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Barn Bella seeks to stamp herself as a divisional contender in 2018
Thursday, December 07, 2017 - by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

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Kim French
Columbus, OH --- While Ariana G has been dominating the division, there is another sophomore trotting filly that has quietly compiled her own impressive credentials while competing solely within the confines of the Empire State.

She has stopped the clock in 1:51.3, is a dual New York Sire Stakes champion and has placed $688,725 in the bank from 24 trips to the post.

She is none other than Barn Bella and when she returns from her winter vacation, one of New York’s brightest stars will perform on some of the sport’s greatest stages.

“She is just so game,” said Steven Pratt, her co-owner and conditioner. “And Jeff (Gregory) and Claude Huckabone Jr. (her drivers) have done such a good job with her. We will go ahead and race her on the Grand Circuit next year.

“I actually gave Moira Fanning from the Hambletonian Society a check for $62,500 to make her eligible for the Breeders Crown in the paddock at Yonkers on the evening of the New York Sire Stakes final. Jeff and I got to talking about it though all through the night and decided it had already been a long year. So we just gave her some time off and next week I’ll bring her and my other horses in to start getting them ready (for 2018).”

Mike Lizzi photo
Barn Bella has placed $688,725 in the bank from 24 trips to the post.

Purchased for $32,000 from the 2015 SUNY Morrisville Sale, Barn Bella is a daughter of Conway Hall and the SJ’s Caviar mare Bravissima. Owned by Pratt, his wife Nancy and Wanda Polisseni’s Purple Haze Stables, the filly has been nothing short of spectacular throughout her career.

With 18 victories to her credit and two track records on her resume at Tioga Downs as a 2-and 3-year-old, Barn Bella has been an imposing presence on the New York Sire Stakes circuit and was an overwhelming favorite on nearly every occasion she went to the gate.

Her career did not exactly begin with a bang, as the filly was sixth and seventh in her first two races in NYSS contests at Buffalo Raceway and Monticello Raceway last year. Barn Bella broke her maiden with a score in a $3,050 New York County Fair contest at Batavia Downs, then was sixth in her next engagement in the NYSS at Batavia Downs.

She returned on Aug. 5 at Tioga Downs to equal the track record of 1:55.2 with Huckabone in the sulky and reeled off five straight wins, including the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes final to close out her freshman campaign.

Barn Bella picked up right where she left off this year and collected six consecutive victories, with a tour-de-force effort in the $228,250 Empire Breeders Classic final on June 18 in a track record equaling performance (1:51.3) at Vernon Downs, before a fourth place finish at Buffalo Raceway in a NYSS race on June 25. Although the filly was defeated as the prohibitive public choice, she was extremely impressive and made up a tremendous amount of real estate in that event after making a costly break shortly after trotting away from the starting car.

“The only times she has been beaten were at Buffalo and Batavia when the turns may be a little tight for her and she broke,” Pratt said. “It’s not that she can’t handle a half-mile track as she has won at both Saratoga and Yonkers and we plan on taking her out to Delaware (County Fairgrounds) next year (for the Miss Versatility Series), but those two tracks might not be her favorite places.”

After the early miscue at Buffalo Raceway, Barn Bella trotted eight more pari-mutuel miles in 2017 with the only blemishes on her record the result of going off stride in an Open contest against the likes of world champion Wind Of The North at Tioga Downs and another break against Sire Stakes company at Batavia Downs.

The filly concluded her sophomore season with a second state championship on Oct. 14 and her connections are excited to see what she will accomplish in 2018.

“I think her best race was the Empire Breeders Classic,” Pratt said. “She had to leave from the nine-hole and was parked out in a first quarter that went in :26.1. But that didn’t seem to bother her as she just went on and tied the track record.

Jeff and Claude have both taken good care of her and never really extended her. She has always raced well within herself so we are looking forward to seeing how she competes against other horses next year.”

One horse she will not have to line up against is the formidable Barn Doll. The 5-year-old, who acquitted herself admirably against the best in harness racing and accrued $874,083, was also a state champion while residing in Pratt’s shedrow, but will begin her second profession this winter.

“I just received the call that she will be bred to Muscle Hill this year,” Pratt said. “So that is a good thing; we won’t have to race (Barn Bella) against her because Jeff would have to choose her (he is Barn Doll's co-owner).

We don’t want to take anything away from what Barn Doll has done as we have been so fortunate to have a horse like her, but we think Barn Bella might just be better. Horses like her just don’t come around all that often.”

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