Race Reviews

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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 12, 2016

1 First Race Entries
Picks: 4-7-9-1
H Horse Comment
1 MR LUCKY LUKE Makes his second start back after gapping the pocket 2 weeks ago. Expect better staying power; inside draw helps.
2 ELUSIVE ACTION He's struggled to get involved of late at this level, although he made late progress off cover two and four back.
3 HERCU LINDY His four-wide rally four back was worthy of respect, but he's leveled off some since. Minor option with right trip.
4 HIPPITY HOP Not only is this her second career start, but she finds extreme post relief off a more than respectable debut. Capable. Trainer: Got talent. Bringing along slowly.
5 PINK PISTOL She makes her first start back in 7 months, qualifying sharply last week. She seems to have matured; big late kick a plus.
6 THE BAKERS CHOICE Faltered among tougher at Pocono in the fall, but qualified well last week. Debuts for Simons; mind gait issues.
7 CURFEW Prior to his break amid a leave attempt last week, he wired these at odds-on. Looks to redeem himself and can; mind value. Trainer: Had vet work done, so hopefully better.
8 MOLON LAVE Qualified smoothly last week after a violent gallop on 1/29. Draws outside again; newcomers impress a fair bit.
9 ROSE RUN QUICKLEY This one rallied well to be a no-match second on debut last week. Comes right back; figures to be sharper.
10 CELEBRITY MASSIVE A third straight outside draw is no help. When right, he's got good staying power, but gait issues concern.
2 Second Race Entries
Picks: 6-7-5-4
H Horse Comment
1 JOHNS POLYVIEW While he steps down, he showed worse staying ability last week than in 2 previous tries. Wait for improvement.
2 NF DRUM ROLL Give him a pass last week on account of early exertion and far turn traffic. A clearer, kinder journey should aid.
3 DRUNKEN TERROR He gained late last week once carried four-wide off excess cover. Draws better here, but faces tougher foes.
4 CASH CAB He's stayed on admirably in two tries, just outkicked last week in the faster division. Has my respect; solid minor option.
5 THE POKESTER After losing cover a quarter out last wee, he pushed to a brief lead on debut before You Bet Your Glass outkicked him. Gritty veteran suits well here. Trainer: Good effort last week off a layoff. Should be better.
6 AROCKIN HANOVER Drops back to a winning level after a mild bid last time. Figures to be the target here noting track record against $10k types; seek value in exotics noting lack of pressure. Trainer: Seems OK, trained fine on Tuesday.
7 BACKDRAFT HANOVER Respect his gritty two-move effort last week despite late defeat. Debuts for white-hot Michael Russo tonight. Trainer: Just got this guy; seems to fit this class.
8 LADY'S BAG MAN While a mid-level winner at Freehold, this task just seems a bit too tall. Outside post will hinder involvement.
9 AVENUE HANOVER A 29-1 upset winner in his last, he kicked cover striking in the last 40 yards. Figures to be a bit farther back here.
10 BEAT OF NY This is a severe class drop, from upper-level Dover and Yonkers events to a $10k claimer. Caveat emptor from post 10.
3 Third Race Entries
Picks: 5-1-9-7
H Horse Comment
1 STIRLING ACCORD He jumps considerably from lower-level Monticello races, but he won for fun in his last. Inside draw a sure help. Trainer: Tougher competition than his past few races; needs right trip. Should be sharp off back-to-back wins, plus the inside draw helps.
2 COOL BEANS Gait issues and taxing trips haven't been any help in 2016. He fared OK among similar at Philly; picks up Campbell here.
3 J P SEVENTY THREE Despite late advances last week, he struggled to keep close on the far turn. Others seem better suited.
4 ONLY IN MY DREAMS Following a gritty effort two back and an even finish last time, he draws more centrally. Figures with cover.
5 DOWNUNDERMATTER Shows a fair bit of promise, rallying well in his last two. Good local staying power is a major help in this fairly soft group. Trainer: Racing back-to-back should help this week. Good post, same driver, very hopeful.
6 MYSTICALMAN One of two stepping up and shipping in off a win, he just held for a nose at 13-1 over Freehold N2L types. Can close mildly from stalking trips. Trainer: Came out of his last race a winner; felt sharp the next day. Trained 2:15 on Tuesday; trained well.
7 AMARCORD While recent tries haven't yielded great results, he's managed even finishes with consistency. Live cover can aid.
