01/07/2008 1:00AM

Giant Moon developing fast

Email

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The connections of Giant Moon haven't booked reservations in Louisville for the first Saturday in May just yet, but they soon may be scouring the Internet for the best deals.

Giant Moon's neck victory over a stubborn Spanky Fischbein in Saturday's Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct not only kept him undefeated (4 for 4), but also gave trainer Richard Schosberg enough confidence to feel that he can skip the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes here on Feb. 2 if he wants to and point the colt straight to the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham on March 8.

A bit lackadaisical and green early on, Giant Moon has begun to become more professional in his training, Schosberg said. That professionalism carried over to his race. In last month's Damon Runyon Stakes, jockey Ramon Dominguez really had to get into Giant Moon to make him run. On Saturday, Giant Moon was more responsive to the jockey's commands.

"I was pleased that in his training he had sharpened up and in his race Ramon had to work a lot less harder than the horse did this time," Schosberg said Monday morning. "Instead of having to wail on him to get him back into the bridle, all he had to was nudge to him or just chirp to him or just tap him on the shoulder to get him right back into the race. He's still got a lot to prove if he's going to get to the next level, obviously, but he's done everything we've asked so far. He's certainly an exciting horse."

Schosberg liked the fact that Giant Moon, who broke from post 7, rated in the Count Fleet. Handicapping the race on paper, Schosberg figured Spanky Fischbein, breaking from post 2 and in receipt of four pounds from Giant Moon, would go to the lead. Schosberg just wasn't sure what the two other speed types inside of Giant Moon would do. Schosberg told Dominguez that if he had to, he could take Giant Moon back into fourth position and experiment getting dirt in his face.

But Giant Moon broke sharply and got good enough position entering the clubhouse turn that he was sitting just off of Spanky Fischbein until it was time to go. Giant Moon, a son of Giant's Causeway, covered a mile and 70 yards in 1:41.14 and earned a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 92.

"I know that his numbers are good and they're gradually getting better," said Schosberg, noting that Giant Moon's speed figures aren't nearly as high as those of Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner War Pass. "He's got to keep stepping up. Who's to say that he can't? I still don't think we've got to the bottom of him yet. I think there's still improvement to come and I don't think the distance will be a factor."

Schosberg said his ultimate goal for Giant Moon is the Wood Memorial on April 5, and he sees no reason for Giant Moon to leave New York before then.

"He handles the tracks here, he trains good here, we've been through heat waves, cold snaps, everything there is, and he's done everything fine here," Schosberg said. "I'd like to run in the Wood, so why leave New York to come back? Horses get sick when they travel and he's very healthy right now."

Schosberg said the Whirlaway would not be a bad idea "if it comes up a five-horse field and we're 4-5."

It just might.

It's hard to imagine the Whirlaway having a big field. The purse has been boosted from $70,000 to $100,000, but it is not graded and it's run just a week before the Grade 3, $300,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Seth Benzel, the assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher, said Count Fleet runner-up Spanky Fischbein "would be a candidate" for the Whirlaway, but was far from committing to the race.

"He's going to be here in New York for the rest of the winter," Benzel said. "We're going to have look at the calendar. I think for his first showing against open company he gave a good account of himself."

Steve Klesaris, trainer of third-place finisher Roman Emperor, the Count Fleet favorite, said he would look at longer races for his colt and would "probably not" run back in the Whirlaway.

Victory Pool gets one more race

Victory Pool, a stakes-winning mare of more than $300,000, will be bred in a couple of months to Forest Wildcat. Before then, however, her connections would like to run her one more time - in Saturday's $75,000 Affectionately Handicap at Aqueduct.

Victory Pool, a 6-year-old daughter of Victory Gallop, ran third in last year's Affectionately, beaten a half-length by Great Intentions. Prior to that, Victory Pool won the restricted Gold Beauty Stakes over the inner track.

Victory Pool, owned by New Farm and trained by Ben Perkins Jr., has been in good form of late, finishing third in the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap over Aqueduct's main track before winning an allowance race last month at Philadelphia Park.

"I entered her in an overnight stakes up in New York and they didn't use it," Perkins said Monday from Florida. "I have horses at Philadelphia Park, so it was nice to win one there. I thought the timing was perfect."

Victory Pool was made the 117-pound highweight in the Affectionately, scheduled for 1 1/16 miles.