Noble Moon put himself on the Kentucky Derby trail when he won the 2014 Jerome Stakes, the first Kentucky Derby points race of the year (Photos courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire).
Making the Grade, which will run through the 2014 Belmont Stakes, focuses on the winners of the big races, usually from the previous weekend, who could impact the next Triple Crown. We’ll be taking a close look at impressive winners and evaluating their chances to win classic races based upon ability, running style, connections (owner, trainer, jockey) and pedigree.
This week we take a closer look at Noble Moon, winner of the Grade 2 Jerome Stakes on Jan. 4 at Aqueduct.
Noble Moon solidified his credentials as a contender on the 2014 classic trail with a determined two-length victory in the Jerome Stakes. After winning his debut and finishing third in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes, Noble Moon proved capable of competing against top competition in the Jerome and most likely will target the $500,000 Gotham Stakes on March 1 for his next start for trainer Leah Gyarmati.
Sire (Father): Malibu Moon
Dam (Mother): Mambo Bell, by Kingmambo
Owners: Treadway Racing Stables
Breeder: Estate of Edward P. Evans (Va.)
Trainer: Leah Gyarmati
Ability: Noble Moon showed promise right from the start of his career. He won his debut in September at Belmont Park in front-running fashion in a win that earned an Equibase Speed Figure of 84. The Malibu Moon colt was hampered by a troubled start in the Nashua Stakes – he was bumped shortly after the starting gates opened and trailed the 12-horse field in the early stages – in his second race. Noble Moon did not throw in the towel, however, and finished powerfully for third only three lengths behind highly regarded winner Cairo Prince. He was given an Equibase Speed figure of 95 for his Nashua performance, a nice 11-point improvement when stretching out from a six-furlong (three quarters of a mile) sprint to one mile. In the Jerome, Noble Moon tracked an easy pace from second through a half-mile and took command without any urging. He was tested by runner-up Classic Giacnroll in the stretch but fended off that rival and pulled away to win by a comfortable two lengths. His 102 speed figure marked his third straight improvement and indicates that this is a colt headed in the right direction.
Purchased for $200,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale, Noble Moon already has earned $193,000 and appears to have a bright future ahead of him.
Running style: In his three starts, Noble Moon has led from start to finish, closed from out of the clouds for third and pressed a slow pace before taking command on the backstretch in the Jerome. It appears as though his preference is to be near the lead early and utilize a nice cruising speed, but the Nashua definitely proved he is resilient and adaptable in races. That versatility should serve him well when he encounters trouble as he did in the Nashua, and his willingness to fight when things don’t develop as planned is an admirable trait.
Expect to see Noble Moon close to the lead as he advances on the Triple Crown trail. As the races get longer and more competitive we find out how far he can carry his speed.
NOBLE MOON'S CONNECTIONS CELEBRATE IN THE JEROME WINNER'S CIRCLE
Connections: Trainer Leah Gyarmati, a former assistant to Hall of Famer Allen Jerkens, has won more than 200 races since taking out her trainer’s license in 1999. In addition to Noble Moon, Gyarmati also is the trainer of Grade 1 winner Sweet Reason, who finished fourth in the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. Sweet Reason and Noble Moon give Gyarmati a nice one-two punch for the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. She has never had a starter in either race.
Noble Moon’s owner, Jeff Treadway, is a Lexington, Ky., native who, like Gyarmati, earned his first graded stakes win with Sweet Reason. He started racing Thoroughbreds in 2009.
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Pedigree: Noble Moon is from the 11th crop of top stallion Malibu Moon, who sired 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Malibu Moon is arguably the top son at stud of 1992 Horse of the Year and two-time leading sire A.P. Indy. A large percentage of Malibu Moon’s top runners excel in two-turn races and are capable of competing at elite levels in classic-distance races. Champion Declan’s Moon’s Grade 1 win came at 1 1/16 miles; Orb won the Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles and the Kentucky Derby at 1 ¼ miles; and Grade 1-winning females Life At Ten and Devil May Care are a couple of additional examples of Malibu Moon’s success with two-turn runners.
Noble Moon also receives a significant dose of stamina from his female family, which has produced North American Grade 1 winners Malibu Prayer, Insight and Swagger Jack as well as European Group 1 winners Sequoyah, Listen, Dolphin Street and Saffron Walden.
Noble Moon’s dam (mother), grandam (maternal grandmother) and great-grandam (maternal great-grandmother) all won races at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. His dam, Mambo Bell won a 1 1/8-mile race at Saratoga Race Course and his great-grandam, Belladora, won the 1979 Poinsettia Stakes by 10 lengths going 1 1/8 miles at Hialeah Park.
Combine Noble Moon’s high cruising speed with a pedigree featuring an abundance of stamina, and the result is a 3-year-old who should have no trouble as the distances get longer on the Triple Crown trail this season.