Handicapping

  • Week Of 12/22 - 12/28
  • SU22
  • MO23
  • TU24
  • WE25
  • TH26
  • FR27
  • SA28
Track Handicapper James Witherite Bio

 

James Witherite, a lifelong fan and follower of harness racing, has made a career of it since 2006.  Following 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.  That same content-driven analysis now comes to the Meadowlands.  When not on the mic or calling the horses to post in a more musical fashion, the 29-year-old Pennsylvania native is an accomplished jazz composer and 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 Saturday, December 28, 2013

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 5-7-2-3
H Horse Comment
1 MAJOR WAY Has been in for a higher tag at Saratoga. Off 3 weeks and in rather dull form. Will need to show staunch improvement.
2 BOILER BOB THE QB Just couldn’t pace with a class dropper in Mattador D when they got to racing last time. A contender right back.
3 PUTNAMS ATTACK A rather disappointing effort last time when favored. Now moves into this claimer, which I don’t think is any easier.
4 GRATIAS DEO Solid try last time, but that wasn’t a particularly fast mile. Loses Callahan as well now. Minor award appears his ceiling.
5 WESTERN TSUNAMI Faced a better group last time and wasn’t bad. Now gets another move down the ladder. Figures to be very tough.
6 LLC DELIGHT Technically, he hasn’t gone a mile in over a month. This is the right level, but he is 0 for 23 and likely needs a start now.
7 AVOGADRO HANOVER He has been facing tougher recently and he does own a fast mile here earlier this year. Not without a chance.
8 ART FOR LIVING Ships up from Rosecroft which is where he typically does his best work. Milby has won with him. Still a longshot.
9 YANOYANOMENOW Didn’t have much chance last time, but that doesn’t change the fact that he appears a notch below this group.
10 MC RUSTY He is a 7-time winner this year and has gone some fast miles. Post won help, but with a trip, he can cash a check in here.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 10-8-4-6
H Horse Comment
1 TELL STIENAM Just 2 lifetime starts and neither gave us much to work with. Want to see him a complete a mile before considering.
2 GRANDPA DON Connections stopped with him in June, but appears that he has matured quite a bit. Still just his first lifetime start.
3 STIMULUS PLAN Enters this off over a 3 month layoff. His efforts at this level prior to the layoff were not up to par. Watching this time.
4 LITTLEBITACLASS Won 5 of 6 at Flamboro and this looks like another smart buy for Burke. Off 4 weeks, but likely to take plenty of play.
5 IF IT RAINS Record now stands at 0 for 30 and his last effort was just marginal at best. Will need to step up his game quite a bit.
6 WHEELAWAY Sports fairly solid Scarborough form and he raced well at Saratoga last out. Seems to fit well in this spot. Likely contender.
7 SER JOHN Finished within a nose of Wheelaway last time out. He did pull off a 18-1 upset on opening night here. Not without a chance.
8 JUST GOT PAID Beaten by a Takter first time starter that appears to have talent. He was favored there. A logical contender right back.
9 RJ’S DAY Has not done much racing in either start since arriving here. Will remain a longshot until he puts forth a better effort.
10 BARBARIAN He was locked in 2-back and was perfectly positioned last week when the horse first over broke in his face. Interesting.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 1-6-4-8
H Horse Comment
1 COLE HEART Not a bad effort at all last time as he is exiting a very quick mile. Moves inside and I suspect Miller will be aggressive again.
2 THESEYESRCRYING On paper, this field is just tougher than what he faced last time. Was in better form earlier in the year. Tough spot.
3 EXPLODENT Took advantage of what was, on paper, a bit of a soft group last time out. This field is much tougher and he will need more.
4 NATHAN FEELSGOOD Very consistent and racing well at Yonkers. Likely to work out a decent trip from here. Cannot be ignored this time.
5 COBALT MAN Just had no shot last time. His previous effort was OK, but Bongiorno had him in a perfect spot, he was just even late.
6 ROCKNROLL JEWEL He is racing pretty well and has been overlooked at times at the betting windows. Certainly an exotics candidate.
7 DIGITAL Z TAM Record now stands at just 2 for his last 56. His form has been fair, but it is hard to consider him a win contender now.
8 SILENT SWING Was taken to the back when moved up in class last time. I expect Miller to be much more aggressive this time. Player.
