09/25/2013 4:32PM

Yonkers: Market Rally, Barn Babe could give Cummings a NYSS championship

Mike Lizzi
Market Rally drew post five in the $225,000 Allerage Farm Trot.

New York Night of Champions at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday night is a celebration of a program that has grown to epic proportions. Eight $225,000 finals are slated for the best and brightest two- and three-year-old performers of both gaits. What’s impressive about this year’s finalists is that they are a cross section of large stables and small stables coming to Yonkers from all parts of the Empire State.

John Cummings, Jr., one of the best drivers in western New York, has a chance to capture two of the rich events with a pair of trotting fillies that have excelled on the circuit this season and enter Saturday’s fray primed for action.

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Market Rally, a juvenile filly by Cash Hall, was just a $7,500 yearling purchase but has blossomed this year to earn six-figures. With three wins in nine starts, she’s moved from an ordinary performer to the head of the class. She drew post five in the third of 13 races on the Yonkers program.

“We knew something was pinching her early on,” said Cummings. “Before she raced at Batavia (August 16) in the Excelsior we had her shoulder joint worked on. That turned her around completely.”

On August 26, Market Rally started from post seven in a $72,193 New York Sire Stakes event at Yonkers. She was sent off at odds of 100-1. She overcame the post and the field, trotting a final quarter in 29 2/5.

“I knew she would be good that night,” said Cummings, who obviously failed to circulate the information to the punters.

Market Rally has been better than good since then. But since she had raced primarily in the “B” or Excelsior division, she was behind in the NYSS point standings. The filly drew post seven in her next two starts in the “A” ranks and finished second on both occasions, first cutting the pace at Saratoga and then from behind at Vernon.

Her prep for the Night of Champions took place on September 19, where she captured the $78,629 division from the pole position at decreased odds of 3-5. The 2:00 performance was a career best.

“She can trot for three-eighths of a mile with any two-year-old out there,” said Cummings.

While post position five seems to suit the driver fine, he had hoped that the Chuck Sylvester-trained Maud Blue Chip would have drawn inside of him rather than next to him in post six.

“I always like to have a target and if she was outside of Chuck’s filly it might make a difference. But I’m happy where we start from,” said Cummings.

Megan Wilson trains and co-owns Market Rally with Cummings playing a significant role in assisting. He is excited about Saturday night, hoping to return to the Night of Champions winner’s circle for the first time since he scored with Winbak Dimensions in the two-year-old pacing class in 2005 at Saratoga.

“If she races well on Saturday we’re going to send her to the Breeders Crown,” said Cummings.

Barn Babe was the top point earner in the NYSS division for three-year-old trotting fillies, but Cummings is a bit more apprehensive of her chances on Saturday.

“She was really no good getting around the turns at her home track (Batavia) last week,” Cummings said. “I talked to Steve (trainer Pratt) and hopefully we can get her on point for this week.

Cummings conceded that Barn Babe is probably better suited for the bigger tracks, but with $225,000 riding in Saturday’s fifth race, she’s going to have to manage to get around half-mile track.

“She raced well from the eight-hole at Yonkers earlier this year,” said Cummings of the third place on July 8. More recently, Barn Babe scored in a $92,625 division on September 5 at Yonkers.

“She’s been a solid, consistent horse for the last two years,” said Cummings.

Like Market Rally, Barn Babe is a daughter of Cash Hall, a stallion that appears to be fitting in rather nicely. Barn Babe cost $5,000 as a yearling and has returned an incredible $325,357 to owners Steve and Nancy Pratt.

The three-year-old trotting filly final is a most competitive event, with Bouncing Bax in search of her fifth straight New York Sire Stakes victory for trainer Jim Raymer. She’ll start from post four. The daughter of Credit Winner actually lost her first nine races as a three-year-old before a late-season streak put her into the final.

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Lola De Vie, an early-season star and earner this year in excess of $330,000, drew post five after having to qualify early Tuesday at Plainridge to be eligible to enter the final. Brian Sears picks up the drive for trainer Chris Ryder.

First race post time for NY Night of Champions is 7:10 p.m.