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Noble Moon heads group of 3-year-olds in Jerome

By Jon Forbes | 01/01/2014 05:05 PM ET
Noble Moon
PHOTO/Adam Coglianese

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Noble Moon will attempt to make up for lost time when he heads a group of eight sophomores entered in the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome, the first graded stakes of the year in New York for 3-year-olds.

The one mile, 70-yard Jerome will be contested on Saturday at Aqueduct Racetrack and serve as the first of three races building to the Grade 1, $1 million Wood Memorial on April 5. Following the Jerome, Aqueduct will host the Grade 3, $250,000 Withers on February 1 and the Grade 3, $500,000 Gotham on March 1.


Treadway Racing Stables' Noble Moon won his debut race, a six-furlong event in September at Belmont Park, by three-quarters of a length before making a six-wide rally from 12th when third by a diminishing three lengths in the Grade 2, one-mile Nashua on November 3 at Aqueduct.


Off his Nashua performance, Noble Moon was tabbed as the third choice on the morning line for the Grade 2, 1 1/8-mile Remsen on November 30 at Aqueduct, but he was scratched after having an allergic reaction the night before the race.


"He got hives the night before [the Remsen] and we had to treat him, so he had to be scratched," said trainer Leah Gyarmati. "He's been great ever since, hasn't missed a work, and is doing very well, so, hopefully, he'll run well on Saturday. He could have run [in the Remsen], even with the hives, if we hadn't treated him around midnight."


Noble Moon prepared for his two-turn debut by breezing one mile in 1:45.22 on December 28 over the Belmont training track.


"He sat off the other horse he worked with, Street Gent, and finished very well, so I think we're fine," said Gyarmati. "You have to run in these races if you're thinking about having a nice 3-year-old, a Derby horse. This race probably won't come up as tough as some of the races down the line, but it's a good starting place, and you have to see how he matches up against everyone else."


Irad Ortiz, Jr. will ride Noble Moon for the first time in the Jerome. The bay colt drew post position 1 and was made the 6-5 morning-line favorite.


Alan R. Cook and Larry Pratt's Master Lightning is returning to graded stakes competition after taking an optional claimer by three-quarters of a length against three opponents on December 22 at Aqueduct Racetrack. In his two previous stakes starts, he was ninth in the Nashua and fifth in the Remsen.


In both the Remsen and the optional claimer, Master Lightning raced on or just off the lead through glacially slow fractions.


"Coming out of his last race, it's a short turnaround, but if he does go in [the Jerome] he should be tough," said Byron Hughes, assistant to trainer Todd Pletcher. "I think he naturally wants to be up [near the lead], and it's more favorable to be up near the pace [on the inner track]."


Master Lightning, ridden by Irad Ortiz in his most recent start, will now have the services of Cornelio Velasquez. The dark bay or brown son of Pulpit drew post 8 and was made the 6-1 fourth choice on the morning line.


Classic Giacnroll will make his first start in a route race when he competes in the Jerome. The stretch runner won a pair of six-furlong dashes in September at Parx Racing and comes into Saturday's race off a third in the seven-furlong Marylander Stakes in the mud on December 7 at Laurel Park.


Alex Solis, who previously rode Noble Moon, has the mount aboard Classic Giacnroll, 5-1, from post 7. Trainer Lisa Guerrero owns Classic Giacnroll in partnership with Joseph E. Besecker.


Scotland is winless in two starts, but that didn't deter trainer Tony Dutrow from entering the Harvey Clarke, Paul Braverman, and Team D color-bearer in the Jerome. The maiden has finished second in his two starts, missing by a head going six furlongs on October 30 at Laurel and by 2 ¼ lengths in a seven-furlong race on November 30 at Aqueduct.


David Cohen will ride Scotland, the 7-2 second choice, from post 2.


The field also includes Lawmaker, who won a Laurel maiden race in November in his lone start to date; Pin and Win, fourth in the Don Rickles overnight stakes on December 21 at Aqueduct; and Matuszak and Mental Iceberg, respectively sixth and eighth in the Remsen.



The field for the Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome:








Noble Moon (VA)

I Ortiz, Jr.


L Gyarmati



Scotland (KY)

D Cohen


A W. Dutrow



Lawmaker (KY)

J L. Ortiz


C C. Brown



Pin and Win (KY)

A Castellano, Jr.


J A. Lostritto



Matuszak (KY)

R Maragh


W I. Mott



Mental Iceberg (NY)

A S. Arroyo


G DiPrima



Classic Giacnroll (KY)

A O. Solis


L Guerrero



Master Lightning (PA)

C H. Velasquez


T A. Pletcher