Noble Moon overcame a slow start and a wide trip to finish a good third in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes and the Malibu Moon colt will make his second stakes start in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Jerome at Aqueduct. He heads a field of eight three-year-olds in the one-mile and 70-yard event on the inner track.
As part of the "Prep Season" portion of the Road to the Kentucky Derby scoring system, the Jerome will offer points on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the top four finishers.
It also serves as one of three New York prep races building toward the $1 million Wood Memorial on April 5. Following the Jerome, Aqueduct will host the Grade 3 Withers on February 1 and the Grade 3 Gotham on March 1.
Noble Moon has been installed as the 6-5 favorite on the Jerome morning line. He was entered to the Grade 2 Remsen on November 30 at Aqueduct but wound up being 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," trainer Leah Gyarmati said. "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 led wire to wire when making his career debut in a Belmont Park maiden special weight on September 14, but the $200,000 yearling purchase missed the break when trying winners in the November 3 Nashua, trailing early in the 12-horse field. He was forced at least six paths wide off the far turn before rallying boldly past rivals in the stretch to fall only three lengths short to the winning Cairo Prince.
Out of a Kingmambo mare, Noble Moon figures to appreciate the added ground in his two-turn bow. He will pick up the services of Irad Ortiz Jr. and breaks from the rail.
Lawmaker, who is also by Malibu Moon, will jump straight to stakes company for trainer Chad Brown following a nice maiden special weight victory at Laurel Park. Making his career debut at a tricky one-mile distance, the bay colt rallied strongly from off the pace to win going away by a length on November 28, earning a 100 BRIS Late Pace rating, and Lawmaker will add jockey Jose Ortiz for his second career start.
Master Lightning will return to stakes company for Todd Pletcher following a front-running victory over optional claiming foes on the inner track on December 22. He finished fifth in the Grade 2 Remsen two starts back. Matuszak and Mental Iceberg also have stakes experience, recording unplaced efforts in the Remsen, and Classic Giacnroll invades for conditioner Lisa Guerrero following a third in the December 7 Marylander at Laurel Park.
Scotland is still a maiden, but he figures to receive support after finishing second in his first two starts, including a nice effort behind the promising Surfing U S A last out. Pin and Win, who exits a non-threatening fourth in the Don Rickles on December 21, completes the field.