StandardBRED breeders & owners association of New Jersey

Representing the drivers, trainers, caretakers, breeders and owners of New Jersey

64 Business Route 33

Manalapan, NJ 07726

Phone: 732-462-2357

Fax: 732-409-0741

Reminders:

2023 RACE DATES

MEADOWLANDS

January 6th - August 5th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 6:20 pm

 

Sunday Race Dates

January 22nd & January 29th

Post time 12:30pm

 

Hambletonian Day August 5th

Post Time 12 Noon

 

September 1st - September 9th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 6:20 pm

 

October 20th - December 30th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 6:20 pm

 

Freehold

January 6th - May 27th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 12:30 pm

 

September 1st - September 9th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 12:30 pm

 

September 14th - October 14th

Thursday, Friday & Saturday

Post Time 12:30 pm

 

October 20th - December 30th

Friday & Saturday

Post Time 12:30 pm

MCDUFFEE REFLECTS ON BELLA BELLINI’S PAST AND FUTURE
 
— Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager

HIGHTSTOWN, NJ — January 18, 2023 — Wherever David McDuffee goes, people want to talk about Bella Bellini. Even with the number of successful horses McDuffee has had in the past, he considers the two-time Dan Patch Award-winning trotter the most popular he’s ever owned. The fact McDuffee bred her makes it all the more satisfying.

Over the past two years, the Nifty Norman-trained Bella Bellini has hit the board in 36 of 38 races, winning 20, and earned $2.04 million. In December, she became the fourth female trotter this century to win a Dan Patch Award at ages 3 and 4, joining Atlanta, Ariana G, and Stroke Play.

Only nine female trotters in history have won Dan Patch trophies in three different years, and the question that might be on the minds of Bella Bellini’s fans this winter is whether the 5-year-old mare will take aim at becoming the 10th.

The answer, McDuffee said, is not simple.

“I do want to race her, but unfortunately for trotting mares there aren’t many races,” McDuffee said. “That makes it more difficult. Obviously, she’s a very valuable mare. It would be exciting to breed her and get some offspring; that’s definitely on the table.

“But right now, I’m leaning toward trying to put together some kind of a program that makes sense. All horses only have so many races in them. I’m not sure how we’re going to approach the year.”

In 2022, there were eight Grand Circuit events for trotting mares older than 4: the Armbro Flight, Six Pack, Steele Memorial, Dayton Oaks, Allerage, Breeders Crown, TVG championship, and Miss Versatility Series. There were 12 Grand Circuit races for male trotters older than 4, and it is not uncommon for the top female trotters to take on the boys in those open stakes.

“There are some stakes races for the mares, but they are the same days as the opens,” McDuffee said. “That eliminates half of the opportunities that you might have to race a horse (against the mares).

“I would like to see them consider creating more opportunities by maybe racing the opens on different dates than the races for the mares. It doesn’t mean we would always go, but you would like to have the opportunity. I’m not afraid to go against the boys, but it’s not something you want to do all the time. But they race for more money, and that’s another factor.”

Last year, Bella Bellini faced male rivals in three Grand Circuit races. She won the Hambletonian Maturity (restricted to 4-year-olds) and Caesars Trotting Classic and was third in the Cutler Memorial. She also faced the boys in two invitationals, finishing third in the Sebastian K and fifth in the Robert Miecuna.

Her other victories last season included the Breeders Crown Mare Trot, Steele Memorial, Six Pack, and TVG Series championship for female trotters. She also captured the Graduate Series final for 4-year-old mares.

For the year, she won nine of 19 starts, hit the board nine more times, and earned $936,702. Her money total was the fifth highest in history for a trotting mare based solely on purses earned in North America.

“She had a great year,” McDuffee said. “She had to race the boys probably more times than you would ideally like to do, but she was up to the task. It was an exciting year, for sure. I don’t know if I could pick out one race and say it was better than the others. They say it all comes down to the Breeders Crown, and the Breeders Crown was a pretty special race.”

Bella Bellini, a daughter of stallion Bar Hopping, became the first female trotter in eight years to win a Breeders Crown as a 3-year-old and transition to the older ranks and win the Mare Trot at age 4. The previous horse to accomplish the feat, Bee A Magician, was campaigned by an ownership group that included McDuffee.

In addition to her Breeders Crown win at age 3, Bella Bellini’s other victories included the Hambletonian Oaks, Matron Stakes, and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. She earned $1.11 million.

“She’s put together an impressive resume the last two years,” said McDuffee, who co-bred and raced Bella Bellini’s mom, Bella Dolce, and raced her Dan Patch Award-winning grandmother, Pizza Dolce. “I’m proud of her. She’s a neat horse. She wasn’t particularly impressive as a 2-year-old. I probably wouldn’t have kept her if I hadn’t had so much success with the family. Somebody was looking out for me.”

And now everyone is looking out for Bella Bellini, who at the moment is enjoying her offseason at Peninsula Farm in Kentucky.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever been associated with a horse that’s had as big a following as she has,” said McDuffee, who was the sport’s 2021 Owner of the Year. “I can’t go anywhere without somebody asking me about Bella Bellini or telling me how they love to watch her race. I’ve had a lot of good horses in the past, but I’ve never had one like that. It’s special.”

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