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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, January 20, 2017

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 7-8-1-9
H Horse Comment
1 Feisty Love The distaffer was severely compromised by traffic last week. This much kinder starting spot should serve to keep the 9-year-old better in touch.
2 Brookroaddonnie Monticello shipper rises off a pair of top-three finishes from pocket and midpack stalking trips. Should be near the action; class the variable.
3 Playboy Rusty On the step down to this level last week, he weakened severely on the far turn. While second for $15k three back, current form concerns.
4 In Your Room In three local tries at the level, she's failed to reach the top five. Still a ways from top form, especially considering the 15-month layoff before.
5 New York Attitude He toiled to remain even off cover in his 2017 debut last week. Kinder draw should serve to aid, but others show better staying power still.
6 Hurricane Honey The DC-area invader demonstrated good ability to sustain pressing bids at Rosecroft in November, but she's been out of action for over a month.
7 Downundermatter Only 5-for-58, but he's shown a strong turn of form in recent weeks. Just last out, he rallied well after circling stalled cover. Good momentum. Trainer: Should be close this week again.
8 Magglio While he failed to get involved last week, he made good ground from off the pace at big odds twice prior. Can be a solid value play with live flow.
9 Paris Princess N The 8-year-old returns to friendlier confines on this side of the Hudson. Proven staying power at the level duly noted; reasonable minor option. Trainer: She likes the big track, she should be good there.
10 Windsun Fireball He's earned minor checks at the level in two of three, but lacked from the pocket in the last sixteenth. Post 10 makes for a much tougher task.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 7-8-4-3
H Horse Comment
1 I C Caviar A strong winner a class below this one five back, he's struggled of late since rising to this top condition. Recent downward trends give pause.
2 Anaffairtoremember She worked out of traffic to admirably save third at 25-1 last week. The switch to two turns seemed to solve gait issues; minor player with same.
3 Opulent Yankee Strong minor consideration in this group noting improved staying power from the pocket last week. Outside pair seem just a bit stronger, still.
4 Watkins On arrival from Yonkers last week, the 43-time winner drew clear of just easier at first asking. Given the ease of that win, he seems fit for these.
5 B Yoyo Breaks in two of his last three give pause despite proven ability with similar. While he can reach exotics with his best, demand fair value.
6 Classical Annie While she advanced into a joint second in the breeze last week, she weakened late. She stayed on better three back; can she rebound?
7 Crosbys Clam Bake The 32-time winner looks to bounce back from sickness for a fourth straight score. He's dominated at the level so far; can easily control. Trainer: Acting better; wasn't himself last week. Long year ahead; not worried about week off.
8 Muscle Diamond He wired last week's top trot after the defection of Crosbys Clam Bake. Stakes contender demonstrates form and versatility; price the question. Trainer: Easy week after racing two weeks in a row. Seems good. Not happy with post, hoping for some luck.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 1-3-4-9
H Horse Comment
1 Candy Styx N This mare drops back down to first-level company after only mustering mild gains from fourth-over last time. Cozy inside draw can only help. Trainer: Ready to race; should be good with the class drop.
2 OK Gemma After circling for a 17-1 upset at Freehold last week, she jumps up two levels into a group that's largely faced much tougher. Demand value.
3 Sportsmuffler She's back to a winning level via the optional tag, noting pocket scores both three and five back. Inside draw keeps her prominent throughout. Trainer: Never could get into the race last week. Should be better with a better trip.
4 Heretic Franco N A second straight drop in class awaits the 8-year-old who turned in a respectable two-move effort last out. Kinder circumstances in the offing.
5 Whiskersonkittens Even finishes of late have kept her just short of earnings in second-level races. All but two in the race step down; class relief is minimal if at all.
6 Seafood Missy She demonstrated improved progress against tougher last week, carried six-wide off the corner before advancing. Form upswing, perhaps?
7 Lexus Artist It's worth noting that she was compromised by traffic on debut, but also that she only earned minor checks among easier at Monticello prior.
8 Rockers Alley While she dominated $7.5k types in the fourth line down, this level's proven much more challenging. Note seven others drop in class here.
9 Mojarra Hanover She worked to hold sway against similar five back after pushing forward from the outside. Another outside draw awaits; minor option.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 8-3-6-1
H Horse Comment
1 Party On the River After showing good staying power over 1m2f on 11/1, he faces an easier group here after a brief layoff. Draws cozily; may yet need the race.
2 I Luv Blackhawkred She stayed on respectably in her debut for Blackler last week. A much kinder draw awaits; can reach the ticket with a close, clear journey.
3 Alexander Hanover He makes his second start on Lasix tonight following a tough two-move effort last out. Was better on the lead and off cover prior; can contend. Trainer: Second start Lasix should help after some bleeding issues. He's good.