9 ROLL ON Gets a needed drop in class now and is likely going to be dangerous off that move. But, this is a rather tough B-2 event.
10 BIG UNIT That last effort was not bad and this gelding has actually been pretty good lately. Campbell will need to blast from out here.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 2-6-8-3
H Horse Comment
1 IDEAL ROWAN Winner of that qualifier did not race well in a C-1 for 3YO’s next out. Still, this gelding can tow along and land a share.
2 APPLE A DAY Brutal trip last time. Prior efforts were strong, especially at this level at Philly. Appears to fit well with this group. Contender.
3 JLDON’TWASTEMYTIME Added Lasix last time, but offered an identical effort to his prior start. Still, likely to take plenty of tote action.
4 DRAGON LORE Believe there is a major difference between this group and the field he defeated at Freehold. Will need even more now.
5 SENOR GRANDE He was 83-1 last time when squandering a pocket trip. Only his 2nd start in the last 7 weeks. Still watching for now.
6 SIR MICHIGAN Z TAM Seems to have rounded back into form since coming back from that layoff. Will look for a helmet to follow. Player.
7 LARAMARS SOUL Moving down the class ladder to a level he was victorious in at Philly. Callahan goes elsewhere though. Tricky read.
8 RING LEDA He was OK last time out as that race was pretty top heavy. I think this field is a bit softer and he merits strong consideration.
9 WORLD CUP CULLEN Remember, Berry has to opt here as he co-owns this horse. Yet to show much late interest. Still a longshot.
10 AHEAD OF THE CROWD The field he beat at Monticello just doesn’t stack up again still. Is also off almost four weeks. Passing for now.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 4-9-8-3
H Horse Comment
1 NEWBEGINING Slight drop in terms of claiming price. Draws better and with a trip can easily hit the ticket. Should be a square price.
2 DAMON BLUE CHIP Perhaps the move back to the claiming ranks will wake him up a bit. Showed some good efforts at this level earlier.
3 MARINER SEELSTER Added Lasix last time but was still a non-factor at 38-1. He could improve with 2nd time Lasix. Bomb for exotics.
4 ROCKROLL SPECIAL Should be a wise guy play as a horse that left this horses former barn won on Saturday. Hoosier miles are good.
5 TOUGH LOVE I don’t take much away from that last mile, but his Freehold form does tell me that he is a cut below these. Longshpt.
6 SAND SAVAGE Interesting to see how much money he took last time off his previous efforts. Perhaps that last field was suspect. Tricky.
7 NORTHERN PRIZE Just 1 for 21 on the year and his recent form is just OK. Would need to take a step forward to contend here.
8 DIABLO SEELSTER Seems to have responded to the move to this level. Continues to move in the right direction. Looms a contender.
9 GOOSE CREEK Two bad posts followed by a tough trip. If he wasn’t soured by that, he has a shot to rally for a piece of this at a price.
10 MR TERRY FRA Just doesn’t seem very sharp right now. He really should have been better last time as well. Looking elsewhere.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 6-8-1-9
H Horse Comment
1 DOVUTO HANOVER Anyone that saw him race last week is going to bet him. Great recovery with a huge late rally. No value off that mile.
2 BIG GAME HUNTER Based on the mile put forth by Dovuto, this geldings late interest in that same race may go overlooked. Interesting.
3 MAY DAY Raced well earlier in the season, but his recent form just doesn’t stack up against these. Will need to improve his game.
4 GEORGE JETTISON Nice rally last time. This horse has success on the big track as well. Field is tough, but he is in excellent form.
5 PANPERO FIRPO Certainly didn’t race badly at this level when last seen here. Perhaps the confidence builder can help. Still a price.
6 COWBOY TERRIER I was impressed with him last week. Hung in there off a 4 week layoff in a very fast race. Has a right to improve more!
7 TRACK MASTER D Off his last pair of efforts at this level, it’s tough to consider him a contender. If anything, this looks even tougher.
8 SWEET TALKIN SATIN Made 2 moves and did all the work in that huge mile last week. Overreaction to Dovuto will help his price.
9 EDDIE SWEAT Flattered by Validus Deo who came out of that last mile and won. This is a serious horse with a big engine. Contender.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 7-4-6-9
H Horse Comment
1 LUCKY MAN Making his second race off the layoff after an inspiring effort. But, Andy opts off and this field is ridiculously good. Tough task.
