Handicapping

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  • Week Of 1/31 - 2/6
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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 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 Friday, February 05, 2016

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 7-8-9-1
H Horse Comment
1 MUSCLES MY WAY This mare's been off three weeks, stepping into a tougher group here. Inside draw should yield an easier journey.
2 PARIS HOLIDAY Recent qualifiers haven't impressed, and in the fall he struggled with maidens at Vernon. This remains too tall a task.
3 TRUST FUND BABY In two local tries, he's stayed even for minor checks at this level. Mild improvement a plus; time off a concern.
4 ROSE RUN QUICKLEY Recent gait issues concern, but excuse his 12/18 miscue due to interference. Watch; assess true ability.
5 HERCU LINDY Outside draws troubled him at Yonkers, but he made a solid four-wide bid locally three back. Returns to a kinder spot.
6 DOUBLE L LINDY This first-time starter rallied mildly in upper stretch in his 1/22 qualifier. He's in a tough spot for his debut; assess.
7 BJANTHONY Since arriving at the Big M, he's shown sharp efforts at this level. Versatility is a plus, noting pacesetting, pressing, and stalking efforts. Plenty to like right now. Trainer: Trained two trips well. Seeking to turn tables after rough trip last week.
8 CURFEW He returns of a win which saw him carefully hand-driven through deep stretch. Two-time winner at this class seems best suited on the front. Judge value accordingly. Trainer: Should be even better with last week's start under his belt.
9 CELEBRITY MASSIVE He's made late inroads at this level, rallying beautifully to catch the first flight last week. Minor consideration.
10 HIPPITY HOP Another first-time starter, she's shown a bit more potential since adding hopples. Solid closing sectionals encourage.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 6-5-7-4
H Horse Comment
1 FLYHAWK EL DURADO The switch to the big track may well alleviate this one's breaking issuesÑhe's gone sub-1:53 over two turns. Inside draw should enable a cozy trip, but he's up against a fairly tall task.
2 A LITTLE MORE LOVE He managed an ideal trip last week, but failed to go on after tipping three-wide. Seems best just a step below.
3 BOURBON BAY The track record holder at Tioga qualified well for new connections last week. He was dominant at Saratoga in the fall, and it's not unfathomable for him to set the pace here. Probably just a bit below the top few here, though.
4 UVA HANOVER He's hit the board in 3 of 4 tries at this level, but first-over advances have come up short. Solid minor consideration.
5 DETROIT RAPPER The inclusion of Bourbon Bay could be the key for this one, as he does his best work into a contested pace. If #3, #4, #6, and #7 mix it up, this one can emerge for a mild upset.
6 OPULENT YANKEE He's rounded into form in recent weeks, winning two back and chasing from the pocket last time. Easily the class of this group. Trainer: Been racing great at Open level. Consistent.
7 CAN DO Versatility is his greatest attribute, as he's won at this level from on the lead or from a late surge out of traffic. He's got options, to be sure. Mind value. Trainer: Has been racing better than ever. Came out of his last race well; hoping for a nice race despite having the outside against his old stablemate Bourbon Bay.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 6-2-7-4
H Horse Comment
1 MR LOVER A new arrival from Toronto, he seemed largely overmatched in N4/120k races. Class relief should aid; variables remain.
2 LONG STORY SHORT He's raced well since arriving, but his first-over push last week came up short in the final eighth. Can strike from a cozier spot. Trainer: Trained well. Expect him to be better than last week.
3 OVER AND OUT Belated gains put him on the board at this level twice at Yonkers. Moves laterally; fits and plays with a stalking trip.
4 B L CLASS ACT He looked defeated for second in mid-stretch last week, but he fought valiantly to reclaim the place spot well behind Ulster. Class relief helped, and his form is improving too.
5 SHANGHAI JACK Prior to a 7-week layoff, he lacked in similar events. He qualified decently for new connections; watch and assess.
6 SUPER CLASSIC His bold 3-wide push at 21-1 last week should garner ample respect here. Steps down; isn't hindered by the draw. Trainer: Gets to drop down, but into the ÒAÓ division of this class. Had a nice week.
7 HILL I AM In his first race in 5-1/2 months, he rallied up the pegs to just miss second. Faces similar, should be tighter in his second try.
8 LUCKY MASS He lacked for staying power late last week after he was locked in on the far turn. Others seem sharper right now.