8 TAKE HEART He's lacked in four recent outings, and tonight's outside draw exacerbates those issues all the more. Wait for progress.
9 PROVE UP It's high time he gets some respect, as he sustained late gains to take fourth in his last two tries. Fits and plays in exotics.
10 LUNCH TIME She makes her second start back, but lacked late on debut against similar. Post 10 no aid; too many variables in play.
4 Fourth Race Entries
Picks: 9-2-1-5
H Horse Comment
1 PHOTO KING In his last, he was blocked while even after ducking excess cover. Draws more favorably; picks up Brett Miller.
2 PINSTRIPE PROMISE Despite gait issues on debut, he showed glimmers of ability. Figures to be a factor if on task. Trainer: Out of his mind behind the gate last week. This week we will handle him carefully to keep him off the qualifying list; at his best he can win.
3 SCOTTISH BLUE While he steps up and debuts off a short layoff, he demonstrates some of the best staying power in the group. A close, clear trip keeps him in the hunt.
4 KAMERON P Breaks in two of his last three concern, but he's held his own with tougher when on task. Demand suitable value.
5 CHARMEDNDANGEROUS Once free in the final sixteenth last week, she made ground willingly. Picks up Tetrick; ample potential.
6 MC TINY'S HOPE Makes her second start back after a taxing effort last week. Kinder trip a must after her uncovered push last week.
7 POP MY BUTTONS Since leaving Saratoga, she's disappointed in terms of staying power against similar foes. Wait for better form.
8 CHOCOHOLIC Time off is the greatest concern with her, especially noting the sick scratch 3 weeks ago. OK with these when right.
9 DIVINATION Rallied mildly 3 back against just tougher at 1m2f, and stayed on decently in 3 local tries prior. Figures with cover trip.
10 BRYAN'S ANGEL A lack of staying power concerns, as do the time off and outside draw. Others seem much more logical.
5 Fifth Race Entries
Picks: 9-2-10-1
H Horse Comment
1 MISS DEFIANCE Steps up off a win after wedging out and kicking clear. Picks up Miller; draws favorably. Still, faces strong droppers.
2 CLORIS HANOVER This is a winning level for her, noting her second-over spotting four back. Good chasing effort last time gives plenty to like. Trainer: Came out of last week well. Trip matters.
3 VICTORIA MAY N While making her 2nd start back, one should excuse last week's Yonkers line from post 8. Others still suit better.
4 LEAN ON YOURSELF While caught in traffic last week, she did little to overcome it from 5th-over. Back against similar; tall task again.
5 SHERKIN HANOVER Her 16-1 win visually impressed, but she kicked live second-over cover en route. Steps up into a stouter group.
6 MOJARRA HANOVER Twice a winner to close out 2015, she stayed for a share against similar two back. Needs a cozy cover trip.
7 ICAPELLA HANOVER Steps down from N6L types at Yonkers, but her last two tries seem a bit flat. Relief can aid this stalker-closer.
8 SANDY HOOK HANOVER She's been off over a month, and recent finishes have lacked despite this step down. Wait for progress.
9 APRICOT SOUR Another class-dropper from Yonkers, she's shown better staying power off cover. Tim's choice; relief helps too. Trainer: Raced OK from a bad post last race, had a brutal trip the race prior. Draws poorly again; will need some luck.
10 HAPPINESS A beaten favorite last time, she faded off a solid first-over push through the far turn. Capable when right; post concerns.
6 Sixth Race Entries
Picks: 6-10-2-9
H Horse Comment
1 PHOTO MASS Mild gains two and three back are promising, but his first-over press last week came up short. Draws similarly; kinder trip a big help. Trainer: Missed a week from racing, so we trained him harder. Trained great.
2 R SAM While no factor in his last two, he draws 7 spots nearer the pegs tonight. Second-over winner among like 5 back; can contend.
3 SUPER CLASSIC Despite a break last time, he caught the field and passed the tired. Held his own with cover against tougher 2 back.
4 WISHIN IWAS FISHIN Gait issues and lackluster outings have plagued him of late. Picks up Campbell, but lacks others' form.
5 SHOW BIZ HALL Give credit to the effort he exerted while parked for the middle half last week. Gingras on; kinder trip a sure help.
6 DULUTH Tetrick's choice of four stayed on well at Yonkers among similar last time. Was capable in top-level Saratoga outings, too. Plenty going the right way with him.
