Day At The Track

Bartlett discusses drives in $225,000 Finals

05:26 AM 15 Oct 2017 NZDT
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Jason Bartlett, harness racing
Jason Bartlett
Mike Lizzi Photo

YONKERS, N.Y. – Leading harness racing local driver Jason Bartlett is ranked number one in North America with $9.9 million in purse money won this season and third by wins with 497 victories. Just over $1 million of the 36-year-old reinsman’s earnings this season have come in New York Sire Stakes, making him the leading driver on the New York stakes circuit by earnings and his 24 victories top the win column.

Bartlett will drive in all eight of the $225,000 New York Sire Stakes Finals at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon (October 14). The rich races for statebreds are part of a $3.3 million card that includes the $1 million Yonkers International Trot, the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot, and the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace. Many of Bartlett’s contenders drew advantageous post positions and all but two are the first or second choice on the morning line.

“It’s been a really good year throughout the stakes races for me,” Bartlett said. “Hopefully we can cap it off with a good day. The draws were favorable for me. Good spots, good horses, the home track. Now it’s up to me not to mess up.

“I’m very grateful to all the owners and trainers for giving me an opportunity to drive all these nice horses,” he continued.

Bartlett gave his thoughts on all eight of his drives in New York Sire Stakes Saturday:

2-Year-Old Colts and Geldings Pace

CASUAL COOL (Post 3, 3-1 ML): The son of American Ideal is 5-for-9 this year with a pair of seconds and a third, good for $137,538. Bartlett drove in three of the colt’s victories, including a wire-to-wire win in NYSS from post one at Yonkers August 25. One of three sire stakes finalists Bartlett will drive for trainer Linda Toscano. Won his last start in the Simpson at Philadelphia October 1.

“Nice handy little horse, can race either way. By the looks of that field, we have options. The one to beat is inside of us and the other one to beat is in the eight hole, so we’ve got some options going into that race. (Linda) has had a good year in stakes races this year and all of her babies seem to have got a little bit sick, but now they’ve been pretty good as of late. He had a race down at Chester coming in, the Simpson and he won down there, which is a plus going into this race that he was able to get a race in between the three-and-a-half weeks between races. He was very fortunate to get that race.”

2-Year-Old Filly Pace

HURRIKANE SHORTY (Post 6, 5-2 ML): After posting two wins and two seconds with Jim Marohn Jr. at the lines, the daughter of Art Major won her first two starts with Bartlett in the sulky at Yonkers August 17 and 29. Although all her wins have come on the front end, the filly showed Bartlett a new dimension last time at Monticello September 19, racing off the pace to finish second beaten a half-length. Qualified in 1:55.4 at Philadelphia October 3. Brings an 8-4-3-0 record into the sire stakes final for trainer Kevin Mc Dermott.

“She got a little sick there her last two or three starts and then her last start at Monticello, I was very happy with her racing off the pace. Kevin said she’s a lot healthier now. She got a nice qualifier in down at Chester, so she looks pretty good in there, too. She’d been raced a lot on the front end, so putting her on a helmet, trying to race off a helmet was something that I had been trying to do. That front end all year long is going to catch up to them sooner or later. She’s very versatile, she’s very quick off the gate and the way she raced at Monticello, you’re not scared to race her from behind.”

2-Year-Old Filly Trot

LIMA NOVELTY (Post 2, 3-1 ML): Posted four wins and a second in NYSS company this summer, including a track record 1:57.3 victory at Monticello August 21. Made a break when trying open company in the Peaceful Way at Mohawk September 11 before finishing second in sire stakes individually timed in 1:55.4 at Vernon September 22 and qualifying at Pocono in 1:58.0 October 4.

“We have not seen the best of her. She’s a very, very nice trotting filly. Very disappointing up at Mohawk, but very nice filly. She can do it either way, too. She’s won on the front and from behind at Monticello with a track record. She drew a very good spot too, in between the two favorites, so just kind of play off of other people there. She grabbed her boot behind and she just ran. I mean, she’s never run in her life. You would think that getting around Buffalo and Monticello and all those other tracks, in a straightaway at Mohawk, she’d be able to get around there easily enough. It was very surprising to say the least.”

