08/12/2004 11:00PM

'Moonshine' fit for shot at Vandal


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Moonshine Justice, who won his maiden last out in the Clarendon Stakes, should be a major player in Sunday's $164,550 Vandal Stakes, a six-furlong dash for Canadian-bred 2-year-olds at Woodbine.

Moonshine Justice has run twice. Trained and co-owned by Dave Cotey, he was disqualified from second and placed fourth for interference in his June 13 debut, a five-furlong maiden special for Ontario-sired runners. The winner, Wholelottabourbon, subsequently took the Colin Stakes in a romp.

Moonshine Justice had little problem winning the July 18 Clarendon, a 5 1/2-furlong stakes for Canadian-breds. He put away favored Flat Rock on the front end and then drew off for a three-length tally, earning a mediocre Beyer Figure of 66.

Cotey was content with Moonshine Justice's five-furlong work in 1:02.40 on the main track Tuesday.

"He was toting around 150 pounds, with [exercise rider] Charlie Browne on him," Cotey said. "I told Charlie to let him do it on his own. He went quicker the first part of it, and then pulled up a bit, but he galloped out strongly. He's not a work horse. His last work before the Clarendon was the worst work of the day."

Regarding Moonshine Justice's status for the Vandal, Cotey said: "He had a week off on the farm after the Clarendon, and then we brought him back into the track. He's had two five-eighths works since, and he's going into the race 100 percent."

Cotey bought Moonshine Justice privately after the son of Whiskey Wisdom failed to attain his reserve at a local yearling sale in September.

"He's a big, beautiful horse," Cotey said. "He's very correct. He cost $25,000, which is the most I've ever paid for a horse."

Slew's Saga, from the second-to-last crop of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew, could pose the main threat. Trained by Bob Tiller, Slew's Saga was a fast-closing second over a sloppy track in his five-furlong opener July 31.

"We thought it would be too short for him," Tiller said. "It was a good race. He just ran out of racetrack. I would like to think that he wants to go a lot farther than five-eighths."

Unlike his sire, Slew's Saga is a diminutive type, according to Tiller. "He's a nice compact horse," Tiller said. "He's a fine-looking animal. All his parts fit well."

Galaxy was second in his only start. He is trained by Reade Baker, who sent out Bosskiri to capture the Nandi Stakes here last Sunday.