9 R SAM Another outside draw is no help for the 9-year-old, but he steps back down to a winning level. Minimal pace on paper concerns.
10 TOSS CARTWRIGHT Debuts for new connections from a tough spot after two good qualifiers. Staying power his strongest attribute.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 9-4-2-8
H Horse Comment
1 ODDS ON AVENTURE She had an ideal trip last week, but lacked for kick off the far turn. Draws inside, but faces 5 stepping down.
2 VILLAGE JESSICA Two recent pacesetting efforts both saw her defeated gamely in the final eighth. She's got a clear form edge here. Trainer: Went a long way on the lead last week; raced great again. Any type of breather this week and she's good enough to win.
3 SHERKIN HANOVER She's missed the board in her last five, but do note she steps down off a respectable first-over bid at Yonkers.
4 BLACK MAGIC EYES In 4 local outings, she demonstrated consistent ability to progress late. Class and post relief could be the keys.
5 SENORITA SANTANNA In two recent starts at Dover, she's shown even finishes. Steps down, but others boast form edges.
6 PRECIOUS ROSE N While a post 10 winner in her last, she had the aid of a pocket trip. Can stay on for a share with a clear journey.
7 EXOTIC BEACH Last week, she only managed to find room in the final sixteenth, passing four horses to save third. Another possibility to round out exotics.
8 RIGHTLY SAID This mare battled into the lead at the eighth pole last week, only to be just collared by her pocket rival. Grit and fortitude trump a narrow pocket win in judging ability.
9 CLORIS HANOVER She tripped out for a win over second-level types three back, more recently staying even in heavy traffic. Class relief helps, and so will a clearer shot in the stretch. Trainer: Had a good week. Not a fan of post 9, but she hasn't faced this soft of competition in a while.
10 TWIN B ELITE Her 1/15 line gets my attention for sure, but this spot seems to get in the way of her strengths. Mild step down.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 3-8-5-1
H Horse Comment
1 JACKIE GOLDSTEIN Once he found room up the pegs last week, he improved mildly. Inside draw can only help him get closer.
2 BLOOMFIELDCANTIFLY Another one who made mild gains in her last two, she finds extreme post relief tonight. Needs ideal trip.
3 IM NOT VANILLA He kicked clear at 16-1 on debut last week, but had the aid of a live second-over trip. Returns at that winning level. Trainer: Came out of last race great. Back in one week for the first time in a while; expecting him to be good. Very sharp right now.
4 SHARP EDGE Despite a post 10 dispatch last week, he made good belated gains while four-wide. Closer cover puts him back in contention. Trainer: Did not train this week since he's back in six days. I think he should be good getting right back in to race.
5 SHEER FLEX Finished evenly in his two most recent tries. He exits last week's fastest first-level race, but others seem a bit sharper.
6 MAGNUM KOSMOS He was gathered in off two pacesetting efforts locally, vaulting clear from post 9 last week. Kinder draw helps; still lacks staying power.
7 SHOW BIZ HALL Excuse last week's line due to the break. Prior N3L outings yielded better; minor choice here if he stays on task.
8 PINSTRIPE PROMISE Two solid qualifiers paired with minor success last year against tougher make him likable on debut. Can stay on.
9 FICO Continued class relief should help, but this 6-year-old has been a non-factor in 5 recent tries. Post hinders; may still need the start.
10 FEISTY LOVE While a winner two back off an extended three-wide push, her last was lackluster. Post 10 proves an added obstacle.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 4-6-10-2
H Horse Comment
1 HOME TURF He chased Open-class trotters in his qualifier last week. While stepping down from tougher, he may need a race to get fit.
2 KEYSTONE THOMAS He eked out a pocket win at this level five back, earning minor checks thrice since. Figures to be prominent.
3 MAJESTIC STONE After three-wide cover failed to tow him closer last week, he angled one path farther and surged to the fore. Steps up off a mighty effort.
4 NORTHERN GRACE Her first-over bid two back earned much respect, though she may have been a bit flat last week after three weeks off. Comes right back; proven at this level. Trainer: Had a tie-up issue last week after three weeks off. Expecting much improved effort.
5 ITS PAYDAY FRIDAY This top-level Tioga and Pompano trotter just recently shipped north. Watch and assess, but worth a shot at double digits.
6 BLUE MUSE She led briefly last week, only to be eclipsed by the four-wide Worth the Money As. Consistently strong staying power in like events make her a contender. Trainer: Raced very well last time, trained well this week.
