by Brian J. Mazurek, for Buffalo Raceway
HAMBURG, N.Y. --- Barn Bella returns to Buffalo Raceway on Sunday afternoon (June 25) in the New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old filly trotters and she'll be seeking redemption at the half-mile oval.
Last year's 2-year-old Sire Stakes champion, Barn Bella broke stride turning for home at Buffalo Raceway and finished out of the money. a rare occurrence in her brief 15-race career. But it's been more feast than famine for Barn Bella as she has won 12 times. In her other three attempts, she has been totally off the board.
"This will be her toughest race of the year on Sunday with the tight turns," Barn Bella's co-owner and trainer Steven Pratt of Corfu, N.Y. said. "Buffalo Raceway is my home track and I support them. I've adjusted a few things on her for a half mile track and don't anticipate any problems come Sunday."
Drawing the four hole, Barn Bella (Conway Hall-Bravissima) is tabbed as the heavy 3-to-5 morning line pick in the first division worth $58,000. Jeff Gregory, a native of nearby Churchville, N.Y., will handle the driving duties. It is scheduled as the fifth on the 10-race card that begins at 12:30 p.m.
Barn Bella, a winner of $350,005 lifetime, arrives on a 10-race win streak including a 1:51.3 mile victory in the $228,250 Empire Breeders Classic at Vernon Downs last week. That mark tied the track record set by Check Me Out.
"She had a brutal race last week at Vernon," Pratt said. "She got parked in 26.1 to the first quarter but still trotted home in 27.0. I would say 99 percent of other horses couldn't have done that."
The bad news for others is the fact Pratt believes she'll only get better. "She's just a monster. She's as game as any that I've had including Barn Doll. There's no bottom on her. (Drivers) Jeff Gregory and Jimmy Taggart Jr. each said after Barn Bella's last races that 'there is still plenty left in the tank.'"
With the impressive credentials thus far, Pratt said he along with co-owners Nancy Pratt and The Purple Haze Stables have been offered 'big money' for Barn Bella but there's currently a 'not for sale' sign on her.
"I am content with her and I am enjoying this. She's so easy going, quiet and relaxed." He added, "Barn Bella doesn't train, she just jogs. She knows what to do when she gets behind that starting gate though. It's all business with her."
Pratt stated that Barn Bella will stay on the New York Sire Stakes circuit for the rest of the year but they might supplement her in the Breeder's Crown in October. "That's a pretty big nut to supplement her into that but I truly believe she's one of the top three filly trotters in the country."
The rest of the field trying to spoil the homecoming of Barn Bella includes Maewegonow (Charlie Norris), Mamora Bay (Sam Schillaci), Reverend Nanny (John Cummings Jr.) and Mighty Surf (Jim Morrill Jr.).
The second division, slated as the seventh race, will carry a purse of $59,100. It appears to be a wide-open event with Amber Ella (Jason Bartlett) getting the slight nod off the rail at 2-to-1.
Amber Ella (Chapter Seven-Blushed) finished a distant fourth behind Barn Bella in the Empire Breeder's Classic last week at Vernon Downs. She did win four races in eight tries in 2016, piling up $139,193 in earnings. Amber Ella has yet to find the winner's circle in three chances this year, but does have a pair of second place finishes.
Billie Blue (Conway Hall-Lightfoot) starts from the six spot and is a 3-to-1 pick on the morning line with driver Chris Lems. She's won twice in five appearances thus far in 2017 including a 1:55.4 effort last week at Vernon Downs.
Others ready to do battle in the leg are Deli-Delite (Drew Monti), Scarey Karie (Phil Fleut), Chapter Too (Jeff Gregory) and Heels On Wheels (Morrill Jr.).
The card will also have a pair of $15,000 Excelsior A Series races and a $6,600 Excelsior B Series contest.
For more information including the latest news, race replays, results and upcoming promotions, go to www.buffaloraceway.com