4 Paolina Esplosiva Since arriving at the Meadowlands, her fastest last quarter has been :31.3. She's made no impression at this level; best to wait for progress.
5 Casino Cutie IT The 4-year-old earned minor checks in kinder first-level races of late. She faces a mighty step up, but raw speed may be her saving grace.
6 Big Expense He's worked into a reliable minor option at the level, staying on from ground-saving trips to hit the super twice in three. Can stay on enough.
7 Stayin Strong Yonkers invader faded in N6L company last out, and despite a N4L win at Plainridge three back, seems to lack raw speed. Watch and assess.
8 Battle Mage The 6-time winner remains eligible via the earnings provision after a stout chase from the pocket last week. She won at the level on 12/22. Trainer: I think she will be a little better this week.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 10-6-9-7-1
H Horse Comment
1 Rose Run Quickley His break last out seemed an anomaly, but rearward trips in tougher races certainly didn't aid either. Class and post relief both are welcome.
2 Danish Durango Further class relief can only help the 5-year-old, but it seems he's mildly regressing despite a couple steps down thus far. Wait for progress. Trainer: Was ready last week, but made a break leaving. Perfect spot to get back on track.
3 Cincinnati Miss She simply couldn't finish from pacesetting and pressing journeys in two tries since arriving from the Spa. Others boast better momentum of late.
4 Andovers Touch He upset second-level types at 45-1 three back, and just missed Fox Valley Steffen off cover at this class two back. Include to boost value?
5 Yankee Puzzle She pressed for a win over similar at 1m2f two back, but broke on debut for Blackler since. Switches to two turns; moves laterally.
6 Lauderdale He kept on fighting after he was headed at the eighth pole last week in a similar race. While five others step down, he held his own with tougher. Trainer: He had a good week of training, just needs the race to unfold for him.
7 Can Do He's consistently earned minor checks in mid-level events throughout recent weeks. He can press or stalk alike; figures well in the High Five. Trainer: Got shuffled a little last week, but closed hard.
8 Fusion Power That win two back came two levels below this and from an easy pocket. While he stayed OK at this class last out, this task seems tougher. Trainer: Had a good week. Should be OK.
9 Marion Millionair Granted, she tired from the pocket last week, but she was used to clear five-sixteenths in before yielding. Class and trip relief can both aid. Trainer: Ready to go; class drop will help.
10 Fox Valley Steffen After toiling in $30k events, this 29-time winner drops back to a winning level via the optional tag. He overcame post 9 three back; capable. Trainer: $12.5k claimer returning somewhat to reality.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 8-3-9-2
H Horse Comment
1 Pan Luis Obispo The Burke trainee has consistently worked into minor placings at the level from a variety of trips. Comfortable draw can help staying power.
2 Bullville Maggie I'm inclined to forgive last week's extended first-over try which saw her nearly lead in mid-stretch before the pace collapsed. Kinder foes await.
3 Intoview She nearly lasted on the lead last week, only to be outdone by her pocket rival in the last yards. She's rounding back into form quite well. Trainer: Had a good week. Look for a good effort.
4 Melanies Sharkette While she proved victorious in two of her last three, how will she handle another jump? That said, she drew off assertively while driven last out. Trainer: Steps up a notch off three straight solid efforts.
5 Fashion Katie Cleveland invader works into an easier group after proving little threat in Open events. Staying power with tougher at Philly is a sure plus.
6 Let Her Rock To her credit, she stayed on strongly to hit the board in her last three, including a 1:52.4 mile two back. The big caution: five foes step down.
7 Goinroundncircles Can class relief and a change of venue seek to help her regain form? Raw speed may be her saving grace, but let's assess this performance.
8 Mac's Secure This 9-time winner returns to a competitive level after she was severely compromised by traffic on the far turn. Clearer sailing will surely aid.
9 Joyful Game She drops back to a winning level after posting belated five-wide gains at the $15k class last week. Outside draw is her biggest obstacle.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 4-3-9-8
H Horse Comment
1 Roundtown Rocker He draws far better tonight after showing no involvement from the far outside last time. While post can aid, he became detached last time.
2 Sheer Flex After working free of a tiring foe, he chased mildly to miss second by 1-1/2 lengths last week. Stays via the optional tag; trip will surely factor.
3 Waiting On a Woman The 57-time winner worked to protect second from pocket journeys in his last two, and he gets a bit of relief tonight. Time off biggest concern.
4 Hyway Marcus He advanced steadily to press last week and held a strong yet no-match second after he was rebuffed by Watkins. Back at the level via $30k tag. Trainer: Should be right as long as he can mind his manners.
5 Hill I Am A third straight step up awaits this versatile 6-year-old after he circled wide to late gains last week. That said, this field appears rather tough.
