07/24/2010 1:39PM

Giant Moon looking good as ever for Evan Shipman


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – If his last two races are any indication, Giant Moon appears to be back to the form that made him the champion New York-bred 2-year-old of 2007 as well as a graded stakes winning 4-year-old of last year.

If that is indeed the case, Giant Moon figures to be very tough in Monday’s $70,000 Evan Shipman Stakes for statebreds at Saratoga. After a two-year hiatus, the Evan Shipman was brought back when the Saratoga meet expanded to 40 days. The Evan Shipman will go as race 3 on a nine-race card.

Giant Moon was away from the races for nearly a year with foot issues, and trainer Richard Schosberg admittedly brought him back in a tough spot, the Grade 3 Westchester, where he finished last. After that, though, Giant Moon won an allowance race at Belmont and in another allowance race, chased Haynesfield around the track, while finishing second. Haynesfield came back to win the Grade 2 Suburban.

“I was thrilled with his race,” Schosberg said of the second to Haynesfield. “He never gave up against a horse that always has the lead at the quarter pole and has rarely given it back. To be chasing a horse like that and to keep maintaining his bid and finish 10 lengths ahead of a horse that he finished three-quarters of a length ahead of last time was a major step forward.”

The Evan Shipman, which is a two-turn 1 1/8-mile race, will be Giant Moon’s first start at Saratoga.

“He’s trained beautifully up here this week,” Schosberg said. “I think we’re coming up to the race in pretty good shape.”

Giant Moon will break from post 5 under Edgar Prado and will likely end up be stalking probable pace-setter Mighty Morris.

Ruffino is another who could be forwardly placed. Ruffino was beaten 3 1/2 lengths by Giant Moon on May 15, but was dealing with a quarter crack issue both before and after the race. Ruffino has won his only start at Saratoga and has trained her since May, which trainer James Bond hopes is an advantage.

“He’s one of those horses that just knows how to get there,” Bond said. “He throws his heart out and chases it every time. If I got him right, he’s going to be there.”

The millionaire Naughty New Yorker has lost his last 20 starts, but he has 3 wins and 2 seconds from 5 Saratoga starts. The 8-year-old horse stretches out off fourth-place finish sprinting.

Icabad Crane, Groomedforvictory, and Slevin complete the field.