Recuperating Luna Belle Targeted for Return in 2023

October 28, 2022

Luna Belle triumphant in the Beyond the Wire March 15 at Laurel (Maryland Jockey Club)

Safeen Rewards Backers with Determined Maiden Win Thursday

LAUREL, Md.— Luna Belle, Maryland’s champion juvenile filly of 2021 and a four-time stakes winner at 3, is recuperating in South Carolina from bone bruising but expected to resume her career in 2023 as a 4-year-old.

Owned by Deborah Greene and trainer Hamilton Smith and bred by Smith, Greene and her late father, Fred Greene Jr., Luna Belle has not raced since having a five-race win streak – all in stakes – snapped in the May 20 Black-Eyed Susan (G2) at historic Pimlico Race Course.

Luna Belle got some time off and was brought back into training at Laurel Park with an eye on last weekend’s 37th Jim McKay Maryland Million program, where she would have been a prominent player in the $100,000 Distaff.

Upon returning Luna Belle was sharp in her first two timed breezes, both bullet half-mile moves in 47.60 seconds Sept. 1 and 48 seconds Sept. 8. In her most recent work she went the same distance in 49.40 seconds Sept. 15.

“We had her breezing and breezed her three times, and after the third breeze she showed a little discomfort. We couldn’t find anything on the X-rays here, but we sent her to New Bolton and they said she had some bone bruising,” Smith said. “So, we just turned her out and let her be a horse for a while, and hope everything goes well next year.”

Earlier this month, Smith sent Luna Belle to the Elloree Training Center, owned and operated by his older brother, Frank ‘Goree’ Smith Sr.

“They sent me a video of her running around, playing,” Smith said. “She’s not sore on it, but if you tried to train her on it she would be. That’s why we’ll give her time to strengthen the bone structure a little bit.

“She’s on the shelf for a while,” he added. “We’ll bring her back in the spring and hope for the best, hope she has a good year next year.”

A troubled fourth by a length in the Maryland Million Lassie and runner-up in the Smart Halo before capturing the Maryland Juvenile Fillies last December to clinch her 2-year-old title, Luna Belle began this year with wins in the Xtra Heat, Wide Country, Beyond the Wire and Weber City Miss at Laurel, the latter earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan.

Luna Belle’s most recent victory came in the Weber City Miss Stakes.

Luna Belle had at least one start for 11 straight months dating back to her debut last July, a schedule which Smith felt may have caught up to her in the Black-Eyed Susan, where she went off as the fourth choice in a field of 13 sophomore fillies. The winner, Interstatedaydream, went on to win the Indiana Oaks (G3).

“She was doing great after her little layoff. I just turned her out after the Black-Eyed Susan. She ran like she was a tired filly. She had a start every month through May, and it was tough competition all the time, so it took a lot out of her,” Smith said. “She had a great year, she did well. We’re very proud of her.”

Smith was also proud of the effort of Luna Belle’s older half-brother, The Poser, who ran third in the $150,000 Maryland Million Classic for the second consecutive year. The homebred has placed in 17 of 31 career starts including four in a row with four wins and $273,463 in purse earnings.

“He ran big. He tries all the time. The last few races have been real good. He’s got to step up now that his little sister’s on the shelf, so we’ll see how it goes,” Smith said. “There’s a couple more spots for him before the end of the year, and hopefully he’ll continue on being consistent and then we’ll give him a month or two off after that. He’s still got an allowance condition left, so if that race comes up in the right time frame we’ll use that and worry about the stakes later.”

Safeen Rewards Backers with Determined Maiden Win Thursday

Safeen breaks her maiden Thursday at Laurel (Maryland Jockey Club)

Gavin Fergus and Rebecca Hillen’s 2-year-old filly Safeen, racing for just the second time, battled with Zipadoo through the stretch before putting her stubborn foe away approaching the wire for a three-quarter-length maiden special weight win Thursday at Laurel Park.

Ridden by Feargal Lynch for trainer Eddie Kenneally and sent off as the 1-5 favorite in a field of 10, Safeen ($2.60) covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.22 over a firm Fort Marcy turf course. First-time starter Zipadoo was a clear second over late-running Silent Story.

Long shot High Donna and Zipadoo, a Wertheimer & Frere homebred daughter of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper, scrimmaged for early supremacy before High Donna emerged with the lead down the backstretch and held into the far turn when Zipadoo ranged up alongside. Safeen, settled in fourth along the rail, was tipped out by Lynch midway around the turn to challenge Zipadoo and the two engaged at the top of the stretch to well inside the sixteenth pole.

Bred by Shadwell Farm, Safeen is a daughter of War Front out of the Dynaformer mare Tafaneen. In her only prior start, she was second by a nose in a one-mile maiden special weight Sept. 13 at Kentucky Downs to Sabalenka, who came back to be fourth in the Jessamine (G2) at Keeneland.

In Thursday’s other maiden special weight, Joseph Allen’s Byrdie Howe ($6) was a front-running winner of her fourth career start in the 1 1/16-mile event for fillies and mares age 3, 4 and 5. With go-to rider Forest Boyce up for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, the 4-year-old daughter of Uncle Mo – who cost $400,000 as a 2019 yearling – completed the distance in 1:46.29 over the firm Fort Marcy layout.

Juveniles also took center stage in Thursday’s featured Race 8, a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance sprint won by Hillwood Stable’s Post Time ($6), a Maryland-bred son of Grade 1-winning multi-millionaire Frosted, who hit the wire in 1:25.30 over a fast main track. Though still running green through the stretch, it was the second win in as many tries for Post Time, both with Eric Camacho aboard.

Camacho, a former jockey who exercises horses for winning trainer Brittany Russell, won his first race since 2016 when Post Time captured his Oct. 7 debut at Laurel, which was just the third mount in six years for the 38-year-old winner of 785 races between 2004 and 2016.

Maryland Jockey Club Press Release

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