Virginia-bred 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 three-year-olds.

The one mile, 70-yard Jerome will be contested on Saturday and serves 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, bred by the Estate of Edward P. Evans, 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.

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.

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