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Bella Bellini rebounds; Altar impresses in Crown trot elims

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini won her $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination for 3-year-old trotting fillies on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 23) at The Meadowlands — but Altar, the winner of the other elimination, went over a second faster.

Now 9-for-16 for the season but coming off two close second-place finishes, Bella Bellini was sent off as the 3-5 favorite from post seven in a field of 10, and driver Dexter Dunn got her in sixth as the three horses to her outside all blasted away. Herculisa bypassed the three-hole to the :27.4 quarter and went by Adirondack; You Ato Dream was soon on the attack and made the lead near the half in :56. Bella Bellini moved outside entering the far turn behind the cover of Donna Soprano, but when that one came up flat, she had to tip three-deep at the 1:24.4 three-quarters. The daughter of Bar Hopping was powerful through the lane, chewing up ground to the lead with ease, and went on to win by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:52.4.

Herculisa put in a big rebounding mile from a break in the Filly Futurity to take second; 124-1 shot Chablis, one of the outside leavers, came through for third, ahead of You Ato Dream and Shirley Goodness.

Bella Bellini is owned by breeder David McDuffee; she is out of the top mare Bella Dolce, a daughter of Pizza Dolce, whom McDuffee also raced with great success.

Trainer Richard "Nifty" Norman continued his fantastic season, and he won this Crown division in 2013 with Horse of the Year Bee A Magician. While he wasn’t thrilled with Bella Bellini's cover, he indicated that “she only needs a little cover to set up her late move.”

Altar, who was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in this elimination after two stakes wins at Lexington, left from post seven in the field of nine and eyed the three-hole as pacesetter Amazone Duharas approached the :27.1 quarter. But Yannick Gingras bypassed the tuck and sent her to the lead nearing mid-backstretch, passing the half in :55.4. The victorious daughter of champion racehorse and sire Muscle Hill sped things up to a 1:23.2 three-quarters, then still was strong in a :28 quarter to complete a 1:51.2 mile 3-3/4 lengths ahead – and three-fifths of a second faster than the Championship record for this division set by Next Level Stuff last year.

Iteration and Splash Blue Chip, who sat third and fourth much of the mile, angled out for room in upper stretch and closed for second and third, respectively; Anoka Hanover, out the mile from an outer post, did well for fourth, with Amazone Duharas lasting for the last qualifying spot.

Altar ran her record to six for 11 this year, with the homebred’s lifetime earnings going to $219,373, with another $325,000 possibly awaiting another seven days hence. Gingras has won this division of the Breeders Crown three times, while “trainer Takter” has also worn this Crown three times – Altar’s trainer Nancy hopes to set out on the road to match her father Jimmy’s triple in this classification.

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