3-Year-Old Filly Rolls By 3 ½ Lengths in One-Mile Stakes
LAUREL, Md. – Deborah Greene and Hamilton Smith’s Luna Belle made her first attempt at stretching out look easy, rolling to 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 was the fourth of five stakes worth $450,000 in purses on the St. Patrick’s Day weekend program, co-headlined by the $100,000 Private Terms for 3-year-olds.
Contested at one mile, the Beyond the Wire serves as a springboard to the $125,000 Weber City Miss April 16 at Laurel, which offers the winner an automatic berth to the $250,000 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) May 20 at historic Pimlico Race Course.
Bred in Maryland by Greene, her late father Fred Greene Jr. and Smith, Luna Belle ($2.40) was sent off as the 1-5 favorite in a field of eight and hit the wire 3 ½ lengths ahead of 15-1 long shot Candy Light in second. The winning time was 1:38.93 over a fast main track.
“She’s an incredible athlete in every way, shape and form. She’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal racehorse,” said Smith’s son and assistant, Jason. “She handled the mile beautiful.”
Luna Belle began her win streak in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies in mid-December to clinch champion Maryland-bred 2-year-old filly honors. She opened her sophomore season with victories in the six-furlong Xtra Heat and seven-furlong Wide Country, the latter her longest previous race.
Jockey Denis Araujo, aboard for all four races, positioned Luna Belle in the clear in third outside New York shipper Diamond Collector, who ran the opening quarter-mile in 24.19 seconds, and 50-1 long shot Click to Confirm. In her last start, Luna Belle found herself trailing the field at the same point and had to navigate traffic in the stretch to rally by two lengths.
“We asked him not to drop too far out of it early,” Smith said. “She likes to run a little bit closer, especially with that slow pace so it set up just about right.”
Luna Belle got into stride on the far turn and straightened for home in command after going six furlongs in 1:12.41 with Candy Light, exiting a maiden special weight victory Feb. 24, giving closest pursuit. She wound up 5 ½ lengths ahead of Click to Confirm in third, followed by Diamond Collector, She Is Wisky, Mama G’s Wish, Red Wine Time and Ha’ Penny.
“The game plan was to be a little bit closer than I was last time,” Araujo said. “Last time I was a little bit far back, but I think the speed and the distance change a lot. Running a mile or running seven-eighths or three-quarters is a big difference, but she still made it.
“Turning for home, she switched leads and she was gone,” he added. “I can tell you she’s an amazing filly. Now she’s won four races in a row, and not by accident. She showed so far she’s the best of them, so I can’t say much. She does it all herself.”
Run as the Caesar’s Wish through 2017, the Beyond the Wire was renamed to recognize the founding of an industry-wide initiative between the Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Maryland Jockey Club, Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland jockeys to facilitate safe and enriching placements for retired Maryland-based racehorses.
Maryland Jockey Club Press Release
Photo of Luna Belle by Maryland Jockey Club