WILKES-BARRE PA – The maiden Bar Hopping filly Bella Bellini, making her first start since October 10, equaled the fastest clocking by any three-year-old trotter in North America this year, 1:54, when she won her $17,500 division of the final preliminary of her Bobby Weiss Series action Tuesday afternoon at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Living up to her pedigree (in addition to her sire, her dam is the $700G+ winner Bella Dolce, she a daughter of champion and producer of three $500G+ winners Pizza Dolce), Bella Bellini had the lead before the :28.3 quarter, backed the half off to :58, then sprinted to hit the three-quarters in 1:25.3 before drawing clear to win by 15¼ lengths for driver Dexter Dunn, trainer Nifty Norman, and owner David McDuffee, who has had a long involvement with this family.
That previous mark for fillies of 1:54.3 had been established 32 minutes earlier at Pocono by another Dunn/Norman/McDuffee horse, the Muscle Hill filly Eazy Pass. Owned by McDuffee in partnership with Melvin Hartman and Diamond Creek Racing, Eazy Pass also proved uncatchable on the lead, and was seven lengths clear at the finish to run her Weiss record to 2-for-2.
Prospects for a sweep for Dunn/Norman and a second win for Team Eazy Pass were dashed when Rebel Girl, a winner in her only previous Weiss outing, was scratched sick. Taking advantage was another daughter of Bar Hopping, Nancy Bar, who rode in the pocket then edged favored Lexa Hanover to break her maiden in 1:58 for driver Fern Paquet Jr., trainer Rob Harmon, and owner Tom Haughton.
So Nifty Norman has three fillies undefeated in this section of the Weiss, but only the double winner Eazy Pass (the only double winner this section produced) garnered enough points to make the provisionary list of top point winners, which reads: Alpine; Etra De Vie; Eazy Pass; Nancy Bar; P L Olivia; Lexa Hanover; Frankly My Dear and Trip Sevens (tie); and Orange Zest. Two horses, Kayla’s Playmate and R Speed Of Light, will decide AE1 / AE2 by luck of the draw if needed. Bella Bellini and Rebel Girl are tied for 16th.
The pairing of driver Mark MacDonald and trainer Ray Schnittker, along with driver Jason Bartlett, visited Victory Lane three times on the afternoon.