by Victoria Howard
Unlike many horsewomen, this month’s superstar was not born into a harness racing family, nor did she have experience working with horses.
Call it luck, good fortune, or unpredictable phenomenon, but 25 years after moving from California to the East Coast, Bell has experienced more thrills, champions, and major stake winners than most of us ever will in the sport.
“Growing up my parents would take us to Santa Anita every year to watch the thoroughbreds. Harness racing was new to me until 1994 when I attended the races at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and met my future husband, Myron Bell. The following year we got married and harness racing has been a major part of my life since,” Stephanie said.
“I really enjoy the sales aspect of the business and find that knowing all the different parts of the sport makes racing that much more interesting. Over the years, I have learned so much from several Hall of Fame trainers that have pointed out proper conformation and answering my questions. The best way to learn anything is to ask questions from the best and that is what I did. Today, I have my own opinion on looking at a horse, but try not to butt in on the final decisions.
“I am spoiled for I’m usually looking at horses with superior pedigree, so most of them are very good looking. I like to look at their eye and head first, then I have a certain type of body I prefer, and proportion is important of course.
“Another thing I love to do is go to the farms every year to look at the babies. Myron and I go with our trainer and partner, Tony Alagna.
“I can’t say enough great things about Tony and I think his horses reflect that. He is meticulous and wants everything to be perfect.
“We have had so many great horses, such as Bedroomconfessions, Tall Drink Hanover, and of course, the one and only Captaintreacherous.
“Being a partner of Captaintreacherous is beyond our greatest expectations. He was the first serious horse Myron and I owned, along with Tony.
“Captaintreacherous had so much charisma and was really ‘the peoples horse.; When we syndicated him at the beginning of his 3-year-old year so many of the breeding farms had a piece of him.
“Tony had a camera installed in his stall so anyone could watch him day or night. When he raced so many people would come to watch him, thus we had some of the biggest crowds in the winner’s circle.”
With a smile Stephanie adds, “Captaintreacherous has catapulted us into the breeding business. We always had broodmares, but now that we can breed them to Captain it has become a game changer.
“We started out buying weanlings or yearlings with pedigrees we believe in, like On The Catwalk and Turnoffthelights. We have bred two million-dollar winners: Bedroomconfessions and River Shark and today we own 10 broodmares.
“Breeding a great horse is our ultimate goal and Myron and I will keep trying until we do. I hope it is a son or daughter of Captaintreacherous.
“Another very, very important person to me in harness racing is George Segal — owner of Brittany Farms. Myron has worked for George for many years, but the fact that George has always included me is very generous of him.
“I have learned a lot spending time with George. Brittany Farms has always been one of the best farms in the sport and George is one of the most respected men. Myron and George’s collaboration is special and they have a great relationship: both business and personal.
“Because of George I have gotten to see great horses up close, such as Real Desire, Glidemaster, American Ideal and American History, and we are extremely excited for George’s horse Perfect Sting to return as a 3 year-old in 2021.”
Do you have any possible superstars this year training at Sunshine Meadows?
“Presently we have seven Captaintreacherous 2 year-olds in training that we bred, and a few more we purchased. Their names are: Boudoir Hanover, Don’t Fence Me In, Captain’s Muse, Isn’t It A Lovely Day, Arya Deo, Captain Mike Deo and Sky Captain.
“We are also bringing back our 3 year-olds Notorious Pink, Commanding Officer, Rockyroad Hanover, Simon Says Hanover, Keystone Catalyst, and a few others.
“We do have some diversity as we are training 3 trotters this year. One is a Walner colt named Tnt Bluechip that we bred with Bluechip Farms, two is Westminster, a Chapter Seven colt, and three is a Father Patrick filly named More Than Ever that we own with Brittany Farms.
“When Myron and I permanently moved to Florida we were elated our trainer Tony Alagna decided to winter train at Sunshine Meadows and we would get to watch our babies train.
“We have been going to The Deck (located in front of the barn) at Sunshine Meadows ever since we met. Alagna’s main barn used to be Ronnie Gurfein’s, and we would go to watch Ronnie train.
“Being the perfectionist Tony is, when he took over that barn he rebuilt the deck, which sparked the On The Deck movement as it’s known today.
“It’s great when out of town owners and friends visit. Normally, we would serve bagels and refreshments, making it a friendly atmosphere for everyone. Unfortunately, with the pandemic this year many people have not travelled and for those who still visit to watch the horses, social distancing is practiced. We are not serving refreshments, but when this is all over The Deck will be back as the place to come to in the winter to watch the babies train and hopefully get to watch another world champion in the making.”