With some continued fine tuning, Delaware-based trainer Dylan Davis believes his pacer Lindwood Player is focused on the favorites in Saturday’s $60,200 Exit 16W Final at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The four-year-old son of The Panderosa drew post eight in a field of the top ten money winners from the three-week series. Corey Calahan, the nation’s top driver in wins and money earnings this season, will once again be in the sulky.
The Exit 16W [race six] is one of three finals on a super 13-race program, which also includes the $47,800 Charles Singer Memorial [race three] and the $86,700 Winter Survivor [race 11].
Aside from being a bettor’s delight, the Saturday night card is a fitting challenge for contestants in the World Harness Handicapping Challenge Super Qualifier. The tournament entry fee of $400 includes program, Harness Eye and dinner, and offers $24,000 in prize money. The top four finishers qualify for the WHHC on April 13.
Post Time is 7:15pm.
Lindwood Player sports six career wins and $103,424 for Michael Casalino, Jr. and Davis of Viola, Delaware.
Originally a $5,500 New Jersey Classic yearling, Davis spotted Lindwood Player at last Fall’s Harrisburg Sale and ended up with a late-blooming pacer.
“I bought him at the Harrisburg Mixed Sale [for $45,000] off of Roland Mallar,” noted Davis, 35. “He fit the nonwinners of three class. He won twice in a row at Dover Downs in 1:53 and 1:52.3, and I was impressed enough with him. He’s definitely come a long way.”
In the first leg of the Exit 16W, Lindwood Player stormed home from last to light up the board at 45-1 and took a new lifetime mark of 1:51.3. Not only did he overcome a tough trip, but he also shrugged off an issue that has kept him from performing his best.
“His upset in the first leg wasn’t a surprise to me at all,” said Davis. “The horse has tons of ability, but has some quirk with his left eye that distracts him. I don’t know if there’s something wrong with it or what. Anything on his left side, like a whip moving or a driver’s head, he’ll shy away from it.
“I had heard stories about this horse racing at Harrah’s Philadelphia and how he was scared of horses in front of him,” Davis continued. “The first time I raced him I just had a regular shadow roll and blind bridle on him, and we never saw a problem. When he won those races at Dover Downs he was much the best and didn’t have to deal with traffic. We just moved him and away he went. At the Meadowlands, it’s a whole different game. When guys were moving in front of him he was shying away from everything.”
Davis got together with driver Corey Callahan and came up with a solution. In the second leg of the Exit 16W last week, Lindwood Player rallied for third in 1:51 and just missed by a head in a photo finish.
“Corey and I have been fooling with his bridle,” explained Davis. “He has a Shady Daisy bridle [with a series of straws sticking out of a shadow roll] with Peek A Boo blinds. It helps him a lot, but he’s still not 100 percent. Last week, he reacted off the last turn when Corey moved him wide and he kind of went sideways. Corey felt it might have cost him the race. Corey and I have a long relationship, and we win a lot of races together. He started driving for me when he first got his license.
“I would have to agree he’s a classic longshot closer in that race on Saturday, and we’re obviously going to need some luck. If they go fast fractions I think he’ll be right there again. He’s definitely got some speed and talent. Artzina (1:51, $780,063) was my best one, but I put Lindwood Player among the top horses I’ve ever had.”
Originally from Rutland, Vermont, Davis has been a steady force on the Delaware circuit for more than a decade. Based at Harrington Raceway, Davis is coming off his seventh straight season winning more than 100 races and $1 million.
Davis shares ownership of Lindwood Player with his longtime client Michael Casalino, Jr. of Freehold, NJ.
“Mike was the first guy to give me an outside horse when I was 18 years old, and he’s my backbone. He was in the contracting business and he’s retired now. Knock on wood, I’ve got good horses and great help, and that’s what you need. Right now, I have 45 in my stable, including a few two-year-olds from the first crop of Artzina. At this stage, they’re doing everything right.”
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