Bella Bellini brilliant in Steele

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Bella Bellini and Dexter Dunn broke the Dr. John R. Steele Memorial stakes record with a 1:49.4 win in the $145,000 event for trotting mares at the Meadowlands on Saturday (Aug. 6).

The Bar Hopping mare watched her foes battle early as Atlanta took the lead and cut a :26 first quarter. When Dovescry took to the outside to challenge the 2018 Hambletonian winner in a short duel before getting the lead and reaching 1:22.1 while attempting to go the rest of the way in front.

Bella Bellini saved ground during the first three panels as Atlanta shifted to the outside sharply to take on When Dovescry down the stretch while Kenziesky Hanover, Weslynn Quest and Next Level Stuff were destined to fight for fourth.

Bella Bellini, who won four races in a row since late June before a third-place finish behind Atlanta in a Miss Versatility event on July 30, was full of trot and surged past Atlanta and When Dovescry, winning by two lengths in 1:49.4.

When Dovescry held second over Atlanta; Kenziesky Hanover won the three-mare tussle for fourth behind them.

Richard “Nifty” Norman trains Bella Bellini for owner-breeder David McDuffee.

Driver Dunn said he was confident throughout the mile and was smiling mid-race:

“Going down the back, I had a little bit of a smile on my face [because of the fast pace],” he said. “She was so sharp post parading today I knew she had her A-game on. And once those fractions set out for her, she’s so fast at the end of her mile.”

McDuffee said, “I never thought I’d have a trotter under 1:50. It’s unbelievable. I mean, wow. She’s doing a hell of a job for us.”

Bella Bellini paid $4.20 to win.

It was the mare’s 17th win in her three years of racing. She hoisted her lifetime earnings to $1,626,375.