Deborah Greene and Hamilton Smith’s Luna Belle proved she was a force to be reckoned with as a 2-year-old last year and has only continued to do so with her second stakes victory at 3 when taking the $100,000 Wide Country by three lengths on Saturday, Feb. 19 at Laurel Park.
Breaking from the inside post in a field of eight, Luna Belle trailed in last as early leader Sandy’s Garden, racing just ahead of Beneath My Stars and Buff My Boots, set opening fractions through a quarter-mile in :23.11 and a half in :46.24. Sandy’s Garden continued to lead as they turned for him, while Luna Bella moved out and found a spot to break through down the center of the track, powering ahead of a late surge from She Is Wisky to finish the seven-furlong test in 1:24.71. Sandy’s Garden finished third, four and a half lengths behind She Is Wisky.
“For the first five-eighths of a mile I was [worried]. She was dead last and it looked like she got in a little trouble around the turn and [jockey Denis Araujo] was kind of wiggling his way around there a little bit,” trainer Hamilton Smith said. “But, once she got clear she came running like she has in her past races.”
The daughter of Great Notion has improved her overall record to 9-4-1-2 while amassing $246,570.
Bred by Greene and Smith, along with Greene’s late father Fred Greene Jr., Luna Belle picked up her third straight stakes win following the seven-furlong Maryland Juvenile Filly Championship in December, which she won by two and three-quarters lengths, and the six-furlong Xtra Heat in her 3-year-old debut in January, which she dominated by six lengths over Buff My Boots.
“I wish my dad was here. I miss him, but this is an incredible ride and I’m enjoying the heck out of it,” Greene said.
Luna Belle had finished fourth in her stakes debut in the Maryland Million Lassie in October, and less than a month later was runner-up to Buy the Best in the six-furlong Smart Halo Stakes.
She made her first three starts at Colonial Downs, the first two on turf. She finished seventh of 14 in her debut last July before picking up a third in early August. She broke her maiden in her third start and first on the main track, winning by six lengths as she finished the six-furlong maiden special weight in 1:09.89.
Taking on allowance company in her final prep before her stakes debut in on Maryland Million day, Luna Belle finished third to Sparkle Sprinkle and Sweet Gracie at Laurel in September.
Luna Belle is the fourth winner of five starters for her dam Heavenly Moon, Fred Greene’s homebred daughter of Mojave Moon who has produced seven foals. Luna Belle is her dam’s first stakes winner and a half-sister to stakes-placed Moon Virginia (Jump Start), The Poser (Bandbox) and Chinquapin (Orientate).
Heavenly Moon has a 2-year-old Great Notion colt named Run Bucky Run, a yearling Bourbon Courage filly named Little Engine, and was bred to Golden Lad for 2022.