7 MUSCERENE Heavy traffic trouble really got in the way last week, as he wasn't free until deep stretch. Seems best when prominent.
8 BELL A CHICK He finished his qualifier well last week, but recent qualifier DQs and scratches perplex. Too many variables present.
9 CAPRICCIO HANOVER Prior to last week's break, he kicked cover to win at 32-1 and stayed even with similar. A factor with cover.
10 MONTALBANO BI In his first three starts back, he showed strong staying power against like rivals. Forgive last week's break, but post 10 adds an extra challenge. Trainer: Broke last time. Tough spot from post 10.
7 Seventh Race Entries
Picks: 6-10-5-9
H Horse Comment
1 ANGELS RANSOM Continued class and post relief are bound to help this second-time O'Sullivan starter. Excuse his break at Yonkers.
2 MACK'S GOLD BAND Despite post relief, gait issues and a lack of involvement of late both concern. Others seem more logical plays.
3 BALLARE HANOVER She drops to a winning level after chasing tougher, but she had the aid of the pocket in her triumph. Capable with right circumstances. Trainer: Good effort last week up a class. Back into winning level.
4 CAPTAIN PRIMEAU The 36-time winner draws much more favorably in this kinder spot. May need this race, but he can factor for a share with live cover. Trainer: Should get a piece here; don't see him winning, though.
5 EXQUISITE GLIDE Last summer, he showed even finishes in similar fields, since qualifying well twice. May likewise need a start for optimal fitness, but he's got the staying power to contend. Trainer: Two good qualifiers after a deserved rest. Lands a nice spot inside, but may need the race against a solid group.
6 HANRAHAN Steps down after a gritty first-over duel to take second behind Scorcher Hall. Two of his last three efforts were solid. Trainer: Came out of last race good. Has been coming around in last few. Down in class; hoping for good trip.
7 BIG BANG HANOVER He's shown much improved kick off cover since dropping to this level. Definitely on the improve; #6 and #10 can augment this one's value. Trainer: Raced well last week. Had a good week; looking for same performance.
8 SWEET JUSTICE Outside draw negates class relief, as recent success came when this one was prominent without much effort.
9 TOSS CARTWRIGHT He makes his second start back off a respectable finish. Expect a bit better, but this group is a tough stouter. Trainer: Drew poorly again. He's not ready to race with two moves, so his one move will have to get it done. Trip will mean everything.
10 ANDOVERS TOUCH He won on debut at odds-on, kicking clear and holding sway from Too Much Hanover, who rallied from fourth-over. Post 10 is the biggest obstacle for this one who's back at a winning level via the optional tag. Trainer: Raced well last week. Still trying to line his gait out.
8 Eigth Race Entries
Picks: 8-6-7-3
H Horse Comment
1 GWENEEEE J After defeating third-level foes two back, she battled gamely at this level last time. Consistent stalker-closer keeps Zeron.
2 NOT BEFORE EIGHT Massive rallied in recent outings attract ample attention. Extreme post relief can only help, noting her sustained fourth-over bid last time.
3 GIRLLOOKATTHATBODY Ignored at 39-1 last week, yet still managed to save fifth from post 10 with a strong late gain. Post relief should aid a more prominent spot, but she proved her versatility on local debut.
4 LIGHTNING PAIGE Makes her first start back since September after two decent qualifiers. Seems just a notch below these.
5 PURITY The double jump off a win worries me, especially noting the strength of her outside rivals. Still, she's not by any means incapable.
6 CLEAR VIEW HANOVER Tetrick opted off this one who seeks a repeat win at this class. Sharp as they come right now; can contend. Trainer: Raced great last week, feels fantastic at home. Tougher again, JC knows her well.
7 INITTOWINAFORTUNE Her last two lines at Yonkers show better fitness than her 2016 debut three back. Rounding into form. Trainer: Has a few tightening races under her belt now; should be ready.
8 GALLIE BYTHE BEACH When we last saw her, she was a late-rallying second in the TVG final. Class edge is apparent; Tetrick opts. Trainer: Qualified very well; had a good week.
9 Ninth Race Entries
Picks: 8-9-10-1
H Horse Comment
1 ROCK OF CASHEL What an impressive qualifier last week! He charged home off cover, and he finds class relief here. Much improved.
