One-Mile Test for 3-Year-Old Fillies Among Five Stakes Worth $450,000
LAUREL, Md. – Deborah Greene and Hamilton Smith’s Luna Belle will attempt to stretch her talent beyond a sprint for the first time as she goes after a fourth consecutive stakes victory in Saturday’s $100,000 Beyond the Wire at Laurel Park.
The 34th running of the one-mile Beyond the Wire for 3-year-old fillies is among five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on an 11-race program, co-headlined by the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds.
Named last month as Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2021, Luna Belle was bred by Greene and her late father, Fred Greene Jr., and is based with Smith at Laurel. The Great Notion filly is two-for-two at 3, winning the six-furlong Xtra Heat Jan. 29 and seven-furlong Wide Country Feb. 19 by nine combined lengths.
The Beyond the Wire is a steppingstone to the 1 1/16-mile Weber City Miss April 16 at Laurel, a ‘Win and In’ qualifier for the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
“The way she ran her last race going seven-eighths, it looks like she can handle the mile pretty easy. The distance is something I’ve been hoping she can do all along. I prefer a route horse over a sprinter any day,” Smith said. “The way they’ve got the program set up here it’s really good for a young horse. You start out going three-quarters, then seven-eighths, then go a mile and right on up the ladder. It gives a young horse a chance to mature and everything.”
Luna Belle had to overcome some traffic trouble in her most recent start, where she broke a step slow and then had to steady in tight quarters leaving the backstretch. Jockey Denis Araujo weaved his way between horses to the outside where Luna Belle unleashed a powerful kick to pass her rivals.
“She ran into trouble the last time going into the turn and [Araujo] had to take her up two or three times. She had to overcome all that and still won pretty impressively,” Smith said. “That was, by far, her best race from what she’s done so far.”
Smith said they have been approached several times about selling Luna Belle, a filly who began her career with a pair of turf starts before breaking her maiden by six furlongs last August sprinting six furlongs in 1:09.89 on the main track at Colonial Downs, where Smith was leading trainer in 2021.
“When I first ran her on the dirt down at Colonial Downs and she broke her maiden running [1:09] and change, and I knew I had a filly that could really run,” Smith said. “Some people say that the track’s fast down there, but she still ran nine and change and for maiden 2-year-old to run like that I thought was pretty impressive.
“Deborah is having a lot of fun with her, and she’s had a lot good offers to sell, but she doesn’t want to sell. I’m right along with her,” he added. “She’s having fun and like she says, if you sell her you can get the money and try to go buy one and hope they’re as good as she is, so we might as well as have fun with the one we’ve got. So, that’s what we’re doing.”
Araujo, aboard for each race during the streak, rides back from Post 7 in a field of eight.
No Guts No Glory Farm’s homebred Mama G’s Wish is entered to make her stakes debut off four straight wins for owner-trainer John ‘Jerry’ Robb. She has won from 5 ½ to seven furlongs during her streak, all with stable rider Xavier Perez up, who gets the return call from Post 2.
“She seems to be on the improve pretty good here lately. She’s won four in a row and she’s as good as she can get right now so now would be the time to take a shot,” Robb said. “The mile I’m not sure about, but there’s no reason why she shouldn’t be able to go a mile.”
Robb leads Laurel’s winter meet with 21 wins, one more than Maryland’s five-time defending overall champion Claudio Gonzalez. Both are looking for their first stakes win of the year.
“Things have fallen right into place for us. I’ve had the right races go and the right type of racetrack each time,” Robb said. “A lot of horses were coming back fresh. It’s all just lined up in the stars for once. You’ve got to get it while you can because there’s going to come a time when you have to stop.”
Trainer Rodolfo Sanchez-Salomon entered the pair of Click to Confirm and Red Wine Time. Mi Patria Racing’s Click to Confirm was claimed for $25,000 last fall at Laurel and has hit the board in five of seven subsequent starts with one win, a third in the Nov. 13 Smart Halo and back-to-back seconds going one mile in her two most recent efforts. She also ran sixth to Luna Belle in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies in mid-December.
“She’s doing great,” Sanchez-Salomon said. “She’s been running her guts out lately going long, which is I think what she likes. That’s what she wants to do.”
J R Sanchez Racing Stable’s Red Wine Time will be making her first start since being claimed for $10,000 out of a 5 ¾-length debut win March 5 at Laurel, where she fell behind by a dozen lengths after a quarter mile and continued to trail the field through four furlongs before rallying.
“When I claimed that filly, a lot of people were going to go in for her and then everybody backed out. I went in myself and I got her. She was very, very impressive,” Sanchez-Salomon said. “I think I’ve got a nice filly. I just had to work on her. She had some back end problems but I think I’ve got her in the right spot.”
Angel Cruz is named on Click to Confirm from Post 6 while Red Wine Time will break from Post 5 with meet-leading rider Jevian Toledo.
A pair of horses shipping in from opposite directions will converge on Laurel for the Beyond the Wire. From South Florida comes Ha’ Penny, a maiden special weight winner last November at Gulfstream Park for trainer Joe Orseno that ran fourth in back-to-back stakes at Tampa Bay Downs to open 2022 – the seven-furlong Gasparilla Jan. 15 and one-mile, 70-yard Suncoast Feb. 12.
Horacio Karamanos gets the riding assignment from Post 3.
Blue Devil Racing Stable’s Diamond Collector makes the short trip from New York for trainer Carlos Martin. The daughter of Grade 1 winner Blame ran second in her two starts at 2 before breaking through with a front-running 4 ½-length maiden special weight triumph Feb. 6 at Aqueduct. She has yet to race beyond seven furlongs.
“This is a good test for her,” Martin said. “She seems like she’s improved from race to race to race and hopefully when we get her stretched out she’ll even be more effective. She doesn’t have a quick, quick turn of foot but she’s just got a real steady way about her and she’s bred to run on. We’re optimistic that with maturity and time that she’ll be a mile and an eighth, mile and a quarter-type filly that can maybe do both surfaces.”
Victor Carrasco will be aboard from Post 4.
Barak Farm’s She Is Wisky, beaten two lengths when second to Luna Belle in the Wide Country, her stakes debut; and Fortune Racing’s Candy Light, popular last out maiden special weight winner going one mile Feb. 24 at Laurel, round out the field.
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo of Luna Bell by Jim McCue/Maryland Jockey Club