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Race Reviews

  • Week Of 10/23 - 10/29
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Track Handicapper James Witherite Bio


James Witherite, a lifelong fan and follower of harness racing, has made a career of it since 2006.  Following studies in music composition at Duquesne University and a seven-year stint as the racecaller at Harrah's Philadelphia, he moved his base of operations to Tioga Downs (and its sister track Vernon Downs) in 2014, where he not only is the lead broadcaster, but also the program handicapper and oddsmaker.  When not on the mic or calling the horses to post in a more musical fashion, the 30-year-old Pennsylvania native is an accomplished jazz organist. 



RACE REVIEWS by James Witherite



Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment makes every  effort to post Race Reviews 48 hours before scheduled post time.  

Race Reviews For Friday, October 28, 2016

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 2-6-8-9
H Horse Comment
1 Grandma's Moni While she's deserving of a pass from that extended first-over push at Lexington, she hasn't raced since. Time off concerns; watch and assess.
2 Crann Tara The 4-time winner is in a prime position to control the pace or keep close to it, as she did in recent PA stakes wins. Contender for sure. Trainer: Honest filly who has done everything right.
3 Onda Su Her wins came from the lead, the pocket, and off a helmet. Versatility is a plus, but breaks one and three back give pause.
4 Overdraft Volo Her Lexington efforts were no doubt strong, especially her Bluegrass victory at 23-1. Could well be the catalyst for pace pressure in this group.
5 Decadence She missed narrowly in a Kindergarten event locally last month, but others have since proven their mettle against tougher foes. Price dictates use.
6 Caviart Wonder This filly stretches back out to two turns after a resounding 5-1/2 length win in her Keystone Classic split. Current momentum is as strong as any here.
7 Dream Baby Dream Following a pillar-to-post win locally three back, she's only mustered minor placings twice since. Outside draw is bound to hinder.
8 Feed Your Head She was even from fourth-over in her Crown elim. More prominent journeys yielded better in minor stakes, and she proved leaving ability, too. Trainer: Has been racing well; should be good here.
9 Casaubon The third-time starter mounted good gains from off the pace to just miss in two Lexington events, but she rises here. Can she rally into deeper exotics?
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 3-8-9-1a
H Horse Comment
1 American Schnapps The 10-start maiden was outmatched against freshmen last week, and only seems to mildly benefit from this inside draw. Wait for signs of progress.
1a Passport to Art He showed mild gains for minor checks in both Lexington efforts, showing improved raw speed. Form, versatility encourage. Trainer: Late maturing colt who's finally figuring it out. Hoping he can continue the trend upwards.
2 Big Klu While the switch to two turns can well help him sustain a late bid better (noting Tioga lines), his last two against easier at Monticello disappoint.
3 Heaven's Gait After a break in his debut, he bounced back with two straight wins at Pocono. Strong presser-stalker carries the form edge in this group. Trainer: Had a few early-summer issues; made a few changes and seem to be on the right track. Went a couple good races at Pocono.
4 Born of Fire He just held sway for a 1:55.2 victory on the switch to three turns in his last. Now, he faces winners for the first time. Still too many variables.
5 Chilln Matisse He successfully bottomed out Philly rivals at 7-1 last week, a full two seconds faster than Born of Fire on the same card. Figures to be prominent.
6 Grave Dancer He hooked four-wide out of traffic and surged to prevail locally at 12-1 three back. Returns off respectable Pocono lines; figures strongly.
7 Melanie's Magic His lone career win in eight starts came from the pocket at Freehold against a good bit easier. Let's see how he handles the switch to two turns.
8 Vegas Dream Traffic hindered him in his last at Pocono after decent staying efforts in Toronto. Second-time Burke tonight; 9-for-14 ITM this year encourages.
9 Cash Is King He hit the board in two starts against winners, controlling the terms on both occasions. While post 10 hinders, there's not much pace on paper here.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 7-1-3-8
H Horse Comment
1 International Moni He just reached for a stakes win at Lexington in his last after a strong showing at 24-1 in the Wellwood. He's ramping up nicely. Trainer: Had a good couple weeks in Lexington. Refreshed, ready for late-season surge.