2 GREY ICE Despite an even finish last week at this level, he faces yet another fairly stout field. Needs a lot to go his way in this one.
3 MADHATTER BLUECHIP A 29-1 winner in his last local try, he finds relief from recent Yonkers outings. Capable if prominent.
4 CINCINNATI MISS While moving up from her last, she's in at a winning level. That said, so are four others in this group.
5 HOT TYPE First start for MacKenzie after a sick scratch on 1-29. He was even at this level in his last, but hasn't raced in four weeks.
6 BASTILLE He's not raced in nearly 2 months, yet fits at this level when in top shape. That said, he may need some time to sharpen up.
7 WORTH THE MONEY AS Just prevailed off cover at this level two back, but was a bit flat in his mild gain last time. Steps back down; needs a clear cover trip for best.
8 DANISH DURANGO Prior to his break last week, he hit the exacta in four straight tries. Versatile trotter is well proven at this level. Trainer: Had a good week. Trained well.
9 XTATIC HANOVER Drew off at will three back to beat similar. Excuse his line two back on account of his being parked throughout. Trainer: Shoeing and vet work since last. Trying to smooth out gait.
10 FLYHAWK EL DURADO Extreme class relief can help this 2014 NY Sire Stakes standout immensely. Drops below a winning level, but has to overcome post 10. Expect better coming right back off a week.
10 Tenth Race Entries
Picks: 8-2-6-1
H Horse Comment
1 THE SUMMER WIND She impressed among similar on debut, surging down the grandstand side. Second start back; draws inside.
2 MONTENEGRO A Dover winner four back, this mare was mired in traffic among tougher last out. Class and trip relief help; Brett's choice. Trainer: Sick last week. Treated her up well; looking for a bounce back.
3 DOBRE POVEDANE Finds relief after three futile efforts against much tougher. Sub-:28 last quarters in January prove potential.
4 KEYSTONE WANDA Proved no factor from post 8 in two Yonkers tries. Steps down, draws better, but still needs to prove herself.
5 MARTY PARTY Comes back off a two-month layoff, but faces tougher than fall efforts. May need a week to regain fitness.
6 CAMPANILE Her first-over push against tougher last week is worthy of respect. Class relief paired with a kinder trip can yield value.
7 BETTOR CHILL OUT Twice a winner in her last three, she was even amid traffic at this level last out. Picks up Campbell; can stay on.
8 BODACIOUS Sharp closing splits in qualifiers indicate fitness off a 4-month layoff. Class edge, 9-for-14 ITM record both plusses. Trainer: So far she seems to have matured. Tetrick was able to sit in and use her late in her last qualifier; very happy about that.
9 LOONEY DUNE Rallied well up the pegs against tougher in her first start back. While she steps down, this outside draw interferes.
10 HAPPILY EVER AFTER Capable among second-level foes, but outside draws did her no favors at this level two and four back.
11 Eleventh Race Entries
Picks: 9-2-5-6
H Horse Comment
1 ULSTER He won easily on the drop-and-pop on 1/29, but returns to a spot where he'd been outmatched prior. Minor consideration.
2 FOREVER AS Held sway from Its Huw You Know three back, charging up the pegs to just miss two back. More than capable here. Trainer: Gave her a week off from racing. Trained well this week; hoping for good effort.
3 HOT SUMMER KNIGHT Good gains off cover two back impress, but his last involved a fair bit of racing luck. Judge value in exotics.
4 SOBORO HANOVER In two efforts at this level, he's proven no menace. Wait for improvement; he showed better in the fall.
5 PARIS PRINCESS N While a winner at this level three back, she had the aid of a pocket trip. Late gains off cover last time indicate authentic ability.
6 CELEBRITY PEGASUS He's won two of his last three at this class, but he faded off a massive first-over push from post 10 in his last. Time off usually concerns, but it could be enough to freshen this one up. Trainer: Trained well. First time Lasix may help.
7 NEVER EVER CLEVER Steps up off a 42-1 upset win, powerful as it was. A cozy cover trip can tow her in for a small share at best.
8 CHARLES VII Won three back at 1m2f, kicking cover in a similar caliber event. Ships in; seems to be best if availed live cover.
9 ITS HUW YOU KNOW Prior to an uncharacteristic break last week, he wired like foes in hand out of post 9. Clear and proven contender. Trainer: Got wound up in parade last time; will try and relax.
