09/16/2015 12:01PM

Mohawk: Muscle Baby Doll faces true test in Elegantimage Final

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Muscle Baby Doll has eight wins in nine 2015 starts.

The moment of truth for Muscle Baby Doll has arrived in the form of Saturday’s C$404,000 Elegantimage final at Mohawk Racetrack. In race nine, the Frank Bellino and Sons-owned 3-year-old trotting filly will take on divisional leader Mission Brief with a chance to make her mark in the division.

Picked from the Iowa Fair Circuit, Muscle Baby Doll may come from humble beginnings, but the Bellinos, who purchased the filly as a 2-year-old, have made it a practice in recent years of reaching outside the norm for their horses. While some focus solely on buying the best yearlings, they have found a good mix between high-priced babies and diamonds in the rough from Canada, Down Under and the Midwest.

“I’ll take anything. If I like it, I’ll buy it. I don’t care if they are racing in a parking lot,” joked Joe Bellino, who manages the Bellino’s horse business.

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Perhaps due to a shortage of quality horses, Bellino was quick to point out that it is getting harder to find the right horses at good prices. “It is getting out of control,” said Bellino of the market. “Even the Iowa horses that used to sell for $12,500 or $15,000 are now at $30,000. At $15,000 you have a chance to make some money, but it is much harder at $30,000.

“I do my best when I buy horses that are already developed and have qualified once or twice,” said Bellino. “It is hard to take one off a big trainer and improve. My father always says, ‘you can’t improve off a guy like Ron Burke. He is too good’. The best you can hope for is to do as good as he is doing.”

In Muscle Baby Doll the Bellinos have stumbled upon a filly that has the potential to be special. The daughter of Muscle Mass-Have You Ever has proven herself versus the best in Ontario as the waiting game began until she was eligible for a race against open company. While amassing a 9-8-0-1 record in 2015, she has only ventured outside of Canada once and romped on that evening at the Meadowlands in 1:52 to win the Duenna by nearly seven lengths.

Muscle Baby Doll was a professional winner in her Elegantimage elimination last Friday (Sept. 11). With regular driver Doug Mcnair in tow, she bided her time behind cover and sprinted clear under a few taps of the whip to win going away by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:56 over a sloppy track.

As spectacular as the Tony O’Sullivan trainee was, Hambletonian runner-up and 2014 champion filly Mission Brief was even more impressive one race later. Yannick Gingras sent the Ron Burke-trained prodigy right to the front and she cruised home 15 lengths the best in a sparkling 1:54 1/5.

“Our chances of winning are probably slim and none,” confessed Bellino. “Crazier things have happened. I’m very high on my horse and think she is the second best 3-year-old filly trotting filly in harness racing, but we’re running into the best filly trotter ever.”

Muscle Baby Doll will start from post two while Mission Brief leaves from post four in a race that also features Hambletonian Oaks winner Wild Honey. Trained by Jimmy Takter, Wild Honey was second behind Muscle Baby Doll in her elimination, the first time she has faced that young lady.

Win or lose, Bellino will be making a rare trip to Canada to watch his stable star in action. It is a strange occurrence since Bellino only makes occasional trips to watch his horses race and he admittedly doesn’t love his chances of winning on Saturday.

“I’m going up to see Sydney Weaver for the first time ever,” said Bellino of the well known 15-year-old harness racing enthusiast. “I don’t get up to Canada very often so I also want to see all the people who work with my horses in person.”

Muscle Baby Doll still has plenty on her plate after Saturday, including the Ontario Gold final on October 10 at Woodbine and the American National at Balmoral. As of now Bellino is even planning on supplementing her to the Breeders Crown, with eliminations at Woodbine the weekend of October 16.

With over $206K earned in 2015, Muscle Baby Doll has more than paid her way and seems likely to stay put with the Bellinos despite some discussion of other options. “I’ve had some heavy-duty offers, but I’m pretty sure we are going to keep her,” said Bellino.

The Elegantimage has a scheduled post time of 10:22 p.m. on a card that features four other major stakes. The richest of the lot is the C$700,000 Canadian Trotting Classic for 3-year-old trotters and features Hambletonian winner Pinkman.

Post time for the 13-race card is 7:25 p.m.

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C$404,000 Elegantimage Final - Race 9

POST HORSE LISTED DRIVER
1 ELEGANT SERENITY R.MAYOTTE
2 MUSCLE BABY DOLL D.MCNAIR
3 YOURE MAJESTIC S.FILION
4 MISSION BRIEF Y.GINGRAS
5 SMOKINMOMBO A.MERRIMAN
6 DANIELLE HALL J.JAMIESON
7 WILD HONEY J.CAMPBELL
8 MAGIC MARKER T.TETRICK
9 BEE THE QUEEN R.ZERON
10 AMOUREUSE HANOVER M.SAFTIC
11AE JUANITAS FURY P.MACDONELL

 

Peter Tavolacci More than 1 year ago
Good Luck To The Bellino's