2 Limerence While decisive in his Liberty Bell split, he's not raced for four weeks after being sidelined from his last. He's likely to be prominent, but how sharp?
3 Shake It Off Lindy It's worth noting he made his late rally locally when room availed inside. Trips aided more than not. Trainer: Continues to improve, performed well in Lexington. He and stablemate both have real chance to win.
4 Cagey He's failed to reach the board in three recent Kindergarten efforts, but he had decent trot in traffic last out. That said, that was over a month ago.
5 Mountain of Love While no factor in his Crown elimination last week, he rallied much better from off the pace at Lexington. Past gait issues still yield hesitation.
6 Explosive Ridge His Kindergarten win in the slop came via the pocket; he weakened after losing cover more recently locally. He's gotten sharper since then, though.
7 New Jersey Viking He headed off pressure nicely to win 3 back, and rallied boldly to just miss 2 back. Kinder group should help this 4-time winner. Trainer: Had a tough trip last week. He's raced against better than these; hoping for the best.
8 Simply Volo He recovered well form a break at the Meadows in his last after proving his versatility on the PA circuit. The switch to two turns should aid.
9 Eastern Promise One of two maidens in the field lacks the raw speed of others and likewise broke in two of his last three. The outside draw hinders all the more.
10 Equestrianconxtion Recent success came via prominent trips from cozy draws. His post 8 leave attempt at Pocono five back stung him a good deal. Watch; assess.
11 Lars Perry He rises off a maiden win at Philly which saw him make every yard. This second-row start presents a new variable, to be sure.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 1-6-9-4
H Horse Comment
1 Royal Knockout She was strong out of post 10 last week, clearing, yielding, and pressing on from the pocket to just miss. Same class; much kinder draw. Trainer: Better post should help. In fine shape.
2 Sandy Hook Hanover She makes her second start back from injury after saving second at Freehold last time. How will she handle the switch to two turns?
3 Campanile This mare rises off a going-away first-over win after toiling in tougher events of late. Ability to take air a plus; class hike still a question mark.
4 Sunnynseventyfive Her late gains off a ground-saving trip saw her aim to a clearing at the five-path for mild progress last week. Tetrick opts to remain on over two others.
5 Let Her Rock While not much of a factor against easier in September, her staying power more than stands up with these. Trip will play a significant role.
6 Bullville Maggie This mare rallied well to take advantage of a laboring--but game--second flight in the straight last week. Every chance to threaten if close and clear.
7 Four Hour Nap She made good late gains in a similar event at Philly a couple weeks ago. Back to two turns after solid upper-level showings at Tioga. Trainer: Versatile mare rested a few weeks after Tioga. Comes in fresh and ready.
8 Miss Defiance Lackluster finishes of late have kept her off the board in similar events despite a strong pressing bid at Philly two back. Wait for improved form.
9 Jarnac This mare circled six-wide in the straight last week and just missed Bullville Maggie for third by half a length. Minor consideration with closer cover.
10 She's Heavenly Could this be a "horses for courses" angle? She rallied well in two local starts last month, but didn't take to Philly so well since. She proved ability to overcome post 10 four back against just easier.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 3-5-1-9
H Horse Comment
1 City Pie The 12-time winner hit the super in 3 of 4 at the $20k level. Class, post relief both help. Trainer: Trained well. Was racing tough horses at Pocono.
2 Redneckyachtclub He makes his second start back after an even, traffic-troubled finish against $15k types. Others close more strongly. Trainer: Trained well, ready. I thought a mile track might suit better; doesn't seem to get in gear until late.
3 JJ Shark He beat similar two back, yet pressed and faded more recently. Can bounce back with kinder trip on step down; slim call. Trainer: Had a very rough trip last start. Will be fine with a better journey.
4 Victorydaze Wilwin This winner in a $10k starter allowance four back has done little since. Makes a lateral move; mind value. Trainer: Raced twice since Meadowlands closed. Didn't seem to like either track; loves Meadowlands.
5 Alex Bullville Strong first-over gains through the far turn last week propelled him into a no-match second. Surely strong enough.
6 Best Said He was just collared after taking charge at Plainridge on Monday. Moves laterally; can share. Trainer: Slowly rounding into form from a long layoff.