2 BLATANTLY GOOD Was surprisingly dead on the board last week and raced OK. This field is even tougher, so he will have to step it up.
3 BETTORS GLASS Nothing wrong with his last effort. Will need to turn the tables on Hypnotic while stepping up against a better group.
4 ALEXIE MATTOSIE I think the move down is going to help. His last mile was gritty too. It’s logical to consider him a win contender here.
5 ERLE DALE N Was able to open up and hold on last time. Make no mistake, this field is much tougher. Will need an even better mile.
6 DIAL OR NODIAL Went from dead on the board to the wise-guy play. He needed room late in that mile and figures to be even better now.
7 HYPNOTIC BLUE CHIP It’s great to see this old pro back to this level and in another match-up with ‘Dial. Simply too sharp to ignore.
8 BAKIN ON THE BEACH He was surprisingly flat in the stretch last week. This field is even tougher so he really needs to improve.
9 SOUTHWESTERN DREAM Has not been particularly sharp since arriving here. That said, he can jump up with a big mile without notice.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 8-4-5-9
H Horse Comment
1 MUSCLE BEACHBOY Coming off three solid efforts at three different levels. This field is tough, but he is simply too sharp to ignore.
2 TROON On a 3-race win streak, but has been doing it against much softer competition. Still, his arrow is pointed in the right direction.
3 SAWBUCK HANOVER Exiting a pair of tough races and he has been pretty good lately. Faces a couple of very tough foes in this spot.
4 GALLANT SEELSTER Making his second race back off the layoff so he figures to be better here. Has gone some quick miles in 2013.
5 MINDSET Thoroughly dominated last time out. Gets a good challenge in here from ‘K Lees, but this is still the horse to beat. Short price.
6 ANDREW LUCK Saved ground and was able to earn a pretty good piece of the pie last time. This field is tougher. Needs a faster effort.
7 COMICBOOK HERO Exits an insanely fast mile last time, so don’t be too hard on him. This is a softer spot and he may go overlooked.
8 K-LEES SHAKENBAKE He exploded to the wire last time. That effort was visually impressive and he will provide a challenge to Mindset.
9 MAGIC TRICKS He out-raced his odds in The Reynolds. Has not started since then. Mindset came out of the Reynods well. Good sign.
10 TWIN B FAMOUS Was no match for Mindset last time and now draws the far outside without much speed. Very tough assignment.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 7-2-3-8
H Horse Comment
1 ONTHECLOCK HANOVER Has been keeping some very tough company at Yonkers. This doesn’t exactly get much easier. Fringe player.
2 ROAD UNTRAVELED He was awesome last week. Moving to a tougher spot, but he was simply too good last week to worry about that.
3 FOREST VIC A The grizzled veteran says good-bye. This is the last start of his great career. Be great to see him go out a winner!
4 IDEAL CHAMP He had to be better than that in his last start. His form has gone in the wrong direction and he needs to turn things around.
5 DREAMLANDS ART His last three starts have been an indication of his year and why he is 0 for 30. Logical exotics player, but not on top.
6 BOLDER Threw in a clunker following that 92-1 shocker. He now needs to reaffirm his status and show that win wasn’t an aberration.
7 RELENTLESS G He was flat-out flying at the end of that mile last week. I think this field is not as deep as that last group. Win contender.
8 VOICE OF TRUTH Making his second start back off the layoff, and has a right to improve. Has back class. Use the tote board to guide you.
9 CASHENDASH HANOVER He was better last week, but he is still going to need a bit more to succeed at this level. Might need softer.
10 STONEBRIDGE TONIC Just 1 for 33 in the midst of what has been a bit of a down year. Will need to use his speed to overcome the draw.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 5-7-4-8
H Horse Comment
1 KNOCKING AROUND Kicks off what I call an impossible race to handicap. Finally draws well. With a trip, he can be dangerous here.
2 BACK TO THE WEST The move from $15k to $50k is massive. But none of these are exiting a $50k claimer, so it’s not as steep. Tricky.
3 GARETH NOURRIR Didn’t fare well at the C-1 level and now moves to this level we haven’t seen yet this meet. Will be watching here.
4 A SWEET RIDE I think Callahan gives this horse a big call by opting here. He must have liked his last effort. Looks very dangerous.
