Local Adorabella will look to return to winning form in Saturday's $50,000 MGM Buckeye Distaff, an invitational for top veteran Ohio-sired pacing mares.
While she had little racing luck in the Ohio Sires Stakes for trainer Christi Noble, she was sent to trainer Jody Riedel where she immediately reeled off two straight victories. When she didn't continue her success, Riedel suggested that Sam Schillaci give the mare a shot.
"She [Adorabella] is Ohio-bred, so when things weren't clicking, Reidel suggested to the owner that they send her to us," said Jodi Schillaci.
Schillaci would only have the mare for three starts in 2019, hitting the board once, but the husband/wife duo knew they had seen something special. Reidel would give Adorabella another shot against top talent; however, it was clear she did better against conditioned horses.
Adorabella returned to Northfield Park in December 2020, scoring her first win against conditioned company on Jan. 2, 2021. Over the next couple of weeks, the Schillacis would see the daughter of Pet Rock blossom into one of the Midwest's classiest mares.
For the next year and a half, it would be Adorabella against the world, dominating Open company in many starts. Those efforts shocked both Jodi and her husband, Sam.
"She had a killer year and a half. For what she started out being, she has definitely overachieved for us," said Schillaci. "Her owner Vincent Costa Jr. bred and raised her. He always knew she was something special, it just took her some time to put it all together."
Adorabella competed in the inaugural edition of the MGM Buckeye Distaff, finishing a solid third behind Snobbytown and Screamin Demon. Adorabella hasn't been as sharp this season, and while Schillaci is slightly nervous about the race on Saturday, she believes that their talented mare is starting to show glimmers of her old self.
"She is starting to act like her old self, she's been really good this week and we have our fingers crossed that it carries over into Saturday night," said Schillaci.
While some mares can be tough to work with in the barn, Schillaci says she is great to be around and loves her snacks. For the Schillacis, who have raced horses in both the Ohio Sires Stakes and New York Sire Stakes, the pair say if they can pull off a victory on home soil Saturday, "it would be one of the greatest victories of our career, especially for our owner who raised her and has always believed in her."
Competing against Adorabella (Aaron Merriman) on Saturday will be McMarkle Sparkle (George Napolitano Jr.), Love Me Hill (Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), Ocean Music (Tyler Buter), Dragons Lucky Lady (Brett Miller), Violets Rainbow (Matt Kakaley), Cold Hearted Gypsy (Chris Lems), Smothastenesewisky (Billy Davis Jr.) and Shesonebadmomma (Chris Page).
The MGM Buckeye Distaff will go as Race 13 on the power-packed program and feature a $25,000 estimated 20-cent Super Hi-5 pool.
MGM Northfield Park will kick racing off at 6 p.m. and feature Charity Night presented by the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association. Charity Night will feature nine different charities, each having the opportunity to race for a donation to their respective group.
(MGM Northfield Park)