03/20/2011 6:25PM

Gulfstream: German import La Luna de Miel goes from first-level allowance to graded stakes winner in Orchid

Adam Coglianese
La Luna de Miel, making just her second start since coming to the United States, wins the Grade 3 Orchid under John Velazquez.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -   La Luna de Miel has a German sire, an English dam, and a Russian owner.On Sunday, she became an American graded stakes winner for the first time when she rallied under a perfect ride by jockey John Velazquez to a one-length victory over 6-5 favorite Endless Expanse in Gulfstream Park’s $150,000 Orchid Stakes.

La Luna de Miel, a 4-year-old daughter of the German sire Monsun, ran twice in her native Germany before being sent in November to trainer Graham Motion’s winter headquarters at the Palm Meadows training center. She opened her U.S. campaign with a one-length victory under first-level allowance conditions here on Feb. 18 to punch her ticket into the Grade 3 Orchid.

“I was impressed with her first race, “ said Motion. “She was pretty tired after that race and I wasn’t going to run her back in this one because it was a little close but decided we couldn’t pass the opportunity, so we went ahead and took the chance.”

Unlike her U.S. debut when kept close to the pace, La Luna de Miel was able  to settle about a half-dozen lengths off the early leader Queen Martha, who set honest fractions of 24.71 seconds, 48.61, and 1:12.97 for the opening six furlongs over a firm course. La Luna de Miel advanced near the inside leaving the backstretch for the final time, split horses while continuing her rally into the stretch, overtook Giants Place near the sixteenth pole, edged clear, then maintained a safe advantage over the late-running Endless Expanse. Giants Play finished a tiring third. 

La Luna de Miel completed 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.76 and paid $19.80.

“My assistant David Rock deserves a lot of the credit for this filly’s success, he’s had her here for me all winter,” said Motion, who trains La Luna de Miel for owner Rashit Shaykhutdinov. “She’s a very honest filly. Johnny is riding great at the moment. I was hoping he’d be able to get her covered up. He gave her a great ride.”

Motion said he will point La Luna de Miel to Keeneland’s Bewitch Stakes on April 28.