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Barn Babe looks to NYSS championship
Sunday, September 16, 2012 - By Bill Heller for the Agriculture and New York State Horse Breeding Development Fund

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A closer look at the eight New York Sire Stakes divisional leaders and their biggest threats in the $1.8 million Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway September 22nd (fourth of eight parts).

Two-Year-Old Filly Trot

The Leader: Barn Babe, a daughter of Cash Hall, out of Baby’s Momma, by Muscles Yankee, owned and trained by Steve Pratt.

Saying Barn Babe gets individual attention from owner-trainer Steve Pratt would be an understatement. She gets all his attention. “This is my only horse,” Pratt said. “It’s just her.”

Pratt, who is based at Batavia Downs, is perfectly happy with one horse. “I’m winding down,” he said. “I’m getting up there. I’ll be 66 soon and I like bass fishing. My wife, Nancy, is going to retire at the end of this year. She’s an investigator for the County Social Services.”

Barn Babe could delay their retirement. She has been a model of consistency, a rare trait for two-year-old trotters. She’s had four wins, three thirds and a pair of seconds in nine starts.

Last Friday night at Yonkers, Barn Babe thrust her nose past Fifty Shades to win the first of four $72,000-plus NYSS divisions in 1:59.2. “I thought she was second,” Pratt said the next afternoon. “She won by two inches. Last week, I got beat by that other filly two inches for second money at Saratoga.”

Barn Babe has clinched the top spot in the NYSS standings with 299 points.

Pratt is justifiably proud of his filly: “She can leave; she can go first-over. She’s just a race horse. This crop of fillies is the best they’ve had in years. At Saratoga, the track record was broken eight times. It’s a real tough crop.”

So tough that Barn Babe has only gone off the favorite once in her last eight starts. At Yonkers, she was 4-1; Fifty Shades was the 3-5 favorite. “Every time she’s won, she’s paid double figures,” Pratt said.

Pratt won big-time when he selected Barn Babe at the Morrisville Yearling Sale last year. “I bought her for $5,000,” he laughed. “I only buy one a year. I’m just small potatoes. Last year at the sale, I had it narrowed down to four, three colts and her. She was stuck at $3,000.” So Pratt got her for $5,000. She’s already made nearly $110,000, with her biggest race, the NYSS Final, still ahead of her.

“By January 15th, I knew she was a good one,” Pratt said. “It was just going to be `How good?’ In May, I said she may be the best I’ve had. And I’ve won the NYSS Final with Turnpike Taylor. He was second at two as a trotting colt, and won it at three (in 1993).”

As with any two-year-old, Barn Babe should keep getting better. “She’s the real deal,” Pratt said. “She’s a gamer. She loves to race. She was that way training. You can tell the difference.”

John Cummings Jr. has been Barn Babe’s only driver. “He’s done a very good job,” Pratt said. “When possible, I like to use a driver who’s going to be there every week. With trotters, that’s very important.”

What’s important to the other top two-year-old filly trotters in the state is making the Final. You Want Me (212), Isabella Gal (188), Crazy Grigio (180), Lady Riviera (175), Royal Malinda (162) and Fifty Shades (161) are well positioned. Behind them are Lola De Vie, (147) Order By Credit (129), Crazy About NY (124).

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