MILTON, October 29, 2022 – Harness racing’s newest two million dollar winner is the four-year-old trotting mare Bella Bellini who overcame a flat tire before the race to capture the first of eight Breeders Crown finals at Woodbine Mohawk Park on a beautiful fall evening in Campbellville on Saturday night.
Eight of the best trotting mares faced the gate in the $472,500 contest which saw Next Level Stuff and Tim Tetrick lead the parade by the opening quarter in :27. Atlanta, the richest performer in the race with $3.6 million on her card, came out from third to challenge for Yannick Gingras and was comfortably on top at the :55.3 half.
In the first up position as they hit the 1:24.1 three-quarters was When Dovescry followed by Bella Bellini. As they trotted for home Dexter Dunn gave Bella Bellini open road and she responded with an impressive victory in 1:51.1.
Atlanta finished a brave second. Tonight’s race was her final career start on Canadian soil as she is to be retired at the end of her 2022 campaign. The seven-year-old Chapter Seven mare won many of the top races during her illustrious career, but the Breeders Crown title eluded her. In a total of six appearances her best finishes were a second tonight and in last year’s Crown final as well.
Doug McNair got Refined up for third while When Dovescry held on for fourth for Dave Miller and Next Level Stuff took fifth.
Owned by breeder David McDuffee of Florida, Bella Bellini is trained by Nifty Norman who admitted the flat tire on his mare’s race bike before the post parade had him a little rattled.
“We didn’t have the spare, which is my responsibility and Dexter gets a little nervous when he doesn’t have his own bike,” he explained. The setback obviously didn’t bother Bella in the least.
“She was picture perfect, just the way you want. She’s very special, she’s a beautiful animal, so nice to be around, just a really, really nice horse,” added Norman who is quite familiar with Bella’s family having also trained her dam, the top Kadabra mare Bella Dolce who earned over $750,000 during her career.
A daughter of Bar Hopping, Bella Bellini was notching her second straight Crown title having won last year as a three-year-old at The Meadowlands. This was her 19th lifetime win and eighth from 17 tries this year. She has $925,000 earned in 2022 and just over $2 million lifetime.
Heather MacKay, for Woodbine Communications