Beyond the Wire quick hits: Luna Belle and everyone else

The $100,000 Beyond the Wire Stakes could set one or more sophomore fillies on the road to the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico May 20. The next step from here is the Weber City Miss in April, with that race a “win and in” event for the Susan, the biggest race for three-year-old fillies on the Maryland calendar.

The top pair from last month’s Wide Country are both slated to face the starter to headline the show. Our quick hits:

To the moon: On paper, the story of this race is Luna Belle versus everybody else. The Ham Smith trainee, the even-money morning line favorite, figured it out at the end of her two-year-old campaign and arrives here on a three-stake win streak, all with ease. This’ll be her first try beyond seven furlongs, but everything about her says that shouldn’t be an issue. She overcame a ton of trouble to win the Wide Country with ease, and though she’s named for the moon, this one might be a star. Smith co-owns her with Deborah Greene.

Quotable: “Deborah [Greene] 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,” Smith said. “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.”

Bombs away? On paper Red Wine Time (30-1) has absolutely no business here. She broke her maiden nicely last out, but that was at the bottom, $10,000 claiming level. She was claimed out of that race by trainer Rudy Sanchez-Salomon. So why mention her? Well, Sanchez-Salomon did something similar back in November, claiming Shake Em Loose out of a maiden win at the $16,000 claiming level, and then he turned around and ran him in a local stake. That turned out OK: Shake Em Loose won the Heft at 59-1.

Quotable: “I think I’ve got a nice filly,” Sanchez-Salomon said. “I just had to work on her. She had some back end problems but I think I’ve got her in the right spot.”

Drink up: She Is Wisky (6-1) was 52-1 in the Wide Country but rallied smartly to be a clear second, three lengths behind Luna Belle but clear of the rest. That was her second start with Lasix added, and today she makes her third start after a two-month break at the end of ’21 and beginning of ’22. The daughter of Lea ought to be fine with the added ground.

Penny for your thoughts: The Joe Orseno-trained Ha’Penny (8-1) was pretty well throttled last out when fourth in the Suncoast Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. But let’s not judge that one too harshly: winner Nest is 3-for-4, including a win in the G2 Demoiselle, and went off at 3-10 en route to a six-length win. This miss was just a couple out of second and figures to go off at less than 14-1 for the first time in her career.

Sweetness: Candy Light (10-1) is certainly bred to be a runner – a daughter of Candy Ride and out of a Pioneerof the Nile mare who’s a half-sister to Grade 3 winner and $700,000 earner Mississippi Delta – and she’s been bet like a runner, having gone off favored in three straight. Is she a runner? The jury’s out on that, but she did look good graduating by four lengths last time out.

Sparkly? Diamond Collector (9-2) cruised to a maiden score last out at Aqueduct and figures to get plenty of attention at the betting windows. But we’re inclined to look elsewhere: the runner-up in that contest was Laurel shipper Continentalcongres, who returned home to be throttled by Candy Light and is still a maiden after eight starts. At the very least, if you’re positively inclined towards this one, you also need to give Candy Light a long look.