7 Windsong Gorgeous He circled aggressively to the lead against similar at Freehold last out. Versatile contender is in peak form. Trainer: Tough, classy horse is back after long road of recovery. Sound and ready.
8 Fitz's Z Tam He beat easier from the pocket two back at Pocono, but I'm not sure as to his outside leaving ability. Trip plays a big role.
9 Our Jerry Lee N His late five-wide push last week carried him to within a neck of second. Live flow can aid. Trainer: Raced well last week, but draws poorly again.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 5-2-7-6
H Horse Comment
1 Charmed Life The Miss Versatility runner-up has largely cooled off since 2014, having missed the board in three Mohawk tries of late. Overmatched, I fear.
2 Hannelore Hanover The 24-time winner shifts back to two turns after an early break in the International. She's right back in her wheelhouse; price determining factor. Trainer: Loves the track; ready to roll.
3 Classical Annie While she enters off three straight wins, the step up from mid-level conditioned company at Philly is an exceedingly daunting task.
4 I'm So Fancy Pressing and stalking efforts at Lexington yielded results, but she was outmatched in the Muscle Hill in her last with this level of competition.
5 Bee a Magician Closing in on $4 million in career earnings, she repelled pressure to prevail on the International undercard off the shelf. Class of the field seems fit. Trainer: Came out of Yonkers in great shape; should race well.
6 Barn Doll She proved herself admirably in wiring the Miss Versatility final field at Delaware. Can ably stay on and add value to exotics given seasonal form.
7 D'One This mare was a winner at JŠgersro in Sweden this summer in one of three races this year. US qualifiers seemed solid, but others exhibit peak form.
8 Shake It Cerry She never got involved until much too late at Yonkers, but stayed on well to hit the board in the Maple Leaf and Muscle Hill. Draw biggest concern.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 7-4-2-6
H Horse Comment
1 Split the House Despite closing the strongest of any from the back of the pack in last week's Open, he's only been able to chase to no avail in top-level events of late.
2 Shamballa Upended at odds-on at Mohawk after earning runner-up honors to Always B Miki at Lexington. Note his 1:46.1 mile equaled Cambest's previous record.
3 Mach It So He accelerated mildly to pass tired foes out of traffic last week. Clearer journeys in past outings yielded much better; needs live cover for best.
4 Always B Miki The world record holder was a resounding winner last week, but outkicked by WIJ at Dayton three back. They're both in prime shape; truly a toss-up. Trainer: Was very happy with his last start. Trained great after.
5 Dealt a Winner He dug in well to hold second after giving way to Always B Miki last week, but only mustered minor checks in 3 of 4 prior stakes. Just a cut below.
6 All Bets Off He's been consistently in the second tier of top pacers, earning minor checks behind the favored pair tonight. Can achieve similar from any trip.
7 Wiggle It Jiggleit The triple millionaire won 4 of 5 and was game in defeat to Always B Miki four back before avenging that loss at Dayton. In top form; slim call. Trainer: Trained well Monday; sharp as he's been all year, mentally and physically.
8 Luck Be Withyou Pressure did him in last week in his first start back from illness. An insulated trip could help him stay on for a minor, but outside draw hinders.
9 Melmerby Beach Despite belated gains for minor checks in his last three starts, he figures to be overmatched in a field of stakes-proven competitors.
10 Americanprimetime While able to push to the lead at the halfway stage last week, he ducked out and faded through the far turn. This draw, this field ask far too much.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 2-6-5-8
H Horse Comment
1 Divine Caroline Admittedly, she was a bit slow to kick into gear after fanning off cover in last week's elimination. Will that staying power be enough this time?
2 Lady Shadow What a dominant effort in last week's elimination! I think it's safe to say she bounced back well; clearly the one to beat in this division. Trainer: Trained great Tuesday. Came out of last race razor-sharp; loves this track.
3 Katie Said Her first-over gain into a :27.2 third quarter was rebuffed last week after her best results of late came in non-stakes events. Needs a kinder journey.
4 Frost Damage Blues In her elimination, she passed all but one while circling four-wide in the straight. She could thrive in a pressured pace; minor option with cover.
5 Solar Sister She was first past the post in her elim before being DQed for forcing Sassa Hanover off stride. That said, she responded to pressure with a :26.3 LQ. Trainer: Got a pretty good draw; needs a big effort.
