10/18/2014 6:31PM

Moonlight Song fires fresh in Hudson Handicap

Barbara D. Livingston
Moonlight Song, making his first start in two months, wins the Hudson Handicap under Joel Rosario.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Several months’ worth of frustration evaporated in a little more than 75 seconds Saturday at Belmont Park when Moonlight Song went gate to wire to win the $150,000 Hudson Handicap, the eighth and final stakes on Empire Showcase Day at Belmont Park.

The win was the seventh from 16 career starts for Moonlight Song, a 7-year-old gelding by Unbridled’s Song owned and bred by Al Fried and trained by Charlton Baker. Moonlight Song is a half-brother to Giant Moon, who seven years ago won the Sleepy Hollow on this same card.

Last year, Moonlight Song finished second to Palace in this race.  Palace has won two Grade 1 races this year and is headed to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Moonlight Song won two races after the Hudson, including the Gold and Roses Stakes over Aqueduct’s inner track on Jan. 16. Baker had hopes of making several of the graded sprint stakes during the winter at Aqueduct, but Moonlight Song developed multiple foot abscesses, which forced him to the sidelines.

In July, Moonlight Song ran in the Belmont Sprint Championship, finishing fourth behind Clearly Now. In August, at Saratoga, he ran fifth in the John Morrissey Stakes, finishing behind several horses he was facing Saturday.

Baker explained that Moonlight Song lost a hind shoe early in the Morrissey and got cut up pretty bad behind.

“He went into the Morrissey training good. I thought we had a good chance to win that,” Baker said. “He came back training good. He’s just a horse that runs good fresh.”

Moonlight Song hadn’t run in eight weeks entering the Hudson. Though Moonlight Song had plenty of early speed, both Baker and jockey Joel Rosario thought he would be sitting second early.


Breaking sharply, Moonlight Song ran an opening quarter in 22.54 seconds and a half in 45.18 while being pressed by Laila’s Jazz.

Moonlight Song put that horse away but had Captain Serious getting ready to pounce. After discarding Captain Serious, Moonlight Song had more than enough to hold off the late-running Big Business.

Moonlight Song covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:15.58 and returned $12.60 to win.

 “I was thinking before the race it looked like there were a couple of horses with speed like my horse and I’d be sitting second or third but he broke so sharp I just let him go on,” Rosario said “He was all game today.”