Luna Belle rolls to fourth straight stakes win in Beyond the Wire in March at Laurel Park
After having her five stakes win streak snapped in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2) last month at Pimlico Race Course, standout 3-year-old filly Luna Belle is enjoying some well-earned time off.
Campaigned by Deborah Greene and Laurel Park-based trainer Hamilton Smith and bred by Smith, Greene, and her late father, Fred Greene Jr., Luna Belle has spent her vacation at Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, Md., owned and operated by fellow Laurel trainer Katy Voss.
“She came out of the race fine. We couldn’t find anything wrong with her, that’s why I kept her three or four days before I did anything with her. She didn’t break good and [jockey Denis Araujo] decided to settle in behind horses, and when he asked her to do something she didn’t respond. That was the end of that,” Smith said Sunday. “She kind of told me it was time to give her a rest.”
Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly of 2021, Luna Belle debuted last July and took three tries to break her maiden before graduating in late August at Colonial Downs. The daughter of Great Notion raced at least once a month leading up to the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan, her first loss as a 3-year-old.
Leading up to that race, her graded-stakes debut, Luna Belle won the Maryland Juvenile Fillies last December and the Xtra Heat, Wide Country, Beyond the Wire, and Weber City Miss – all at Laurel – to open 2022, the latter earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.
“We’re very proud of her. She’s done much more than I expected,” Smith said. “The last race, I thought she would do better than she did, naturally. She trained good over at Pimlico. I galloped her a few days leading up to the race and she handled it fine. Everybody thought she looked good on the track, which she did.
“She didn’t lie down as much as she usually does here, with people coming up all the time. I don’t think it was a case where she was upset, she just didn’t lie down as much,” he added. “Down here, as soon as she gets in the stall after she gallops or whatever she’d lie down and take care of herself in that respect.”
Smith anticipated Luna Belle rejoining his Laurel string later this month, but has no specific plans in mind. Fourth by a length in last year’s Maryland Million Lassie following a troubled trip, the 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million program Oct. 22 at Laurel will be a target.
“I was going to give her three weeks to a month before I bring her back into the routine. She’ll be running again late summer at some point. I’m in no rush. She’s got the Maryland-bred stuff in the fall and there’s a few races in August to look at,” Smith said. “I’m not going to rush her back. She started last July and she’d run every month since then up to the Black-Eyed Susan. I’m glad we got her a break.”
Petition Prayer Nearing Return
Smith worked Mens Grille Racing’s filly Petition Prayer Sunday morning as she prepares to make her 3-year-old debut. The Maryland-bred daughter of Divining Rod has not raced since finishing sixth in the Selima last October at Laurel.
Petition Prayer had won two straight races heading into her stakes debut, a 5 ½-furlong maiden special weight on the dirt in late July at Pimlico and an open allowance going the same distance four weeks later at Colonial Downs. She is nominated to the $100,000 Stormy Blues for 3-year-old fillies sprinting 5 ½ furlongs on the Laurel turf June 19.
“I nominated to take a look at it. She hasn’t run since last fall, so it would be her first race back if I was to use it and that’s asking quite a bit,” Smith said. “She was disappointing [in the Selima] but she came out of it with a little problem so we had to give her some time off. We’ve got her back and she’s pretty much ready to run. I worked her this morning, using it as a last work for a couple spots next week where she could go in. I think she’s going to prefer the grass over the dirt, myself, but that remains to be seen.”