Luna Belle training towards return to action

Multiple stakes winner and two-time Maryland-bred champion filly Luna Belle, unraced in more than a year and without a timed work since late March, continues to make progress in her comeback.

Owned by Deborah Greene and Laurel Park-based trainer Hamilton Smith and bred by Smith, Greene and her late father, Fred Greene Jr., 4-year-old Luna Belle could return to the work tab mid-month and target a late summer/early fall campaign.

By Great Notion out of the Mojave Moon mare Heavenly Moon, Luna Belle began galloping in June at Laurel for Smith under his top exercise rider and her regular morning partner, James ‘Bobo’ Brigmon.

“She’s had a couple minor problems and we put her on the farm a couple times,” Greene said. “We’ve taken it slow. Ham’s been galloping her for about three weeks, so she should be ready for her first work in about two weeks. He likes to give them time. Bobo is always on her, and he said she feels like her old self.”

“She just wasn’t herself. She was okay, but she was just not herself,” she added. “I stopped by to see her [July 1] and she’s just a sweetheart. She was looking in my pockets for cookies. She’s addicted to those. But she seems to be bouncing around and having a good time. She likes to be on the track. Hopefully she’ll work and be ready late August, probably September to run again – if all goes well.”


Greene and Smith are remaining patient with Luna Belle, who made at least one start eight straight months and 10 of 11 between July 2021 and May 2022 with six wins.

“She deserves any rests she needs,” Greene said, “but she doesn’t really take to the rest. Every time I visited her at the various places, she’s been just much more dull. She’s much more interactive with you at the track. She just seems happier there.

Luna Belle
Luna Belle won the Weber Citty Miss. Photo Allison Janezic.

“I went out to a couple of the farms where she was and she was fine, but her personality wasn’t there. She likes it at the track,” she added. “She seemed real happy [July 1] and full of herself. Ham said whenever he walks her she’s playing and bucking and having a good time. That’s always a good sign.”

Luna Belle won once in her first five starts, finishing fourth by a length in the Maryland Million Lassie and second in the Smart Halo before securing her first stakes triumph in the Maryland Juvenile Fillies and was named Maryland’s champion 2-year-old filly.

Her win streak ultimately grew to five races, all in stakes, after capturing the Xtra Heat, Wide Country, Beyond the Wire, and Weber City Miss to open her sophomore season, the latter earning her an automatic berth in the Black-Eyed Susan (G2). Off to a slow start from outermost Post 13 in the Black-Eyed Susan, she was never in contention and wound up 11th.

Given time off after the Black-Eyed Susan, Luna Belle returned to the work tab in mid-August and breezed five times before being put away for the rest of 2022, but her accomplishments led to her being voted Maryland’s champion 3-year-old filly.

I look back and it’s like a dream. I was on cloud nine. It was an emotional experience for me because of my dad,” Greene said. “It was just exciting and I relive it a lot because I’ve got all those trophies lined up. I have a scrapbook and I go through the pictures. I guess sometimes it would be a letdown because it’s not been so great since her, but my dad was in the business for 50 years.

[WATCH: Ham Smith and Deborah Greene talk Luna Belle before the Black-Eyed Susan]

“I know what it’s like, and it’s full of ups and downs, but I don’t think you can get higher than that for me,” she added. “It really wasn’t a dream come true because I didn’t dream that high, but I had fun with it. We’ve still got more babies coming along, and you never know. You just never know, and that’s what I love about horse racing.”

Luna Belle’s lone work in 2023 was a half-mile move in 49.40 seconds March 31. Meanwhile her full brother, 3-year-old Run Bucky Run, launched his racing career May 4 and is winless in three starts. Most recently he finished third while facing older horses in a seven-furlong maiden special weight June 16 at Laurel.

“His first two races, of course, were not great but I think he’s coming into his own. I think he has the ability, he just doesn’t know it,” Greene said. “He’s getting the competitive spirit. I think he’ll do better in the future. We’ve got one more coming and the mare’s done great for us, just great. I can’t believe one mare has produced all these runners.”