6 Skippin By Mild gains in her elimination came while the second flight weakened in pursuit of Lady Shadow. Just a cut below, I'm afraid.
7 Sassa Hanover She was versatile in recent wins, but only against mid-level company. She cooled off too much for my liking despite respectable late pace in her elim.
8 Regil Elektra Her first-over gains to save third in last week's elimination earn respect after strong, versatile showings in Yonkers Opens. Ability to take air a plus.
9 Bettor Be Steppin Off a rearward trip in her elimination, she only managed to pass a couple tiring rivals in the straight. This outside draw likely keeps her too far again.
10 Bedroomconfessions She held second by four over Regil Elektra while in pursuit of Lady Shadow. She closed well at 32-1 two back; versatility negates post to a degree.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 2-7-8-6
H Horse Comment
1 Il Sogno Dream While he rallied significantly better at Lexington in his last than in past efforts, he's still been short. Winless record this year discourages, I fear.
2 Resolve The Cashman, Maple Leaf, and Int'l winner seeks to wire yet another top field. The beat goes on for the champion; none match his form. Trainer: Everything feels normal after Int'l Trot. Should have a good chance.
3 JL Cruze The fastest trotter in Meadowlands history came up just short in recent stakes. Needs a prominent trip for best, but pressure is a given tonight.
4 Windsun Revenge Front-end preferred wins and a strong qualifier still don't overshadow a lackluster Maple Leaf effort. He'll need quite a bit to fall his way tonight.
5 Crescent Fashion His last two wins came in N8L events at Yonkers, a far cry from these. While he stayed on for a minor at Lexington, tonight's field is stouter yet.
6 Centurion ATM Traffic was his biggest issue at Yonkers last out and in the Allerage. He cuts back to a mile; clearer sailing helps realize proven staying power.
7 Flanagan Memory Sustained gains after circling in the middle stages of the Int'l give promise, as does his off-the-pace win at Lexington. Certainly capable should pace fold. Trainer: Trained strongly on Monday; feeling good and happy.
8 Crazy Wow Following strong staying efforts for minor shares in Midwest stakes, he returns to action off a sharp qualifier in the slop. Can rally into contention.
9 Lookslikeachpndale He made good late ground in his last, but cuts back to a mile where he's been more even of late. Outside draw; stout competition give pause.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 5-6-8-7
H Horse Comment
1 Waiting On a Woman The 56-time winner ships back to the Big M after two top-level wins at Vernon, but he lacked for staying power against lesser in his last local try.
2 Sweet Justice He rises two levels off a decisive odds-on win. He's in prime position to get involved from the outset, but heavy pressure is a strong likelihood.
3 Celebrity Pegasus After holding sway at this level at Philly 2 back, he emerged around traffic with steady gains behind Dayson last week. Minor option if clear earlier.
4 Aldebaran Eagle Traffic hindered his ability to gather momentum in the straight last week after two Lexington wins. Despite raw speed, he'll need a kinder journey.
5 Market Share The triple millionaire demonstrated refreshed closing kick in his last couple races, just missing at 1m2f two back. Moves laterally; back class can carry. Trainer: Raced his last two starts off cover and has finished well.
6 B Yoyo He chased well off a tracking trip and repelled a late challenger to hold second behind Dayson last week. He's been strong enough of late. Trainer: Solid effort back on the big track. Back in the same class.
7 Lazurus He rose to this level for an 8-1 score in his last, but had the aid of a clear pocket trip in doing so. This group seems a bit heartier; will need similar.
8 Crosbys Clam Bake He's been off the last two weeks noting recent illness sidelined him at Pocono. Recent wins, while showing versatility, came against easier. May need this race to regain optimal form. Trainer: Been a long, well-traveled year. He likes the Big M, though. Didn't do much this week; trying to keep him fresh.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 9-8-5-6
H Horse Comment
1 Labatt Hanover While he made decent ground late in a similar event last week, he had the aid of room up the pegs in the straight. Post relief only helps so much.
1a Muscles On Fire He went the wider trip of the two Drennan trainees, but had the benefit of the winner's cover off the far turn in his pursuit. Be mindful of price.
2 Jimmy William He's reunited with Gingras after a break at Philly in his last. Respectable PA Sire Stakes showings demonstrate good closing ability. Trainer: Was blocked last start, ran into the horse in front of him. I think he'll be OK here.