10 MASSIVE LIGHTNING While shuffled on debut last time, he was no menace though in touch. Post 10 hurts; Callahan opts off.
12 Twelfth Race Entries
Picks: 1-5-9-7
H Horse Comment
1 BULLVILLE MAGGIE Drops back to a winning level after serious traffic issues last time. Not lacking for pace at all last time.
2 VILLAGE JESSICA A vanquished pacesetter in her last three gave way in upper stretch last time. Others invade while much sharper.
3 RIGHTLY SAID She's been hit or miss of late, weakening last week but fighting gamely from first-over two back. Campbell opts off.
4 MAJOR DANCER Further class relief is bound to help this 10-time winner who made mild gains last week. Minor consideration.
5 THAT WOMAN HANOVER Comes back off a short layoff and one sharp qualifier. Held her own with similar at Rosecroft; Campbell's choice of three. Trainer: Tied up last time she was supposed to race. Qualified great last week; normally hard to beat in N5k class.
6 LET HER ROCK A first-over winner against tougher five back, she steps down after traffic issues. Midpack draw suits; minor option.
7 ALWAYS ABOUT KATEY Improved staying power in her last can only be helped by the step down. Can help value in exotics.
8 SENORITA SANTANNA Her first-over push last week ended in mid-stretch as stalkers and closers swarmed in. Post challenges.
9 SWEET TIME In two local tries, she's shown good progress late, kicking stalled cover to chase last time. Post little issue if she can secure live cover again. Trainer: Racing OK despite drawing poorly recently. Can reach with live cover.
10 JUANITA L Twice a winner at Miami Valley, she debuts for Eddie Sager here. Lacks the staying power of others, and post 10 looms.
13 Thirteenth Race Entries
Picks: 8-4-3-5
H Horse Comment
1 MARCH AWARENESS Forgive his break last time, and give a little less attention to his win four back noting the pocket trip.
2 CASH POOR He earned his Open 2 win in December, holding pressure the length of the stretch. May need this one off the layoff.
3 B YOYO Strong pressing power in his last two earns respect, especially among tougher two back. Comes right back; should be sharper. Trainer: Draws well off solid effort.
4 HOMINY HILL He was second in the Indiana Super Final last fall, pursuing from first-over. Debuts for Buter of a pair of good qualifiers. Trainer: Qualifier was good; had a good week.
5 BORN TO FIGHT He's no doubt fit, hitting the board in five straight and staying on at this level last week. Raced into form; minor option if he can secure an ideal trip.
6 OPENING NIGHT He makes his second start off a layoff after lacking kick on debut. He's got potential well beyond that line; fitness remains a variable.
7 LAUDERDALE Lacked after a sustained push to the fore last week. Added pace pressure hurts some, given preference to lead.
8 CROSBYS CLAM BAKE He kicked clear at this level last week after upsetting in the Open in the fall. Assigned the outside; as sharp as any. Trainer: Been a wonderful horse; came back to win impressively in his last. Had a great week; came out of the race super.
14 Fourteenth Race Entries
Picks: 8-6-5-9
H Horse Comment
1 MATT TIN ROOF Forgive her last on account of the sustained first-over battle. Inside post should yield a kinder trip; minor choice.
2 ANTY ENTITY She won at this level three back, but showed little since. Returns; draws inside. Others show better staying power.
3 APPLEFLEXY HANOVER Debuts for Jean Drolet off a single Yonkers qualifier. Showed little at the Spa; Campbell opts off.
4 MS BETTYS HOPE In her Freehold win 3 back, she just struck late from the pocket. Lacked in two local tries since; wait for better.
5 LIZZIE'S DREAM She's earned minor checks at this level with great consistency. Good staying power off stalking, closing trips a plus. Trainer: In great health and fitness. Hope she gets a good trip with a little racing luck.
6 EXOTIC BEACH She's closed with the greatest strength and consistency of any in this bunch. A closer stalking trip helps all the more.
7 PRIVATE PERFORMANC Her last two tries at this level disappointed. Seems to be on the downswing; wait for her to improve again.
8 VALENTINA DE VIE Ships in off an even effort at Yonkers last week. Late kick off cover against tougher is promising. Tim's choice.
9 DELTA DAWN HANOVER Her last three tries against similar showed good staying power. A clearer trip helps; post 9 hinders.
10 BRING THEM HOME She's held up well on the front in her last two, but this outside draw proves awfully daunting. Minor option.