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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 Saturday, December 03, 2016

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 3-4-10-8
H Horse Comment
1 Commondiscourtesy He debuts for Mark Ford after a single start at the Meadows. His stakes effort at DuQuoin demonstrated respectable enough staying power.
2 Daddy Let Me Drive One of two Pat Curtin trainees in the group proved victorious at Saratoga five back, and shows generally even finishes. Faces older and rises, though.
3 Uncle Coz He won strongly at Pocono in N3L company last week after seven months away from the races. Lightly-raced 3-year-old seems fit enough to contend.
4 Mr Munson Note that he pushed to the lead heading to the far side last week before yielding and lacking late. Philly lines show pressing and stalking ability. Trainer: Was a little flat finishing in his first start here. Hoping for a better race with the speed tightener under his belt.
5 St Mattys Day He draws much more favorably this time around after passing tired foes last week. Likely still a cut below, but able to reach exotics with cover.
6 JK Onaroll He stayed on well for third in his local debut, aiming three-wide in the stretch off live cover. Can press or rally mildly off cover for a share again.
7 Roll Little Joe This 17-start maiden held his own in Massachusetts stakes events behind Tuukka, but lacks the raw speed others boast. Watch and assess tonight.
8 Djnorthernstar Last week, he swung five-wide in the stretch and rallied most strongly of all, only to stumble just before the line. Clear and close trip can aid most. Trainer: HeÕs a lightly-raced 4-year-old, but once he develops and finds himself, heÕll be a really nice horse.
9 Jaded Truth In a first-level race locally three back, he made no impression after being involved with a fairly soft early pace. Wide draw a hindrance on this return.
10 Born of Fire Yannick opts on over three others. They teamed up for a narrow score at Philly five back, and most recently this one was even off third-over cover.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 1-6-5-1a
H Horse Comment
1 In the Arsenal The millionaire broke at the start at Yonkers last out, but was a strong first-over winner locally three back in a similar race. Clear back class edge. Trainer: Trained well. Looking for a good effort.
1a Dream Out Loud N The 27-time winner pressed steadily to just prevail at Philly in a similar race last out. Switches to 2 turns; mild success in upper-level YR races a plus. Trainer: Will like the big track. Sharp and ready to go.
2 Ontario Success My biggest concern about this Hoosier invader is the fact he's not raced in four weeks. Capable when fit, but he may need the race to re-acclimate.
3 Uncle Lile A Recent US arrival proved dominant in the November G-Notes series, and since just missed Dream Out Loud. They meet again; can hit the ticket.
4 Quality Closer His 1:50.3 win last week came with the aid of a pocket trip behind a pressured pace. Steps back up tonight into a field with abundant talent.
5 Ashley's Husband The strongest finisher in the field on paper could only muster mild first-over gains into third against similar last week. That said, he refused to regress. Trainer: Trained well.
6 Bullet Bob He made most of the pace last week, only to be collared by Mr Hasani from the pocket. Could he steal it as lone speed? Worth a shot at the right price.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 8-7-6-3
H Horse Comment
1 The Limit Hanover Pocono invader seems to finish evenly by rule, staying on when close and clear and not threatening from rearward trips. Cozy draw can aid some.
2 Brickman He's not raced since 2015, but he's reeled off four straight qualifiers. Last year's 1:51.3 mark encourages, but he could be a ways from top fitness yet.
3 Chilln Matisse He edged away to beat N2L types two weeks ago after sustaining a middle move out of midfield. Generally one to finish respectably at worst.
4 Cool Breeze de Vie He failed to menace in a N2L event last out, but managed to stay even while carried wide off mild uncovered gains. This further step up gives pause.
5 All Down the Line While in for $18k at Pocono last time, he just missed from the pocket. Moves laterally; in a prime position to establish a close spot from the start.
6 Double Again Like Chilln Matisse, he rises off a N2L win. The difference: he edged away after a sustained first-over push. Rises; picks up David Miller.
7 Maajaackkobe He debuts for Russo after a going-away victory over N4L types at Yonkers last week. More than capable if able to work into early prominence. Trainer: Fits well here, glad to have him back in my barn.