3 Asta La Pasta He was largely overmatched in a similar race last week, posing no threat from the back after lagging at the start. Others show stronger raw speed.
4 Trot Commander It's worth noting he dueled to the lead on the far turn last week, but failed to clear before tailing off sharply. Still too many variables are present.
5 Rock the Bones While only a winner once in 20 starts, he proved good ability to withstand pressure last week. Reasonable minor consideration back at this level.
6 I Luv Blackhawkred She surged out of traffic to just miss at 36-1 last week after toiling in prior assignments. Could the big track help? Let's see what she does this week.
7 Stick of Butter Despite some success on the New York circuit in the summer, she failed to make any impression after pulling last week. Wait for clearer improvement.
8 Dupree While largely fruitless in a stakes campaign this year, he qualified well last week in preparation for this return. Class relief is sure to aid. Trainer: He really needed the qualifier; I was very happy with how he felt.
9 Twill Be Done I found her steady three-wide push to win last week promising, as I did her ability to parry I Luv Blackhawkred's late bid. Trainer: Benefitted from good trip, raced well last start. Consistent type, but post 10 is no help.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 7-2-6-4
H Horse Comment
1 Battle Mage She dominated at Delaware three back, yes, but she's been largely unproven otherwise this year. Class, post relief aid, but others enjoy stronger form.
2 Expressive Action My biggest concern is due to the fact he hasn't raced since mid-September. That said, he chased stoutly to just miss in his last. Can figure if fit enough.
3 Brandos Muscle Man Solid upper-level contender at Tioga disappointed in his last two at Monticello. The switch to two turns should help him regain staying power. Trainer: Veteran trained hard this week. Will have to see how he responds.
4 Detroit Rapper The 22-time winner makes his second start back tonight. Winter lines against tougher yet were solid, but he's still working toward that form.
5 Magglio He pressed into a win at Monticello over $10k types last week. Form's on the rise, but this step up is awfully daunting.
6 Hill I Am He rallied well from off the pace to factor at this level in his last two, but he's been off since February. Will he be sharp enough off just one qualifier?
7 Onda Di Mare Effective presser-stalker raced well in Lexington, showing both staying power and good raw speed. Steps down mildly; returns to two turns. Trainer: Been very consistent. Expecting more of the same.
8 Earl's Speeder The 9-time winner returns to action following a lone Q. Lackluster late-summer efforts give pause, especially noting hit-or-miss nature of late.
9 Keystone Thomas While he maintained pressure throughout in his last Vernon outing he encounters a class hike and a poor draw tonight. Assess tonight's effort.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 3-7-1-8
H Horse Comment
1 Village Beat He earned minor checks in his last 4 MA efforts, showing even finishes from wherever he landed. Inside draw helps on lateral move. Trainer: Hard-hitting old horse that draws badly week after week. In search of a check.
2 Relentless Dreamer Rearward journeys did him no favors in his last 3 at this level despite OK raw speed. While others have been sharper of late, a closer trip can aid.
3 Major Bubbles N He's hit the board in his last two at this level, giving futile chase to Urbanite Hanover last week and responding well to pressure in the second flight.
4 JK Patriot While favored last week, he failed to respond when Tim Tetrick fanned him four-wide off the far turn. Brett Miller opts off; caveat emptor.
5 Wild Shot Hanover He stayed on well to hit the board in his last two at Freehold, but did so against much lesser company. Class hike is daunting despite solid form.
6 I Found My Beach He kept pressure up pretty well at Monticello last week, but he's another one who rises dramatically tonight. Watch and assess how he steps up.
7 Gravelsinmytravel He qualified well following a Pocono break--his :26.4 LQ is the fastest on the page. No doubt he can close if he brings his "A" game; judge value.
8 Tink and Tiger This one showed good raw speed for this class across the river of late, but was too far to threaten in tougher claiming events. Step down should aid.
9 Card Shock A fifth-over trip was no help for the 9-time winner, but he was devoid of kick after being carried five-wide off the turn. Another wide draw hinders.
10 Stimulus Plan He was no factor from the back of the pack at Freehold last week against softer foes. A similar situation is bound to present itself on this class hike.