3-Year-Old Filly Pace

PLANET ROCK (Post 1, 6-1 ML): Winless this season in 14 starts, but the daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven enough seconds and thirds in sire stakes company to earn a place in the final and drew the inside post. Toscano trainee went 8-for-12 as a 2-year-old, but enters this year’s sire stakes final off a sixth in the Simpson September 20 and a seventh against older mares in a $17,500 overnight September 29 for Toscano.

“She’s been getting better. I raced her on the front end at Monticello, she raced really well. I had never really driven her before and I put her back on the front at Chester and Linda said two weeks in a row on the front end for her is not the thing to do. She has enough speed to get herself involved early, and then hopefully we can find the right helmet.”

2-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot

CLIVE BIGSBY (Post 3, 5-2 ML): Gelded son of Muscle Mass is 5-for-8 with another two placings to start his career. Impressed when winning a sire stakes leg from post seven at Yonkers by 3 lengths August 8 and won by 3 ¼ at Batavia August 27. Qualified for the William Wellwood Final at Mohawk September 18, but was scratched. Enters the NYSS Final off a 1:57.4 tune up at Vernon September 29 for trainer George Ducharme.

“He’s an honest trotting colt. He’s also a very handy little horse. He’s a nice little horse. He tries, he tries really hard. Got a great little attitude and just a handy little horse. He’s one that you can play the gate and see what everybody else is doing and kind of react, but it looks like he’ll be pushing off the gate and going from there. He’s good. He gets over the track really well. He can stop and go, he’s very good that way. He was sick up there (at Mohawk), so that’s why they scratched him there. George will have him ready, that’s for sure.”

3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Pace

AMERICA’S FLEET (Post 3, 20-1 ML): The longest shot of Bartlett’s Saturday drives, the Edward Hart trainee is 4-for-22 this year, including a nose victory in NYSS at Yonkers July 10. Enters the final off a fourth in an overnight at The Meadows October 7.

“He’s the type of horse that’s going to have to get tripped out pretty good. That race, it’s just going to come down to if there’s any speed or not. We’ve got to trip that horse out a little bit. With the right trip, he can go with them. He’s always been right there with those horses. He may not win a lot of races, but he’s right there. Seconds, thirds, fourths. He’s got a lot of nice checks throughout the year.”

3-Year-Old Colt and Gelding Trot

GUARDIAN ANGEL AS (Post 1, 8-5 ML): After making breaks in the stretch of the Hambletonian Final and at the start of the Yonkers Trot, the son of Archangel finished second in NYSS at Batavia September 13 before winning in sire stakes next out at Yonkers September 23. Shipped to Lexington for the Bluegrass October 1 and finished second beaten a neck in 1:52.1. Anette Lorentzon trains.

“We drew the rail and he looks like he raced really well out at Lexington. He got to stretch out before Yonkers, which is going to help him a lot. With the rail, he can leave and with him, he’s just got to mind his manners. With him, I just let him do what he wants to do and then I’ll just go from there. If he wants to go out of there, he usually drags me out of there anyways, but I’m not going to rush him to get to someplace I don’t need to be. I think I’ve got the best horse, we got a good spot not to do too much rushing, which I’m very happy to see. He can get himself in position, so I’m not really worried about that.”

3-Year-Old Filly Trot

CELEBRITY RUTH (Post 2, 9-5 ML): Unraced at 2, Trond Smedshammer’s filly by Archangel is 4-for-14 this year with another six seconds and $359,113 earned, making her the third highest-earning finalist on the card behind 3-year-old pacer FunkNWaffles and rival Barn Bella. Has three recent wins over the track, including the Hudson Trot September 2 and a 1:55.3 score in NYSS September 14. Enters off a second in a $27,000 Yonkers overnight October 5.

“Very nice filly. She’s quite handy too. She can leave the gate very fast, she’s been in very good spots and it looks like we’re in a very good spot for the final, too. Obviously the one to beat is Barn Bella. I know the half isn’t (Barn Bella’s) forte, so I’d expect her first-over or something like that. (Celebrity Ruth) has been very good in her races coming in, so I’d expect another similar performance from her. She was very good in the Hudson Trot and came back and was actually better in her latest race at Yonkers. She was very good at Batavia, so she’s coming into the race pretty good.”

by Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY

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