8 Ever Again Despite a break at Yonkers last week, his dominance in N50kL events earlier in the fall is too strong to ignore. He's got the speed edge; the one to beat.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 8-1-7-3
H Horse Comment
1 To Beach His Own After hitting the board in 4 of his last 5 $10k assignments at Pocono, he invades. Strength in pressing efforts an absolute plus.
2 Major Bubbles N He's back to a winning level by way of the optional tag after toiling from post 10 last out. Cozier draw helps him make better use of solid late kick.
3 Last Dragon He accelerated strongly down the grandstand side last week to close plenty of ground in the G-Notes consolation. Meets similar amid good momentum. Trainer: Looks like heÕs on track. Finished up well last week.
4 Oaks Hanover While he hit the board four back at Batavia, he was only even in doing so. Others seem sharper than the 11-year-old veteran of late, I'm afraid.
5 Sir Jakes Z Tam He held second fairly easily last week at this level, but he drifted nearly to the fence in the straight. Proven to be a threat with a more direct path.
6 Bullville Kyle One of two in this field to take part in last week's G-Notes final, he wasn't lacking for pace despite being hampered by excess cover. Should be closer.
7 Statesman N Flamboro invader was second in his last three races, most recently rallying belatedly into a weakening pace. Rises mildly; Brett opts on over four.
8 Return to Sender N He rallied beautifully down the stand side to score 2 back. Since then, he stayed for third in last week's final via live cover. Current form encourages. Trainer: Jogged really well this week, changed his shoes. Needs to make one run from the back.
9 Cherokee Ranger He worked to a mid-stretch lead from first-over last week, only to be outkicked up the pegs. Wide draw, G-Notes finalists loom. Mind value.
10 Ser Jon He proved little threat in similar races at Saratoga in his last two, and he's once again hampered by an outside post tonight. Needs a lot to go his way.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 4-6-8-3-10
H Horse Comment
1 Shadow's Image He reached off cover for a 1:53.1 win at Philly against similar three back, but labored late twice since. Won't rule him out, but those last two concern.
2 Seafood Mike His win four back at Freehold came against lesser by way of a cozy and clear pocket trip. I fear this task asks too much on another step up in class.
3 Some Power The 7-time winner has fared well in similar races at Philly, earning checks in his last four and reaching off cover four back. Strong minor consideration.
4 Mr Blissfull A first-level winner from off the pace three back rises after rallying into second twice at the $12.5k level. Current momentum encourages greatly. Trainer: Sharp as a tack since his third-place finish at Philly. Should follow once again and stalk to the finish.
5 Brown Color He earned minor checks in his last four tries at the $15k level at the Spa. A much kinder starting spot can serve to put him in closer contention. Trainer: Never quite got into it last week, draws better this week.
6 Hollyrock Heyden Heidi Rohr trainee returns after winning twice at the $10k level in Massachusetts. Improved strength and versatility of late are worth noting. Trainer: Coming off a couple sharp efforts and he had a good week. Should be good.
7 Every Intention Last week's effort was much better than it looks on paper. He soared down the stand side to miss third by a nose after the cover was slow to start up. Trainer: Very nice horse. Too much traffic last week because of bad post; should be very close this week.
8 Viceroy Hanover He's hit the board in four straight, rallying well at Plainridge last time while in for $15k. Form and versatility both encourage; can do enough to contend.
9 Medoland Bobcat He never threatened from a wide draw at Saratoga last out, and he's bound to face a similar situation tonight on the step up. Assess for next time. Trainer: First time on a big track for him, but post isnÕt going to help. Trained well.
10 Amora Beach Lateral move from Philly events is made all the more difficult to convert from post 10. Can conceivably work into the High Five combination with cover. Trainer: Coming off a 3-week layoff before his last start. Should be tighter but post 10 is a tough task. Blasting hard.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 10-4-9-3
H Horse Comment
1 Northern Assassin A This move is essentially a lateral one for the 12-time winner who's shown good ability twice Stateside. That said, there are options galore here.
2 Savage Seelster He dominated second-level types last week, but he's faced with a double jump into a strong group tonight. It's asking a lot of the 16-time winner.
