In business, life and horse racing there’s no such thing as a sure thing. And that’s what makes the game so exciting. Once people get a taste of their horse winning, there’s nothing sweeter.
And such is the story of Pinnacle Racing Stables and Stein Racing’s Bella Vincenza. While she is not your typical “rags to riches” story, or even a nothing-to-something horse, Bella Vincenza’s saga is both inspiring and a great example of why patience is a tremendous virtue in this game.
Six years ago, the partnership had a shining moment with a Breeder’s Cup champion named Musical Romance. According to Managing Partner and Florida HBPA Board Member Adam Lazarus, that high-profile win helped garner interest in his partnership and horse ownership, helping them to develop a strong South Florida stable.
Bella gets off to a good-looking start
“We bought Bella Vincenza at auction as a 2-year-old in training. She began her career with Stanley Gold, and she was a good filly. She ran in two stakes races and finished fourth in one of those races, then we transferred her to Kathleen O’Connell in the late fall of her 2-year-old campaign,” said Lazarus.
Adam and the partnership were very high on Bella Vincenza and optimistic about her 3-year-old races. But, as sometimes is the case, things do not go as planned.
Bella Vincenza’s form went sideways. She went from running in allowance races to $25,000 claimers, plummeting all the way down to $16,000 claiming races. Bella was not looking so Bella anymore.
In January 2018, Adam decided they should enter her in the mix sale at OBS. Trainer O’Connell suggested they drop her to $8,000 on the dirt to see what she could do. Lazarus reached out to Juan Leyva, now an assistant trainer in California, who had worked Bella Vincenza for Pinnacle late in her 2-year-old season. He said, “Adam, this filly can run on the dirt.”
The lowest level for turf at Tampa is $16,000, so the decision was made to drop her to $8,000 non-winners of 3 on the dirt. She wins.
Even still, Adam wanted to sell the horse. The idea was to stop the bleeding and get about $12-$15,000.
Don’t give up on her
However, O’Connell was adamant and strongly suggested to Adam and Pinnacle’s partners, Stein Racing, “Do not sell the horse. She is worth a lot more than $12,500.” The idea was to continue to see what she can do on the dirt.
It’s the classic tale of the trainer telling the owners, “Don’t give up on your horse. She’s got heart!”
Since that time Bella Vincenza has been on a roll. “She’s about a length and a half away from winning eight races in a row,” said Lazarus.
Her most recent win was in the Added Elegance Stakes, a black type race. “What made her win most impressive was that the fractions early on were slow and uncontested. Which was totally against the race bias,” he continued.
“I have to give Kathleen O’Connell and her staff a lot of credit. They’ve kept Bella in razor sharp form which is not easy to do with a filly. And for the last six months she’s been amazingly consistent,”
South Florida will remain Bella’s stomping ground
The plan is to keep Bella Vincenza here in South Florida and run in the claiming crown at the end of the year.
“I think in this case it’s best to take what’s in front of you. We’re going to take advantage of the Florida-bred program we have here in South Florida.” Lazarus concluded.
Interested in ownership? Here are some tips from Adam
“If you are considering getting involved in a partnership, it’s important to meet the people. Come out on a Saturday or Sunday and talk to them. Get some references. You can even come to a race and see what the paddock is all about. Mingle with some of the other partners and learn as much as you can, in our case, what Pinnacle Racing is all about.”
“The bottom line is get involved, ask a lot of questions and gain your own encyclopedia of horse knowledge.”
Adam’s final piece of advice is this, “The game has a lot more downs than ups. So, it’s important to be realistic, and stay on an even keel. That’s when you can really savor your wins.”
Go here to learn more about Pinnacle Racing and their current offerings.