7 NEVER EVER CLEVER While she's had enough for minor checks in three tries against similar, others pose stronger finishing threats.
8 DREAMS OF THUNDER Sustained bids well at Yonkers two and three back. Comes back to two turns; can overcome stalled cover.
9 STONEBRIDGE IDOL While a winner two back, he was gathered in late at this level last week. Draws farther out; faces sharper.
10 DREAM ROCKER He stepped up to this level admirably last week, chasing well but outkicked late. Post 10 hinders; staying power helps.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 8-9-3-6
H Horse Comment
1 MONTENEGRO She battled early to clear two others before yielding in her last, then chased stoutly. Major post relief can truly aid. Trainer: Had a good week; seems good. Happy with her.
2 LOONEY DUNE She fought gamely at Saratoga in her last, losing the Open by just a length. Debuts for Simons; may need the race. Trainer: She's only been in my barn for about a month. Trained down well; qualified handily.
3 GWENEEEE J A winner twice in her last four, she steps up after kicking clear last week. This task is made less daunting by her consistently strong finishes. Trainer: Has a new driver and is up in class, but she raced well in her last. With a trip she should be fine.
4 CAMPANILE In two local starts, she chased for small shares at long odds. She may still be in a bit too tough, but a spot in tris and superfectas isn't out of the question with live cover. Trainer: Having a good week. Trained strongly.
5 DOBRE POVEDANE Three recent starts have been lackluster, with the mare struggling to get involved. Wait for improvement. Trainer: Except for her last mile at Yonkers, her miles have improved. Hopefully she fits better this week and can pick up a check without being demoralized. Seems to be acting the same this week as she has been.
6 MISSSOMEBEACH BLUE A logical price play, she held sway three back and rallied off cover for third last week. Give consideration to her :26.2 last quarter two back. Trainer: Has been racing well. Trained well again this week.
7 CLEAR VIEW HANOVER A solid third-level performer steps up off a decisive two-move effort. On the improve; can pounce in ideal circumstances. Trainer: Got a week off after her win; trained great at home. Tougher class this week, but she is pretty tough herself, too. Very sharp right now.
8 RADAR CONTACT She comes back off a brief layoff, having held her own against similar at Philly in December. Sharp qualifier indicates fitness. Trainer: Freshened up; should be ready to go.
9 NOT BEFORE EIGHT This stalker-closer rose to this level well last time, sustaining a bid to miss Tessa Seelster for the second straight week. Monstrous :25.4 last quarter five back instills confidence. Trainer: Drew post 9 in a tough bunch after missing a week. Going to need some things to go her way.
10 GIRLLOOKATTHATBODY Michigan fair circuit standout just reeled off four solid efforts at Yonkers. Makes a lateral move; post 10 proves an obstacle against early involvement. Trainer: Steps up; trained well. Will be her 1st start on the big track; her sire loved the Big M.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 4-5-2-6
H Horse Comment
1 SWEET JUSTICE He chased well up the pegs last week, but was outkicked by a clear third-over foe. Improving; inside draw helps.
2 T JS MR LAVEC Outperformed his odds twice in a row, just beaten last week by the streaking Magenta Man. Logical inclusion here.
3 TWO HIP DIP Mild gains off cover yielded him minor checks of late. He could well be better from nearer the pace, noting two back.
4 LAZURUS A consistent late threat at this level, he came up just short from first-over last time. Long-term form indicates better. Trainer: Racing well at this level. If the trip works out for him, I think he has a big chance.
5 FOX VALLEY LEGEND The big question: will he have enough of a contested pace in front of him? Mid-race pressure from #8 or #10 can really help. Trainer: Trained well, and everything is fine with him. May need a class drop if no good this week.
6 STITCH IN TIME While his pillar-to-post win last time earned respect, he only stayed even with similar foes two back. Minor choice.
7 I C CAVIAR He's lacked against tougher at Yonkers, and his most recent outing begs excusing due to a break. Wait for improvement.
8 HOUSE OF CASH He just held sway at this level three back, but lacked late twice since. Too many strong finishers in this group.
9 BALLARE HANOVER Steps up off a pocket win, drawing off in hand last week. Post 9 hinders, but she shows promising staying power.
