06/22/2008 11:00PM

Rising Moon rising star for Dutrow


ELMONT, N.Y. - Stop us if you've heard this one before. A horse wins a maiden race on turf. A first-level allowance race is rained off the grass, but trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. runs the horse on dirt anyway, and a star is born.

At 5 years old, Rising Moon cannot match the accomplishments of Big Brown - who went from maiden turf winner to Kentucky Derby winner in four starts - but Dutrow does believe the horse has star quality. Rising Moon, a gray son of Runaway Groom, will get a chance to showcase that potential when he runs in Saturday's Grade 1, $400,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park.

Rising Moon, owned by Four Roses Thoroughbreds, has won all four of his starts for Dutrow, a streak that began with a maiden turf win at Gulfstream in February 2007 and most recently includes a third-level dirt allowance win at Belmont last month.

"He's never been beat with us with four different riders - grass, dirt, mile and a half," Dutrow said Monday at Aqueduct. "So, I'm looking for him to run big in the Suburban."

Rising Moon has twice endured layoffs precipitated by injury. After he lost his only starts at 2 and 3 when in the barn of Ralph Ziadie, Rising Moon was turned over to Dutrow late in 2006. In February 2007, Rising Moon won a 1 1/8-mile maiden turf race at Gulfstream by a head.

Six weeks later he was entered in a first-level turf allowance race that was rained off the turf. Dutrow had told his owners he felt the horse was better on dirt and asked to run the horse in the race. Rising Moon won by nine lengths.

On May 18, 2007, Rising Moon won the $67,000 Wagon Limit Stakes at Belmont Park by four lengths, beating, among others, 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide in the 1 1/2-mile race. Dutrow said Rising Moon broke his foot in that race, which is why he didn't run again until last month, when he beat three horses in a third-level allowance race going 1 1/16 miles at Belmont.

"He's very good right now," Dutrow said. "He's turning into being a nice horse. He used to be mean as a snake; he'd want to hurt you. Now he's got that in him, but he's so much more manageable and so nicer to be around."

Since Rising Moon is regally bred for the turf, Dutrow said, win or lose in the Suburban, Rising Moon may actually return to the grass in a race like the Sword Dancer at Saratoga on Aug. 16.

"There's nothing real exciting that I would like to try with him on the dirt anyway," Dutrow said. "It's good timing, and he wants to run all day, and he's bred everywhere for the grass."

Others considered definite for the Suburban are A.P. Arrow, Angliana, Harlington, and Solar Flare. Naughty New Yorker and Better Than Bonds are also under consideration.

Frost Giant to Suburban?

Dutrow may have a second horse for the Suburban, depending how well Frost Giant runs in a third-level allowance race going a mile on dirt on Wednesday.

Frost Giant, a multiple Group 3 winner on turf in Europe, won a second-level allowance race on dirt in February. After running fourth in the Grade 3 Skip Away, Frost Giant has made his last two starts on turf, most recently finishing second at Monmouth Park.

Wednesday's allowance race is run at one mile on the dirt.

"He's a hard horse to figure out; I still ain't got him figured out yet," Dutrow said. "He's going good now though. I don't have a problem trying what we're going to try."

Dutrow said if Frost Giant runs big Wednesday, he'll leave him at Belmont with Bobby Frankel and walk him into the Suburban.

"I'll put him on the lead in the Suburban," Dutrow said. "I'll put Rudy [Rodriguez] on him and let him ride him right out of there, that's what the horse wants. He doesn't want you to take a hold of him."

Speaking of Frankel, he is running two horses, Rathor and Temecula Creek, in Wednesday's allowance race.

Hamsa joins Mother Goose cast

With the likelihood of a short field for Saturday's Grade 1 Mother Goose, trainer Barclay Tagg will enter Hamsa in the race, his assistant, Robin Smullen, said on Monday.

Hamsa, a daughter of Fusaichi Pegasus, has won her last two starts, both coming since blinkers were added to her equipment.

Smullen said the decision to put blinkers on Hamsa only came after she showed some reluctance to train in the mornings. "That's the FuPeg in her," said Smullen, noting that Fusaichi Pegasus was a bit quirky and high strung. "She's gotten to the point now that we don't even train her in them. She probably doesn't need them anymore but now that she's won two in a row you'd hate to take them off."

Smullen sad Hamsa was not wearing blinkers Sunday when she worked a solid five furlongs in 59.93 seconds over the Belmont training track with Kristin Troxell up.

"I thought she worked very well," Smullen said. "Barclay got the last quarter in 23-and-change."

As of Monday, the only other confirmed runners for the Mother Goose were Kentucky Oaks winner Proud Spell and Music Note. Pious Ashley is possible, as is one horse from the three trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has nominated.

On Monday, at Fair Hill, Proud Spell worked five furlongs in 59.80.

Indian Blessing preps for Prioress

Indian Blessing, last year's 2-year-old filly champion who finished second in the Acorn, worked five furlongs in 59.84 Sunday morning over Belmont's main track. She is preparing for a start in the Grade 1 Prioress here on July 5.

Tonja Terranova, who along with her husband, John, helps oversee trainer Bob Baffert's New York-based horses, said the move actually began at the half-mile pole and Indian Blessing galloped out the five furlongs.

"Bob has us go real light with her after [the Acorn], but now she seems full of herself, she's putting on weight again and she's very happy training out there again," Terranova said.

One of Indian Blessing's rivals in the Prioress may be By the Light, the undefeated (5 for 5) New York-bred filly trained by Dutrow. By the Light was voted New York-bred juvenile filly champion of 2007.