By Tim Bojarski, for Batavia Downs
Two of the best 3-year-old trotting fillies on the Grand Circuit will be at Batavia Downs on Wednesday afternoon (Sept. 6) in a division of the $108,200 New York Sire Stakes (NYSS). Barn Bella and Celebrity Ruth will go head to head in the second $59,100 division (carded as race four) of the NYSS in what looks to be a heavyweight battle for the ages with possible track record implications.
Barn Bella (Conway Hall-Bravissima) comes into the race as the second richest ($329,584) and third fastest (1:51.3) 3-year-old trotting filly in North America. She has scored 10 wins in 12 starts this year, making breaks the only two times she hasn’t finished first.
Having campaigned exclusively in New York State this year, Barn Bella has won five legs of the NYSS as well as the $228,250 Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) at Vernon Downs in 1:51.3, which was her lifetime best effort.
In her last start on Aug. 18, Barn Bella was racing older male trotters in the overnight Open at Tioga Downs and made a break in the first turn while everyone was jockeying for position. This will be her first start back in 18 days and she looks to rebound with a big effort in the short six-horse field.
Barn Bella will be a big hometown favorite as all her connections are from only a few miles of Batavia Downs. Co-owner/trainer Steve Pratt, co-owner Wanda Polisseni and driver Jeff Gregory all call Batavia Downs their “home track” and will converge there with high expectations for their star performer.
Barn Bella has drawn post six and has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite.
Looking to spoil the homecoming is Celebrity Ruth (Archangel-Celebrity Obsession) who comes in fresh off a win in the $119,010 Hudson Trot final at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday (Sept. 2).
Celebrity Ruth was unraced at two but has made up for time lost this year. She has won three legs of the NYSS as well as the afore mentioned Hudson Trot. She also took a major check finishing second to Barn Bella in the EBC. In all, her five wins and five seconds have put $280,938 in her bank account this year. She has a lifetime mark of 1:53.4 taken at Tioga Downs but has been race timed in 1:52.1 at Vernon.
Trond Smedshammer trains Celebrity Ruth and has regular driver Jason Bartlett up once again and the pair will depart from post two, listed at 3-1.
In the first $59,100 division (carded as race three) Mamora Bay will start at Batavia Downs only four days after competing in the Hudson Trot as well where she finished third behind Celebrity Ruth.
Prior to Saturday, Mamora Bay (Chapter Seven-Giulie Bi) had been off since Aug. 1 as she was trying to get over the effects of a virus she has been dealing with all year, as reported by her trainer Sam Schillaci in a recent interview. With that said, she did look good qualifying twice at Northfield Park getting ready for that big stake.
In the Hudson, Mamora Bay got away sixth and was forced to come third-over in a dull outer flow and had to overcome a strong front-runner, the rain and a breaking horse around the last turn but still closed well to finish third, beaten less than four lengths.
With $66,331 on her card so far in 2017, Mamora Bay has only one win in six starts this year and her connections are hoping she gets back to her form of last year now that she is back in action.
Sam Schillaci is aboard once again and has been named the early favorite at 9-5 leaving from post three.
Looking to challenge for the spoils is Maewegonow (Deweycheatumnhowe-Mauresmo) who is the highest money earner in this leg with $91,220 banked. But she also only has one NYSS win to her credit.
Maewegonow has shown versatility racing on the front end as well as from behind and in this short field could be successful with either strategy. She has hit the board in seven out of 11 starts and took a lifetime mark of 1:55.3 in her last outing at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs in an overnight event.
Charlie Norris trains and drives Maewegonow who has drawn post two and is tabbed at 5-2.
The current track record for 3-year-old trotting fillies is 1:57.2 set by Cowgirl Hall in 2012 and matched by Bouncing Bax in 2013.
There are also two divisions of the $15,000 Excelsior A series on Wednesday that are programmed as races six and seven.
Post time for the first race Wednesday is 5 p.m.