6 Canadian Wildcat Yes, he wired similar three back, but he wasn't as sharp in the late stages twice since. While class relief can aid, be mindful of value.
7 World Cup The 8-year-old hit the board in four of five, showing good ability to maintain and withstand pressure alike. How will he handle the jump? Trainer: Close in last few starts, but steps up a class.
8 Flying Isa N He showed good staying power at the level from close stalking trips two and three back, but gapped good cover last week. Should be tighter.
9 Aldebaran Eagle The 5-year-old won at this level in his fourth line down, and gait issues last out were uncharacteristic of him. Steps down, but draws poorly.
10 Windsong Illusion He remains above his most recent winning level and draws worse yet. Quite a daunting task awaits despite mild gains out of traffic last out.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 8-2-9-5
H Horse Comment
1 Mama Rocked Me After hitting the board in 10 of 16 as a 3-year-old, she debuts for Beckwith off a lone qualifier. Time off gives pause noting proven foes.
2 Phyllis Jean She returns from Yonkers after just missing N2L types from well off the pace. Her push off cover three back encourages; kind draw should aid.
3 Quiet Cove This mare was even in her first start with Lasix, pushing mildly down the stand side in the last 70 yards. Outside chance for a minor with similar.
4 Flash's Fool She lacked from the pocket in her local debut after better efforts at Rosecroft last year. Time off since will only add to the difficulty.
5 CC C Her Bibi When we last saw her two weeks ago, she had no trouble emerging out of traffic to save second up the pegs. Will she find as clear of sailing?
6 She Can Cruise She's back in action for the first time since October, but she failed to hit the board in similar fields at Philly in the fall. Will wait for clear progress.
7 Stormin Spree She was no threat to N4L types across the river, nor much of one at Saratoga late last year. Will wait for this one to show improvement, too.
8 Robocall Hanover In victory two back, she repelled pressure off the far turn. More recently, she kept up an uncovered bid through the middle half. No doubt strong. Trainer: Was very good off a tough trip.
9 Big Bad Beach She worked to protect second last week after she was eclipsed by the stretch-pacing Melanies Sharkette. Getting stronger by the week. Trainer: Trained well this week. Should be OK despite the post.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 3-4-1-6
H Horse Comment
1 Bob N Tony Miller's aboard the Yonkers invader who showed good staying power over 1m2f in his last two. Moves laterally, draws favorably. Can factor.
2 Karets He raced respectably last week, splitting foes with mild trot last week at big odds. A much kinder draw should land him more prominently.
3 Midfield Magic This 17-time winner remains at a proven level via the optional $15k tag after holding sway last week. Monti opts off, but Campbell's aboard. Trainer: Had a nice win last week, seems sharp right now.
4 Walltocousins I'll give last week's race a pass on account of uncovered exertion through the middle half. A kinder yet close trip can suit him far better.
5 Buffalino Hanover He earned minor checks in two tries at this level since arriving from Philly. That said, he seems a cut below this group given flat efforts.
6 Scottish Cross The 12-year-old distaffer debuts for Nick Surick off the claim after fading at the pegs a fortnight ago. Can she rebound? Mind value in exotics.
7 The Only One He wired similar at Philly four back, but has been even at best since arriving from there. Post hindered greatly last out; needs live cover.
8 Its Chocolate Time He rises after just reaching first-level types from a well-earned pocket. Past gait issues still concern; significant class hike asks an awful lot.
9 Sweet Justice After wiring second-level types two back, he gapped dueling leaders off the corner and faded last week. Another wide draw gives further pause. Trainer: Disappointed last out. Must be better.
10 Pollux Blue Chip He couldn't get involved from post 10 on debut last week after minor success in $15k events at the Spa. Will wait for kinder circumstances.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 5-8-2-10
H Horse Comment
1 I Do Hanover This 8-year-old makes his first start since November after an even qualifier. A cozy inside draw can do a lot to put him in play more easily.
2 I Found My Beach He returns to a winning course and drops to a viable level after post 8 did him no favors across the Hudson. Can threaten if near the pace. Trainer: Big-hearted veteran gets some much needed class relief. Should be tough in this group.
3 Auckland Flyer In two local starts, he showed significant regression in the straight. Despite noted class relief, others here show better form of late.
4 Broadies Song He held his own with $10k types late last year, but his most recent effort wasn't so encouraging. Can he work back around? Watch and assess.
5 Autobiographical The 12-time winner gets significant relief in his second start for Eric Foster. It's worth noting he held his own with $10k types not long ago. Trainer: He should like the class drop.
6 Idealist The 14-year-old veteran moves laterally from conditioned events at Dover in which he earned minor checks. Can stay even with live flow.
7 David On Ice Gait issues have plagued him of late in similar $7.5k events. He's not incapable of surprising with the right trip, but current form concerns.
