10/18/2007 12:00AM

Sleepy Hollow: Big Truck carries sky-high hopes

EmailELMONT, N.Y. - Though Big Truck won the Bertram F. Bongard Stakes by two lengths, he didn't win it with the ease or brilliance those who handle him or who pounded him to 2-5 favoritism thought he would.

Barclay Tagg, the trainer of Big Truck, thinks he knows why.

"I actually think he had something wrong with him because he was under the weather for a couple of days after that," Tagg said. "He had a temperature the next day. I think he was coming down with something, so I'm letting that be the whole reason for not having quite as sharp a race."

Tagg said he doesn't see any negative signs from Big Truck entering Saturday's $100,000 Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park, for which Big Truck will again be a prohibitive favorite. Seven horses were entered against Big Truck in the one-mile Sleepy Hollow, but all may not run.

If Big Truck wins the Sleepy Hollow, he will have matched the 2-year-old campaign put in five years ago by Funny Cide, who went on to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Tagg believes Big Truck could be a contender on the Triple Crown trail next year.

"He doesn't do anything wrong, he's lovely to get along with, he's a beautiful mover, and he's fast," Tagg said. "What more could you ask for?"

Big Truck, a son of Hook and Ladder, was very impressive winning his debut at Saratoga by 6 1/2 lengths. Breaking from an outside post in the Bongard, Big Truck stalked three wide for the opening eighth-mile before hooking up with Spanky Fischbein and dueling with him until deep stretch.

Big Truck again drew the outside post in this field and the only question may be whether he wants to run a mile. Tagg doesn't see that as much of a question.

"I don't think it'll make any difference to him," Tagg said. "I don't think there's any distance limitations to him."

Trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. entered both Coastal Drive and Dazzling Derek in the Sleepy Hollow. Dazzling Derek finished third behind Big Truck in the Bongard, and Dutrow is considering running him in a turf stakes here on Sunday. Dutrow claimed Coastal Drive in August for $25,000 and this would be his first start since then.

"Some of my owners spend that on dinner," Dutrow said. "How bad can it be for a New York-bred?

Another Gulch won a 1 1/16-mile turf maiden race here on Sept. 14. Though trainer Tom Bush thinks he might be better on turf than dirt, he feels this is a good spot to try.

"He doesn't scream out looking like a turf horse," Bush said. He's very, very brave, and he definitely wants a route of ground."

Giant Moon won his debut going five furlongs, and will now try to stretch out to one mile in his second start.

"I trained his mom and she was a very nice filly," said trainer Richard Schosberg, referring to Moonlightandbeauty, who won races from seven furlongs to 1o1/16 miles. "I'm banking on that pedigree helping Giant Moon navigate that one-mile distance."