William Gierkink’s Moonlit Beauty made every pole a winning one as she defended her title in Sunday’s $126,200 Classy n’ Smart Stakes, at Woodbine.
Moonlit Beauty, a seven-year-old daughter of Perigee Moon trained by John LeBlanc Jr., captured the 2012 edition of the Classy n’ Smart with a similar front-running trip, but was let go at odds of 8-1 as she set out to defend her crown in the 1 1/16-mile ‘Poly’ stake.
Under a perfect ride by Davy Moran, Moonlit Beauty set moderate splits of :25.18, :51.01 and 1:15.02 with Waitinginthewings and Silent Star stalking her early foot.
Reconnect and I’m a Kittyhawk moved into contention through the final turn but there was no catching Moonlit Beauty who opened up a one-length lead at the top of the lane and finished strongly stopping the clock in 1:45.13. Silent Star held on for place over I’m a Kittyhawk.
Moran followed his conditioner’s specific game plan all the way to the finish line.
“She was really tough today,” said Moran. “In fairness, John gave me perfect instructions. He told me what to do at every pole and everything I did, even whatever way to put my hands on her, up on her neck, to get her to pick up she responded for it.”
LeBlanc Jr. was pleased to see the chestnut mare, who posted a pair of bullet works prepping for the Classy n’ Smart, find the winner’s circle for the first time in 2013 after a particularly difficult effort last time out in the Belle Mahone when last of six.
“In the Belle Mahone she scoped with a little mucus afterwards,” said LeBlanc Jr. “We didn’t get enough out of the turf race prior (to the Belle Mahone) so we needed some good preps going into this. I had a lot of confidence in her, we just needed to have her ready for it.”
Moonlit Beauty banked $75,000 in victory, while improving her record to 10-4-2 from 39 career starts.
She returned $19.30, $11.30 and $7.10, pairing with Silent Star ($12.30, $7.50) for a $175.50 (3-7) exactor. A 3-7-6 (I’m a Kittyhawk, $12.80 to show) triactor was worth $4022.10. Reconnect completed a $1 Superfecta (3-7-6-4) worth $13,829.