“I figured if he does well I look like a genius -- which is usually never said with my name. I’ve been called a lot, but never a genius.”
Joe Bellino was uncertain whether newly acquired pacer Polak A would be competitive in the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series, but he made the Australian seven-year-old eligible for the event before the horse ever set foot in the country.
After watching Polak A win his first two starts in the series, Bellino is enjoying the decision.
“I had a feeling,” Bellino said about Polak A, who was purchased for an undisclosed amount two months ago and is owned in partnership by Bellino, F Bellino & Sons LLC, and Frank Bellino. “Before we got him, I told my wife to make him eligible to the Levy. I made that payment just on a hope."
Last week, Polak A fought off challenges from multiple-stakes-winners Michael’s Power and Foiled Again to capture his Levy division by a neck in 1:52.4. In the opening round, Polak A won by a neck over Take It Back Terry in 1:52.
“I would have been happy with hitting the board, or a fourth or a fifth, just to know we could go with them,” Bellino said about last week’s race against Michaels Power and Foiled Again. “But once he’s on the front, he’s hard to get past. He’ll let people get to his eye, but he doesn’t like to be passed. That’s what’s most impressive.”
Polak A, who arrived in the U.S. in mid-February, is a son of Pacific Fella - Capture A Million and won 17 of 75 races and $219,652 in Australia. The horse is named after Richard Polak, who was a promising junior driver in Australia before suffering severe injuries in a training accident in 2007. Polak was in a coma for several months and is now confined to a wheelchair.
Polak co-owned Polak A’s full brother Schinzig Buller, who was a Group One winner in Australia. Polak A is trained by Tony O’Sullivan, who is a native of New Zealand.
“Tony always wanted some horses from where he’s from, down in Australia and New Zealand,” Bellino said. “I liked (Polak A) a lot when I saw his replays, and Tony liked him a lot. Both of us liked him a lot, so we took a shot. We were hoping he was going to be an open horse, or a high non-winners (condition). Tony is just doing a great job with him. He got him acclimated to America, which is very hard from what I hear.”
Bellino recently bought another pacer from Down Under, New Zealand-bred Reuben Brogden, but for now is focused on Polak A. On Saturday, the horse is in the third of four Levy divisions and will again face Foiled Again and Michael’s Power.
Polak A is tied with fellow series unbeatens P H Supercam and Beach Memories for the top spot in the Levy standings. The six-week event concludes April 25.
“He’s going to race this week and we’ll probably give him next week off and see how it goes from there,” Bellino said. “He’s a workhorse. People seem to like him. He’s something new. We’ve been lucky.”
To view the entries for Saturday's card, click the following link: Saturday Entries - Yonkers Raceway.
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.