3 Eastend Eddie Longtime Tioga stalwart rises off a powerful Pocono win which saw him push aggressively to the fore. Carries good momentum into tonight's race.
4 Casimir Jitterbug Following a narrow defeat at Yonkers, he steps down considerably. Versatility is a plus, noting pacesetting, stalking, and closing efforts. Trainer: Class animal; should be a good fit here. Better off a helmet.
5 Kiwi Ideal N He moves laterally off a narrow Philly win via the optional $30k tag. Best when able to control the terms, but quartet of class droppers loom. Trainer: Classy old horse. With some luck, he can definitely be a factor.
6 Fool Me Once Alagna trainee drops in class following a no-chance trip in his last at Yonkers. Generally one to finish well, but needs live cover for best.
7 Unix Hanover He rises for the third straight week after reeling off a natural hat trick at Plainridge. Momentum is a clear plus, but a tougher challenge awaits.
8 Barimah A He makes his second start back after proving no threat while even last week. Class relief is sure to help, but the poor draw limits tactical options.
9 Ari Allstar New addition to the Russo stable steps down for the second week in a row after an even finish at Pocono. Closing bids 4 and 5 back encourage.
10 Stay Up Late He's had good success at the $30k level, winning from post 10 three back and just being outdone by Quality Closer last week. Form and class unite.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 9-1-5-8
H Horse Comment
1 Urbanite Hanover A powerful 1:49.3 winner five back returns from Pocono, drops down, and draws far better. The only downside: Gingras opts off. Still figures well. Trainer: Frustrating horse. Unless heÕs handled aggressively, he wonÕt try.
2 Machtu N He's missed the board in five straight, but he drops for the second straight week. Can the switch to two turns help him sustain progress more easily?
3 Elwell Despite 76-1 odds last week, he flew home to just miss third after diving to the pegs from fifth-over cover. Stalled cover hindered two back.
4 Starznheaven Last week, he pressed and flattened, but stayed on for third against tougher. Slight relief is bound to aid, and Brett Miller takes over the lines.
5 Iam Bonasera He found his best pace once straightening up for home last week, making ground fairly well once switching off the pegs. Should be sharper tonight.
6 War-N-Munn While he's missed the board in 5 straight, he closed ground late against tougher 1 and 3 back. Class relief an aid; clear sailing can help immensely.
7 Jacksrluckytoo Class relief is welcome for this 14-time winner's third start back, but seven others drop too. Fitness remains the big variable.
8 Alexie Mattosie The millionaire has been off a month after laboring to keep even behind Stay Up Late last out and pressing into him two back. Fast miles encourage.
9 Inspiration View Second-time Burke starter shows a pair of mid-1:50 miles three and four back in much tougher assignments. Clearer journey a must; Gingras on. Trainer: Look for equipment changes.
10 Pier Ho Temptation While he shows a lateral move following his gritty first-over effort at 61-1 last week, he draws wide of eight who drop in class. Tough task awaits.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 1-7-6-2
H Horse Comment
1 JJ Flynn While he rises off a Saratoga win, he showed staying ability off cover in fall stakes tests. Makes his second start for Spagnola; Brett opts on. Strong. Trainer: Raced well last week, should like the big track.
2 Gravelsinmytravel It seems there's an abundance of pace on paper in this race, and that can serve to help this stone-cold closer handle the jump up. Mid-price option.
3 Sam McSmith The 5-time winner returns to action off a solid qualifier last week following brief illness. Best when prominent, but there's a lot of pace pressure here.
4 Dreamlands Art Credit his Batavia line on account of strong exertion from post 8, a wide trip throughout, and slim defeat. Wins 2 and 4 back were over lesser, though.
5 Father Sarducci In his last against N5L types, he pressed up the far side before flattening. Slight relief can aid the 3-year-old who shows front-end and pressing wins.
6 Blatantly Best Following a narrow defeat, the 25-time winner returns to a course where he's enjoyed great success of late. Versatility a plus; minor option.
7 Screaman Seaman A He just missed Gravelsinmytravel after swinging four-wide in the stretch and lunging late. Closing kick in last two local efforts can suit well here.
