09/24/2014 10:06PM

Scioto: Bell Flower vies for perfect year in Sire Stakes Championship

Conrad Photo
Bell Flower is the 4-5 morning line favorite in her Ohio Sire Stakes Championship.

If you live outside of Ohio, the name Bell Flower probably doesn’t mean very much. But the undefeated 2-year-old pacing filly goes behind the gate in one of eight $200,000 Ohio Sire Stakes Championships on the Saturday Scioto Downs card that also features the Jim Ewart Memorial for the top older pacers.

Bell Flower, just an $8,000 yearling purchase at the Blooded Horse Sale in Ohio last year, has blossomed into a winning machine in her rookie year of racing. The daughter of Fly Fly Buckeye-Our Lady Countess has made seven successful trips to the track, all against Ohio-sired foes.

While Bell Flower’s streak is impressive, trainer Jim Arledge, Jr. knows that Saturday is what matters most. The filly was a six figure purchase and the $100,000 winner’s share would go a long way to showing a profit.

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“We just want to keep her that way for one more start,” said Arledge of the perfect record.

With Ohio just now returning to prominence due to the addition of gaming revenue, the caliber of horse is still far short of states with top Sire Stakes programs like New York and Pennsylavnia. The easier competition has allowed Bell Flower to win with ease.

“Every (Sire Stakes) class is pretty weak in Ohio right now because the numbers are down breeding-wise,” said Arledge about the quickly changing situation in Ohio. “She is definitely the best filly in Ohio and she really hasn’t been tested.”

That test seems unlikely to come Saturday against competition she has defeated nearly every week and it might not come down the road, either. According to Arledge, although he feels she can probably pace with at least the second-tier of the Grand Circuit filly pacers, Bell Flower will make her final start of 2014 in the O.S.S. Championship.

“I think she can compete with them, but not the top ones,” said Arledge, who added that Bell Flower will likely stick to the Ohio circuit as a sophomore as well. “We probably won’t venture out. She can make plenty of money in Ohio.”

Bruce and Patricia Soulsby along with Dean Davis own Bell Flower, who will start from post seven with Chris Page in the bike during the fifth race on the 16-race card.

While Bell Flower is clearly his best chance of picking up a win, Arledge also has three others competing in the $200,000 finals. The veteran trainer listed Chipps Starr in the eighth race as his best chance of getting a championship double.

“He can be as good as any in there if he behaves,” said Arledge. “He is a class colt. If he stays trotting he’ll be in the top three.”

In the ninth race Arledge sends out Upfront Clays Boy. That one had a rough day in his most recent start according to the trainer, but has had a better week and could “get a check” with a good effort. Majesty Dream in the tenth represents his longest shot of the group. “If she stays trotting, I think she can get a check.”

With purses on the rise in Ohio, Arledge couldn’t be happier. “It’s nice to not have to travel as much as I used to. We’ve fought through tough times and it’s nice to have a chance to make some money,” he said.

Post time for the Scioto Downs card is 6:30 p.m., with an all-championship-finals $7,500 guaranteed pick eight starting in race 4 and a $5,000 guaranteed pick four kicking off in race 9. The $200,000 Ewart Memorial featuring top older pacers Sweet Lou and Foiled Again is carded as race 13.

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