5 DELCO ROCKNROLL Throw out that last start and it looks like Pierce landed a nice catch drive. Figures to work out a trip. My top pick.
6 LOTSA CHROME That last field was tough. Code Word did not fare well in his subsequent start though. With a trip, he can earn a part.
7 ABBEYLARA No chance kind of mile where he was finishing with a flourish. Clearly, he can get closer with any king of smoother trip.
8 UP UP AND OUT That last mile was just too fast for him. This race won’t go in 1:48.4 and he has a big chance to rebound in this spot.
9 TELL US MORE Added Lasix last time but was simply too far back. Faces a completely different type of field here. Watching for clues.
10 MORTAL ZIN That was a poor effort on the class drop. This field isn’t any easier and now he has the worst post. Passing this time.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 7-6-5-4
H Horse Comment
1 MACHS BEACH BOY He has more speed than his last few starts at Yonkers indicate. That said, this is a pretty select field. Needs best.
2 FAT MANS ALLEY Faces the toughest field he has seen in some time. Likely will need a lifetime best effort to win this. Tricky call here.
3 ROCK ON MOE Moe has been in very good form recently and respect his 13 wins. But, similar to ‘Fat Man, he will need a career best.
4 AROCKIN HANOVER That was some effort last week. Now he moves up against an even tougher group. He is too sharp to dismiss now.
5 VERSADO He had to need that last start and well know the class this guy brings with him. Expecting a better, more aggressive effort.
6 ABELARD HANOVER He is getting his stride back following the layoff and remember he had a great stretch earlier this year. Contender.
7 BETTOR’S EDGE He is a deserving favorite in here, but is by no means a lock in this spot. Need to determine if you want the short price.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 2-9-4-8
H Horse Comment
1 ONE BAD SHOT Another one of these Tanyeyhill to Irvine horses. Same connections scored similarly last weekend. Off 3 weeks. Tricky.
2 TALKING BLUES Have to figure that last mile makes him pretty tough in this field. See how Burke is doing up to here. Either way, chalk.
3 WISHFUL DESIRE Too many scratches and gaps in races for my liking. Need to see a consistent string of efforts before I can consider.
4 DULL ROAR Miller chooses off again despite racing respectively well against Mindset. I think he can be better in this spot. My selection.
5 MILITIA MAN He comes into this in better form than most, but he has been defeating softer competition. Need to see a start here first.
6 LATE NIGHT JOKE When he stays pacing, he usually gives a good showing, but there is risk here. Likely will toss into some exotics.
7 MANCHESTER Miller landing here perplexed me. This horse ships down in suspect form off a 5 week layoff. I will be watching this one.
8 CONTRABAND HANOVER Making his second start back off the layoff so figures to improve. Loses Miller, but I expect he’ll be better.
9 HUMILITY I think this is a key horse to play. Also making his second start back off the freshening. Expecting him to take a step forward.
10 TARPON HANOVER Here is your wild card. He is getting a needed class drop, but is he ready now? Could win or be nowhere. Tricky call.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 7-6-1-2
H Horse Comment
1 PEMBROKE NICK Last effort was better on the drop in class and this is somewhat of a lateral move. Could hit the ticket in this group.
2 I DO HANOVER If he is ready off the sick scratch, then he is a win contender. But that is a big IF. Use the tote board to guide you.
3 MAJOR TIPPER Went off a lukewarm favorite last time and had to need that start. Figures to be tighter and better this time around.
4 ACTION BRAD Off a qualifier that didn’t reveal a whole lot and a 6 month layoff. Just not a recipe for me to consider at this time.
5 TUNE ME OUT His last mile was better, but he is going to be a lot better to make this transition. Looks like another longshot in here.
6 SIR ZIGGY’S Z TAM I don’t think he does his best work on the lead so I figure he is going to change his tactics here. Looms a contender.
7 AVENUE HANOVER On the driver change/class drop combination, this horse will be a very popular play. Can see him right down the road.
8 STALLONE BLUE CHIP That was an even try on the move up the class ladder. Obviously, he will need to be better this time around.
9 MIGHTY YOUNG JOE It seems that whenever you count this horse out, he jumps up and beats you. Coming off a confidence builder.
10 THANKS FOR STOPPIN Recent form is pretty good. Post obviously won’t help if he doesn’t show any speed. Must be aggressive.