8 Matrix of Luck Indiana stakes contender gets relief in his second local start. Last out, he lacked late after stalking mild cover into a :54.1 back half. Trainer: Will try a more aggressive approach.
9 Ponyta Boy He jumps two levels after a second double-digit win in five starts. Admittedly, others boast stronger, more reliable raw speed in this group.
10 Mister Truth He jumps two levels after just reaching second-level types last out, and he's tasked with a post 10 dispatch in a class he was outmatched in at Philly.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 3-5-9-2
H Horse Comment
1 Lauxmont Capri Following a closing-night win at Vernon, he weakened sharply at Yonkers in a slightly tougher race. That rapid regression gives pause despite the drop.
2 City Pie After clearing and yielding last week, he checked on the far turn as his leading rival broke stride. Still, he chased to save third. Clearer can aid.
3 Rockaholic Spagnola trainee is back in for the $15k tag after a narrow miss from just off the pace last week. Form at this level is no doubt strong enough. Trainer: Just missed last week, hoping to get it done this week.
4 Toatsmygoats Stayed on well in recent tries amid similar, even after a strong push from post 8 across the river to land in the pocket. Lateral move no concern.
5 Speed Again He's finished well enough to earn money in four of his last five starts, all at this level or tougher. The switch to two turns should help staying power. Trainer: Two-turn mile should help.
6 Rancousy He closed well off cover in the G-Notes final last week, but this represents a double jump from his first-over win two back. May be asking much yet.
7 Dr C's Z Tam The 10-year-old veteran is one of three to step down in this race after toiling in strong upper-level claimers at Pocono. Has pace; needs clear sailing.
8 Santanna Star He just missed from the pocket at Plainridge three back, but only mustered even efforts at Philly and Yonkers. Can the venue change help him bounce?
9 City Hall He rises off a strong win last week, but he did inherit command on the far turn as his inside foe broke while this one gained first-over. Post hinders.
10 Flying Cowboy He closed beautifully to just miss at 43-1 in a $15k event at Pocono last out but he's still a ways away from peak form. Post 10 a big obstacle here.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 9-8-2-3
H Horse Comment
1 My Spirit Soars He's been no worse than fourth in four starts, most recently splitting out of traffic and staying on with similar at long odds. Can reach for a share.
2 Windsong Gorgeous Last week, he was shoved two-wide as the horse in front of him checked as a result of a breaking foe. Strong showings two and three back encourage. Trainer: He got jammed up behind a breaker last week. Hopefully he can beat his stablemate.
3 Gambler's Tale He rises amid good form, pressing into a narrow defeat in the G-Notes consolation last week. Solid presser-stalker type is amply sharp.
4 Totally Dreamy His dead-heat win three back came off live cover. Most recently, he could mount mild gains off fourth-over cover. Be wary of value offered.
5 Ideal Willie Plainridge invader stayed on for third with similar last week, but gained mild ground into a rather slow pace. Expect stouter circumstances here.
6 Dancin Hill Gingras teamed up with this 11-year-old for a runner-up effort three back. They're reunited following an even attempt last week.
7 Classic American N While he drew away as the pace folded two back, he made no impression from post 10 last out despite a :27.1 LQ. Class hike gives some pause.
8 Fool of Ideas Following a gritty front-end win at Pocono two back, he rallied to just miss second by a length at this level last week. Strong value play in exotics.
9 Bold and Brave He hit the board in three straight, pressing and staying on for third at this level in last week's local debut. He looks able to overcome the wide draw.
10 Track Master D Despite an even third-place finish with similar at Philly last out, he's forced to contend with a poor draw this time around. Trip and pace dictate all.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 8-9-6-5
H Horse Comment
1 Willie Boots The 21-time winner makes his second start in 7-1/2 months and his first since August. Noting six who drop to this level, he's got a tough task ahead.
2 Elrama N He debuts for Russo after mounting strong gains from off the pace against $20k types at Pocono last week. Class relief can aid; variables abound.
3 JJ Shark He drops in class for the third straight week after only mustering minor checks of late. Can reach exotics with live flow noting mild staying power.