10 WINDSONG ILLUSION Another one rising, his first-over effort last week earned respect. Class jump and outside draw both impose.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 4-7-1-5
H Horse Comment
1 B YOYO Steps down off a pair of admirable Open 2 outings, but he's been off 3 weeks since. Inside draw should help him stay sharp late.
2 BORN TO FIGHT Following a pair of good chasing efforts, he rises into an extremely tough group. Few options for cover present.
3 HYWAY MARCUS He rises after being elevated to victory at Yonkers two weeks ago, worn down in his most recent local try. Others pose major class edges.
4 OPENING NIGHT The class of the field returns off a single qualifier. He's been off 8-1/2 months, but he seems amply fit. Judge value. Trainer: Qualified well, hasn't raced since the summer. Trained well.
5 CROSBYS CLAM BAKE An upset Open winner in the fall, he's held well among top-level Yonkers groups. Returns; finds some relief.
6 MARCH AWARENESS An Open 2 winner three back took advantage of the pocket. Steps down in his second start for McDermott.
7 LAUDERDALE His decisive win last week could well be indicative of a return to prior form, but this group is much tougher than those he wired. Trainer: Consistency isn't his strong suit but he is feeling good. Hoping to keep him that way.
8 WORTH THE MONEY AS Also stepping up off a third-level win, but seems best suited from off the pace. Lack of pressure concerns.
9 MODEST PRINCE Despite a sharp qualifier last week, he was hit-or-miss through the fall. Watch and assess; too many unknowns still.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 6-10-5-2
H Horse Comment
1 ALWAYS ABOUT KATEY Labored late from a blind switch last week. Steps down and draws inside, but others show better form.
2 LET HER ROCK She returns to a winning level here after traffic and outside draws troubled her. This spot suits well given inside draw.
3 BULLVILLE MAGGIE A first-over winner in a first-level spot two back, she stayed well last time. Invading class-droppers pose threat.
4 LEAN ON YOURSELF Her most recent win came in a first-level Philly race off a cozy pocket trip. She's struggled to stay on since.
5 MAJOR DANCER Even finishes among tougher at YR are promising, and the switch to two turns should enable even better late kick.
6 PURITY Her lunging bid off cover against two back demands respect, and she was just collared at this level last week. Plenty to like. Trainer: Had another good week.
7 HAPPILY EVER AFTER Post 10 got in her way last week, as she wasn't lacking for late pace. She returns to a more competitive class. Trainer: Trained well this week.
8 FUTURE LIFE A winner in 3 straight at Freehold, she kept even up the pegs at this level last week. Midpack speed her greatest obstacle.
9 CAVIART SHELLY Even and mildly-gaining finishes at Yonkers against tougher are promising. Step down negated by outside draw.
10 SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR Her monstrous five-wide rally last week earned respect. She starts farther out, but has massive potential.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 3-7-4-2
H Horse Comment
1 MAGGLIO Mild improvement last time shows he's getting on the right track, but recent sickness concerns. May need this start.
2 MY HEIDI Excuse her break last time, and give credit to her circling first-over press two back. Inside draw should help if she can stay on task. Trainer: Never made the gate last week, which is unusual for her. Have to throw that race out and give her another chance.
3 ANDOVERS TOUCH A new arrival from Ottawa via the sale, he qualified well last week. Seems to be a good stalker-closer type. Trainer: Bought from Mixed Sale. Don't know a lot about him, but he qualified well.
4 MAUREL N HARDY He steps down from recent Meadows outings which yielded mixed results. Mild closing ability is a plus in here.
5 AMARCORD He posed no threat in two recent tries, but managed to stay even on both occasions. Assess ability to get involved.
6 WISHIN IWAS FISHIN He broke in his last local try, catching the field but tailing off subsequently. It seems he needs to be close up.
7 DOWNUNDERMATTER Rallied well for third against similar at Yonkers in his last, but that was 2-1/2 weeks ago. Minor consideration.
8 CHARMEDNDANGEROUS She makes a massive step up from even finishes at Freehold. Assess ability to rise in class for next time.
9 TOO MUCH HANOVER Seems to be on a downswing of late, lacking in his last three at Freehold since edging clear of $10k foes.
10 MARIO BI Post 10 gets in the way here despite him showing better staying power in his 1/29 qualifier than many. Debuts for Dane.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 2-7-4-3
H Horse Comment
1 OFFICIAL BELLE Prior to a transport scratch on 1/22, she only mustered even finishes at this level. Needs a clearer, closer spot.
