Longshot Spectacular Moon coasted behind a torrid pace duel, then flew down the center of the stretch to win the $150,000 Astarita Stakes (gr. II) for 2-year-old fillies by a neck on a sloppy Belmont Park track Sunday. The victory, under Jorge Chavez, keeps her record perfect through four races. The Astarita victory was worth $90,000 for owner-trainer John Alecci. It was her first race outside of Maryland and her first outside of the claiming ranks. Spectacular Moon was the longest shot on the board at 28-1 in the field of nine juvenile fillies, completing 6 1/2-furlongs in 1:17 over a sloppy track. "I didn't want her on the lead, but when I saw her so far back, I thought the van and the paddock might have taken a toll on her," Alecci, who was not in attendance, said by telephone. "We wanted to see how much class she had, so we tried this. She'll come back to Maryland tonight and we'll let her tell us when she wants to run next. I would like to gradually stretch her out."The winning stretch run was set up by a hot pace battle along the backstretch between Lovethatlegend (Richard Migliore), favorite Ana's Lady Bird (Jerry Bailey) and Forty Moves (Pablo Fragoso) that posted fractional times of :21 2/5 and :44 2/5. All three finished off the board. "I thought I'd be sitting two or three lengths off the lead early, but they were going fast and she couldn't keep up," Chavez said. "I had a lot of horse at the top of the stretch, but wasn't sure if she was going to get there. I knew I was going to get up 50 yards out. She ran a big race."Feline Story, who took the lead at the sixteenth pole under Edgar Prado, finished second. Smokey Glacken, who took the lead at the top of the stretch under Jose Santos, held for third. Spectacular Moon – a juvenile Florida-bred bay filly by Migrating Moon, out of Doctor Danielle (Spectacular Bid) – now has career earnings of $128,190.
Spectacular Moon was claimed out of her first two starts at Laurel, for $25,000 when she broke her maiden at Laurel on Aug. 2, and when Alecci took her for $40,000 on Aug. 21. Alecci retained her after she ran for a $50,000 tag at Pimlico on Sept. 13. "The guy that lost her the first time she was claimed, Edmond Gaudet, doesn't claim many horses back and he told me he loved her and thought she was worth the money to claim for $40,000," Alecci said. "When we ran her back, she won easy and I didn't think she liked the mud that day."Spectacular Moon Paid $58, $17.40, and $8.90. Feline Story returned $4.50 and $3.30. Smokey Glacken's show price was $4.10.Lovethatlegend, 7-5 choice Ana's Lady Bird, Forty Moves, Freeroll, Cosmic Wish and Ms. Trick Or Treat followed.(Chart, Equibase)