4 That's My Opinion After losing cover last week, he kept up progress into a no-match second behind Savage Seelster at healthy odds. Good bounce-back effort.
5 Somesizesomestyle He battled heartily at Pocono last week, but was worn down in the slop. Class relief and a kinder journey both can help. He fits well here.
6 Parnu Hanover Erv Miller trainee beat similar from off cover at Tioga in August, and he makes his second start back tonight. Late gains last week encourage.
7 Caviart Key Pocono invader circled wide to make 4-1/2 lengths in the last quarter last out. Further relief should aid; minor consideration with favorable trip.
8 Stimulus Plan He carries the form edge following back-to-back wins over $10k types. He fought grittily to capture the G-Notes final last week; outside post no issue. Trainer: Steps up again, but I donÕt see many horses in there as hot as him, especially since heÕs versatile.
9 My Temudjin N He was no menace at Pocono last week, but not lacking for pace. Reunited with Gingras after they teamed up to contend with similar at Philly.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 2-6-3-1a
H Horse Comment
1 Great Soul Despite a pocket trip behind dueling leaders last week, he came up empty in the straight. Not incapable at the level noting win off cover four back.
1a CC Jermey Last week, he passed tired foes at 48-1 to earn a minor check following a staying effort to capture third at Freehold. Needs to be closer for best.
1b Keystone Camaro While a likely catalyst for pace pressure noting recent lines, he hasn't stayed on all that well. He'll require a kinder journey from this outside post.
2 Esprit de Kayjay A Gritty first-over winner last week carries a solid form edge into tonight's final. He's capable from on the lead or pressing the pace alike. Strong.
2a Brick Bazooka He upset at 19-1 in pillar-to-post fashion in the Freehold leg before landing close and staying on last week. He overcame post 9 OK last time, note.
3 David On Ice Stalking type overcame his odds in a big way twice at this level, most recently lunging after Esprit de Kayjay at 18-1. Overlay potential abounds.
4 Workandplayhard He pushed well off live cover last week, but was overpowered by the late-emerging Sea Harrier. Prior outings didn't yield the same pop, though.
5 Fly'n With Royalty Despite his showing up late for second two back, he proved no threat in a first-level Freehold race since. Others seem better suited to the task.
6 Our Cullenscrown N He gave way late last week after responding to pressure a quarter from home. Prove $7.5k type picks up Marohn tonight; needs to be close.
7 Falcon Justice Minor consideration in exotics rallied well off cover to take third at 26-1 two back, but failed to last on the lead last week. Outside draw may sting.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 4-8-10-6-5
H Horse Comment
1 Relentless Dreamer He's failed to hit the board in his last three tries at this level despite a brief three-wide bid in upper stretch last time. Others seem better suited.
2 Sly Ruler He showed good late kick at Monticello last out, lunging from the pocket and just missing. While this is a healthy step up, he should be close again.
3 Ideal Legacy A The 13-time winner returns to action following a 5-1/2 month layoff and a pretty good qualifier. He may well need the race to achieve peak fitness.
4 Broadies Song He's back in for $10k after emerging from traffic and staying on for a minor share last week. Raw speed edge is clear; improved fight encourages. Trainer: Showed signs of improvement last week after being off his game. Hope to keep that going.
5 Overloaded He improved at double digits in his last two outings, rallying from off the pace for third at Pocono last week. Moves laterally with good momentum.
6 IYQ YQR Brett Miller takes over on the 5-time winner who lacked badly in the straight in both local efforts. Can he help this one do more with decent speed?
7 KJ Erich After steadying briefly on the first turn last week, he worked to pass tired rivals up the pegs. While a better trip can aid, others boast better form.
8 Twincreeks Jack He hit the board in three straight, just missing similar last week after splitting rivals and charging out of traffic. Clearer sailing can only help. Trainer: Ran out of racetrack last week. Needs to be covered up and will sprint home well.
9 Mr Julian Outside chance for High Five plays circled up five-wide to pass tired foes late last week. This group shapes up to pose less of a challenge.
10 I Found My Beach Give him respect for a solid first-over push in his last, but he's been off for three weeks since. Will the time off serve to freshen him up?