2 LIZZIE'S DREAM She's rallied to earn minor checks in her last three tries. Finds a softer spot here; sustained progress is a big plus. Trainer: In good order. Training well, just needs a good trip.
3 MISS DEFIANCE She was blocked late last week after being caught in a rearward blind switch. Post relief helps; major value option.
4 DEPTH MORE DEPTH A 12-1 winner at this level three back, she sustained an uncovered push to just prevail. Horses for courses?
5 MADDIE D Mustered even finishes from difficult spots at Yonkers. Ships into a soft spot; assess finishing ability on the long stretch.
6 MS BETTYS HOPE While a pocket winner at Freehold two back, this spot proved too tough last time. Others suit much better.
7 DELTA DAWN HANOVER Her strength late in the mile has improved steadily since arriving. Last week, she was just outkicked by Precious Rose. Assess the latter's performance in the fourth.
8 BRING THEM HOME Just collared in a game stretch battle last week. She stayed on OK the week prior, too. Improving.
9 SWEET TIME While she passed 6 horses in the stretch last week, her effort didn't impress. Needs similar racing luck with outside draw.
10 BEAVERCREEK ANNIE A four-wide bid from the back failed to materialize last week, yet she stayed better when close up two back. Lack of early speed could help.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 5-6-4-8
H Horse Comment
1 WYGANT PRINCESS While she draws more favorably this week, she was no menace in two recent tries. Wait for improvement.
2 BROADWAY ROCKS He was a decisive winner in his last, but he makes a double jump on the ship north. Seems a bit too daunting.
3 HANRAHAN Class and post relief both await this one. Two back at this level, he just missed up the pegs at 47-1. Capable with room.
4 TUSCANELLIE After early exertion last time, she lacked off the far turn. She's well proven against tougher N5L types at Philly. Trainer: Needed last start. Been training well since.
5 NATURAL KEMP Could he be rounding back into form? He finds a kinder midpack starting spot, and he held his own with N3L types earlier in the meet. Trainer: Hampered by post 10 last week. Hope to be up close and take advantage of favorable post shift.
6 MADMAN HALL He qualified well last week, accelerating to hold sway. He held his own with like groups at Pocono at Woodbine; seems to fit well here especially if uncontested. Trainer: Turned out all week.
7 BROOKROAD KNIGHT He failed to repeat his massive inside rally from 1/22 last week, just even in the stretch. Hard to assess.
8 SCORCHER HALL He stayed even among similar in his last two. He does have some closing ability, though. Minor consideration.
9 PLAYBOY RUSTY He's proven no menace in three local tries, failing to close a gap in his last. Outside post negates class relief.
10 SOAPY SAP Another one who failed to threaten of late, she had mild trot in traffic at this level last time. Post 10 hinders greatly.
14 Fourteenth Race Entries
Picks: 7-9-6-3
H Horse Comment
1 J R JAZZ While he draws inside for the second time in three weeks, he lacked from the pocket two back. Others show better late.
2 ORANGE BIGI She progressed well in the late stages last week, swinging four-wide to save third at 15-1. Inside draw can surely aid. Trainer: Ran into traffic last week; came out of the race well. Campbell said she was game last week and chose her again. Had a good week training.
3 KEYSTONE TREVOR Despite a slow start last time, he passed foes up the pegs late. Post relief suits his preferred racing style better.
4 MUSCERENE Early exertion did him no favors against tougher last time, as he tailed off late. Stayed on better at this level two back.
5 J P SEVENTY THREE He gapped second-over on debut last week, fading late. Prior outings show little in the way of potential.
6 PROVE UP He overcame dull cover to save fourth at this level last time. Draws a bit better; can round out exotics with a better trip.
7 POPPY SYDNEY RIDGE He acquitted himself well last week, chasing strongly from the pocket. Boasts the best form of any here.
8 MC TINY'S HOPE Debuts for Mike Simons off a respectable qualifier, but steps up from mid-level Vernon races. Watch and assess.
9 ONLY IN MY DREAMS Battled gamely against similar last week, fading in mid-stretch after a middle move. On the improve, it seems. Trainer: Had a wall separation for the past two months. It is growing out and he's gotten stronger with each start.
10 BIG BANG HANOVER Made good late gains off cover last week once dropping to this level. Post 10 hinders, but he's improving, too.