8 Whatagamble He just missed Drunken Terror from a clear pocket in his debut effort last week. He tends to stay fairly even as long as he's not taxed early on.
9 Italian Rebel After just missing at Freehold last out, he tries two turns in his second start for Carotenuto. The outside draw is bound to challenge him.
10 Buckeye in Charge The 10-year-old drops down to the lowest claiming level after failing to earn in his last five tries. Post 10 hinders, but raw speed is amply solid.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 6-8-2-7
H Horse Comment
1 Beautiful Lady She stayed on for minor checks in her last two tries. Post relief partially offsets the step up for this 13-time winner; four-wide progress noted.
2 Ideal Nuggets She won well one level below three back and raced well from off the pace last out--excuse two back. Can she maybe control an easy pace?
3 Go For Sand Despite good gains up the pegs last week to chase pocket winner UF Dragon's queen, her most recent win was three levels below this one.
4 UF Dragon's Queen The 7-year-old rises after pushing through at the pegs to score last week. Past tries at this level have yielded a hodgepodge of results.
5 Fanticipation While she steps down from her last, she's still above her most recent winning level. Proven staying power is clearly her best asset.
6 Abbijade Hanover She's right back in after a win at the level, having circled up to just reach at 54-1 last out. She's hit the board in 4 of 5; can she find better cover? Trainer: Has been a different horse at the Big M.
7 Not Before Eight After hitting the exacta in four straight against softer, the consistent stalking type is one of six to step up. Current form encourages greatly. Trainer: Trained well, always gives her all.
8 The Summer Wind The 25-time winner hasn't been in action since July, but turned in some mighty strong miles at Pocono last summer. Figures with her 'A' game.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 8-4-3-10
H Horse Comment
1 Raven Victory He was no menace on debut despite an even effort among similar foes. The inside draw is bound to aid, but can he regain Philly form?
2 Bad Day Black Rock He chased well behind Hall Pass Helen last week, sustaining gradual first-over gains off the far turn. Well drawn for similar; mind value.
3 Lazurus Post relief can aid the 12-time winner after he stayed on mildly from post 10 last out. Closer cover and less early exertion should both aid.
4 Stonebridge Idol In his first start back, he chased stoutly to miss similar by a length after tracking closely. Expect sharper yet coming right back; Marcus opts on.
5 Ashlake After good early exertion to clear and yield last week, he weakened from the pocket in the last eighth. Others demonstrate better fortitude of late.
6 Bell a Chick He's by all means capable of strong late gains, but it appears to this set of eyes that he's got to be carefully handled to stay on gait. Minor call.
7 Forever As She was bothered at Yonkers last week, and lost all chance as such. Now, the 9-time winner comes back to two turns--can she stay on task? Trainer: Everything is well with her. Broke last start but wasn't her fault--got hit by the whip in front of her.
8 Hall Pass Helen She remains at this winning level via the optional tag after a powerful front-end score at odds-on. Consistent progress of late is a huge plus. Trainer: Having the outside shouldn't matter much. Should be close.
9 Lindy's Best Yet He wired Monticello foes last week, drawing off through the last eighth. Class hike is significant, but staying power from off the pace is a plus.
10 P L Houdini While he's tasked with a second straight post-10 draw, he steps back to a winning level after mounting mild headway from the back last out.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 4-1-3-8-6
H Horse Comment
1 Majo Just Do It Post relief is bound to land this solid stayer much closer to the action after he had too much ground to make up last week. Figures if clear.
2 Perfect Terror He's failed to hit the board in his last three at the level, but closed well off cover four back in a series preliminary. Others carry stronger form.
3 Fools Gold The 36-time winner weakened from the pocket at Yonkers last week, is reunited with Brett Miller, and finds an easier group. Be wary of value.
4 Our Cullenscrown N A proven $7.5k type, he's held his own well at Freehold of late, but chased for second locally in a series final four back. Form can carry.
5 Lincoln Blues Freehold invader lost all chance before the start last out, but showed good staying power in past Freehold efforts. Switches to two turns.
6 Semalu Express The 13-year-old is a decade detached from his 1:50.4 mark at Montréal, but enters off a front-end win at Monticello. Can share with live flow.
7 Workandplayhard He missed last week due to sickness, but regressed late in two straight starts before. Current form gives pause, as does last week's illness.
8 Fox Valley Cupid Third-time Dane starter returns to action for the first time in six weeks, having proven ability in similar races last fall. Fitness the big variable.
9 Salevster Stallion He hit the superfecta in four of five at this tag or just higher. Despite racing for the same tag, this seems to be a taller task, wide draw and all. Trainer: The bigger track should help him. He's ready.
10 Stormin Rustler He just missed by a length at 61-1 in his seasonal debut for the same tag, but he's tasked with a post-10 dispatch tonight. Trip a big factor.