03/06/2008 12:00AM

Giant Moon faces questions


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - By winning his first four starts, Giant Moon has obviously done everything asked of him. On Saturday, the questions begin getting harder.

Giant Moon will have to answer several inquiries in Saturday's Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, where he figures to meet his toughest field to date in the first graded stakes of his career. Richard Schosberg, trainer of Giant Moon, said he is looking forward to finding out more about his talented New York-bred colt and admits that he must improve in order to be taken seriously as a legitimate Kentucky Derby contender.

"He has a lot to prove, he has a lot of improving to do," said Schosberg, who trains Giant Moon for owner-breeder Al Fried Jr. "His numbers have to get better if he's going to be considered in the top 15. If he does, he does, if he doesn't, and we don't come up with a reason why, there are several other alternatives for us."

With plenty of speed expected for the 1 1/16-mile Gotham, Giant Moon must prove he can be successful from off the pace. Schosberg isn't quite sure how Giant Moon will rate behind horses, though in the two months since Giant Moon's last race, Schosberg has worked the colt several times behind horses.

"In the time we've had off, we worked him in company behind horses, between horses, around horses just to keep that competitive edge," Schosberg said.

In winning the Count Fleet Stakes on Jan. 5 - his last start - Giant Moon did sit off another horse, but never really got dirt in his face. That figures to change in the Gotham, which is expected to have a nine-horse field, including speed horses Saratoga Russell, Southern Terminus, and Larry's Revenge.

"It looks like those horses are probably going to go out there and show their running style early," Schosberg said. "That being said, he has tactical speed. Post position is going to have a lot to do with it. If we're inside, we want to stay inside. If we're outside, we want to try to get to the inside."

Post positions for the Gotham were to have been drawn Thursday.

With a forecast calling for rain Friday night into Saturday morning, Giant Moon may have to prove he can handle an off track. Schosberg said he has no idea how Giant Moon will handle a wet surface because he's never asked him to do much over an off track in the morning, nor has he raced over one in the afternoon.

"If you get a bad track, some horses will run super, some horses don't run their race," said Schosberg, who noted that it adds more questions. "Is it the track? Is it the company? That's the only thing right now, it looks like the weather is very iffy."

Despite spending the entire winter in New York, Giant Moon's training has not been affected by the weather. Schosberg said Giant Moon has not been forced to miss any workouts due to inclement weather.

"So far, it's worked out," Schosberg said.

He'll know just how well on Saturday.

Eaton's Gift out, Larry's Revenge in

The Gotham field lost its only graded stakes winner when trainer Dale Romans said Swale victor Eaton's Gift would skip the race and instead point to the $100,000 Lafayette at Keeneland on April 6.

Romans said he wanted to get Eaton's Gift another sprint before stretching him out, possibly in the Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland on April 19.

Meanwhile, Nick Zito said Wednesday that Larry's Revenge would run in the Gotham. After beginning his career in Southern California with Doug O'Neill, Larry's Revenge has run once for Zito, finishing third in a first-level allowance race going seven furlongs at Gulfstream on Feb. 2.

"I think he's an improving colt, that's the idea," Zito said. "We'll see how much he's improved. I think he might like the [inner] track. He's kind of a shifty horse."

Though Larry's Revenge is still eligible for a first-level allowance condition, Zito said the horse has had enough seasoning to run in a stakes race. Zito said Joe Bravo would come up from Florida to ride.

Sir Greeley returns for Toboggan

Sir Greeley spent the bulk of the winter training in south Florida, but he will make his 6-year-old debut in New York in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Toboggan Handicap at six furlongs.

Sir Greeley, winner of the Grade 3 Westchester Handicap in 2006, has not raced since finishing last in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile over Aqueduct's main track on Nov. 24. Though Sir Greeley shows a sparkling work tab at the Palm Meadows training center, trainer Jimmy Jerkens has been unable to find a race for him at Gulfstream Park.

Steve Moyer, the Belmont Park assistant to Jerkens, said Sir Greeley was entered five or six times at Gulfstream, but those races never filled, so Jerkens shipped him up here.

"He's always liked Aqueduct, whether it's the main track or the inner track," Moyer said.

Sir Greeley has not raced on the inner track since December 2005 when he won the Fly So Free, an overnight stakes. Last winter, Sir Greeley recorded two solid second-place finishes in graded stakes at Gulfstream before suffering a chip in a hind ankle that sidelined him until the fall.

Sir Greeley won a starter handicap and finished second in the Grade 3 Sport Page before being overmatched in the Cigar Mile, won by Daaher.

"We're looking forward to running him," Moyer said. "He's always been a bit of a barn favorite, a fun horse to have around. He looks as good as ever, he's got a bounce to him, and he's training well."

Others pointing to the Toboggan are City Attraction, Gold and Roses, Man of Danger, Santana Strings, Bold Start, Ravalo, and possibly Master of Disaster and Trophy Road.

Pick six pays $6,610 to 130

With three favorites, a second choice, and two third choices winning, handicappers nailed Wednesday's pick six, with 130 correct tickets each returning $6,610. The consolation payout (5 of 6) was $74.

There was a two-day carryover of $265,874 entering the card and an additional $1,055,180 was wagered Wednesday, a day in which only two other racetracks were conducting live racing.

The winning sequence of 2-8-6-7-5-2 consisted of Dadoway ($9), Double Delta ($7.10), Pure Devil ($3.80), Spurrier ($5.40), What's Your Point ($6.20), and first-time starter Fast Wheels ($15.80).

The payout of $6,610 was significantly higher than the parlay, which came out to $4,014.

Greeley's Legacy looks to improve

Greeley's Legacy finished his last start looking like a horse in need of a race. Schosberg, his trainer, believes that to be the case and is seeking an improved effort in Friday's featured third-level allowance race, which drew a field of five.

Greeley's Legacy, a two-time winner over the inner track, finished fourth in this condition Jan. 25, his first start in nine months and his first for Schosberg.

"He's a big, big heavy horse and he definitely needed the race," Schosberg said. "He made a pretty strong middle move in that race and he came back pretty doggone tired. I don't know him well enough to know if he's ready to win, but he's training forwardly."

The race should set up nicely for Greeley's Legacy, with Pink Viper, Take the Bluff, and possibly Nkosi Reigns all seeking the early lead.

Irish Majesty, a winner of two straight starter handicaps, rounds out the quintet.

* Sabastian Morales, a seven-pound apprentice, made an auspicious New York debut Wednesday, guiding Cherna ($23.80) through a narrow opening along the rail to win the opener. Morales, a 22-year-old native of Mexico, has moved his tack to New York from Tampa Bay Downs, where he rode 6 winners from 45 mounts. He is represented by Paul DeMarco.