter, who beat him by nearly four lengths. That race was at 1 1/16 miles; the Empire Classic will be at 1 1/8 miles.

“I think the mile and an eighth suits him well,” said Schosberg, who will be unable to attend the race because it’s parent’s weekend at Boston University where his son Ryan is a freshman. “It kind of keeps everybody together a little bit longer. Last time, when he got away from that horse he loafed, and [Mine Over Matter] had momentum.”

Though 11 entered the Empire Classic, there will be only nine betting interests as Manteca and Ibboyee are part of an Anstu Stables-owned entry and Friend or Foe and Mine Over Matter will be coupled as part of a Chester and Mary Broman entry.

Others entered include Wishful Tomcat, the potential favorite, Ruffino, Icabad Crane, Naughty New Yorker, Stormy’s Majesty, and Star of New York.

Bug Juice to await Delta Jackpot

Several division leaders – including Haynesfield, Rightly So, and Get Serious – will not be part of New York Showcase Day. Add Bug Juice to that list.

Bug Juice, the leading New York-bred 2-year-old based on two stakes wins at Finger Lakes, is being pointed to the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs on Nov. 20. But that horse’s connections, Our Blue Streaks Stable and trainer Bruce Levine, will still be represented by Bambi Bound in the $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes for 2-year-old males.

After finishing sixth in his debut at Saratoga, Bambi Bound, with Lasix and blinkers added, won a 5 1/2-furlong maiden race here Oct. 9 by 1 1/2 lengths.

“I think his last start really started to focus him,” said Neal Galvin, of Our Blue Streaks Stable. “I really think he’s a nice horse. I think he’s going to show an improved performance in the Sleepy Hollow. I think he can be whatever his mind will take him to be, because he certainly has the body to get it done.”

Todd Pletcher entered three in the Sleepy Hollow, including Hysterical Cat, twice beaten at Finger Lakes by Bug Juice; Never Right Joey, who is 2 for 2; and recent maiden winner Crea’s Law.

Saltamontes, who has won her first two starts, heads a field of 10 entered in the $100,000 Maid of the Mist for juvenile fillies.

Straight Story tops Mohawk

Straight Story, who has two wins and two narrow losses in his last four starts against New York-bred competition, heads a field of 10 entered in the $125,000 Mohawk Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on the inner turf course.

Straight Story, who won the West Point Stakes at Saratoga two starts back, comes off a last-place finish in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in September.

Among the leading contenders are Uncle T Seven, Pocket Cowboys, and Johannesburg Smile.

In the $125,000 Ticonderoga for fillies and mares, You Go West Girl will try to bounce back from a fourth-place finish as the 1-2 favorite in the John Hettinger Stakes here Sept. 26. She won the Ticonderoga last year over soft ground.

The 10-horse field includes all the usual suspects, including Exclusive Scheme, Chestoria, Meriwether Jessica, Crazy Catlady, and Ms Stilleto.

Driven by Success, Endless Circle head Hudson

Driven by Success will seek a repeat victory in the $125,000 Hudson Stakes but will have to get past the latest statebred sprint sensation, Endless Circle, who has won 4 of 5 starts since being claimed by Rudy Rodriguez for $14,000.

The eight-horse field includes Rollers, Raynicks Jet, General Maximus, and Be Bullish.

The Hudson will go as the second race on the card.

The Iroquois, for female sprinters, drew a field of 11 with no real standout. The gritty Meese Rocks finished second to R Betty Graybull in the Anniron Stakes here Sept. 29 and will have to deal with that rival again Saturday.