Two of Yonkers Raceway’s leading drivers, Jason Bartlett and George Brennan, discussed their drives in the Friday night (Jan. 12) Pick 5 sequence and their approach to racing without a passing lane on the half-mile oval.
The Friday Pick 5 features a $15,113.25 carryover and $40,000 guaranteed pool. The bet, which offers no consolation payout, covers races seven through 11 and offers a 50-cent base wager.
Bartlett – #4 American Island (5-2): Ended the 2017 season at Yonkers winning or placing in six of his last seven races. In his last three starts, the Rich Banca trainee scored a victory from post seven for a $15,000 tag and posted two seconds, each by a nose, at this level December 8 and 15. “He’s been racing good and he’s had some tough post positions. He’s drawing inside, he’s got gate speed if need be. He’s not in a bad spot.”
Brennan – #3 Blade Seelster (2-1): Class-dropping Robertson pupil won 11 of 35 starts and earned $183,535 last year, but faded on the lead in his last two outings to close 2017. Brennan takes the lines for the first time since October 27. “He’s OK, he’s alright. Three-hole, he’s got a good spot. He’s got a good record, a lot of wins last year. They used his early speed the last two starts and it didn’t do him anything and now he’s been off for almost a month going in. Is he up to it? You don’t know. It’s difficult, it’s really hard.”
Bartlett – #2 Big City Jewel (8-5): Won six of his last seven to close his 2017 campaign and makes his seven-year-old debut at the level of the claim for Robertson. Shows success on the lead and from off the pace. “I’ve driven this horse twice, I won with him both times. He’s a really nice little horse. He’s been racing really well, draws inside, so he looks pretty good. He’s just a handy little horse. The #1 horse (Bettor Reason N) is probably one of the horses to beat, I would say.”
Brennan – #4 Northern Virgin (12-1): Burke trainee is a consistent check-getter, but hasn’t won since November 5 while down in class at Harrah’s Philadelphia. “Decent spot, OK. He’s a piece-getter. I’m not really sold on him to be a top one-two in there. He’s just kind of a big horse. He’s the kind of horse I’d like to be first-over with and just grind my way into it if I could. We’ll see how that works. (With the passing lane), if you’re sitting fourth, it’s most likely you were going to be first-over. Now that guy in the three-hole, he’s got to come out. Tuesday, a guy pulled out of the two-hole at the half, a couple guys pulled the two-hole down the backside early. A lot of these guys have never driven without a passing lane. I started driving with a hub rail and no passing lane; it doesn’t really matter to me because I’ve figured it out before. It’s interesting; now you get away fourth and there’s a good chance you’re getting a second-over trip. It’s definitely changed it up, shuffled the cards a little bit and I think for the better, for sure.
“There’s definitely a lot more action. I’ve found horses are coming from behind, some of the favourites are getting beat up early and used early where they generally wouldn’t before. They’re getting pressured and there’s more of a live flow because the horses are pulling earlier and they’re trying to get there from behind. There have been quite a few longshots in the first three days.”
Bartlett – #2 War Daddy (3-1): Won out of his last condition here by a nose November 27 before finishing fifth for a $40,000 tag December 16. Five-year-old gelding by Quik Pulse Mindale drops to the $30,000 level tonight and draws inside again. “He’s racing good. Looks like I’ll be following the #1 (Midnight Dylan N). He’ll be up close; with no passing lane, who knows, but he figures in there. It’s hard to say right now because none of the horses have been racing consistently. Everybody’s been coming off a break, so it’s hard to say. I think everybody’s been trying to get the learning curve with it right now. You are seeing people pop the deuce a lot more. I just think it’s going to hinder the horses sitting sixth, seventh, and eighth even more. I think you really have to be sitting up close. I’ve been going with the flow; the horses haven’t been racing, so it’s hard to try different things with them. A couple times I knew I would have gone back to the rail if there was a passing lane and I stayed out. Instead of leaving to get the two-hole, now you’re taking back to be first- or second-over, but you also see horses coming first-over who aren’t making up any ground either.”
Brennan – #3 Go Collect N (9-2): Ended 2017 with an upset two-length win at the non-winners of $10,000 condition with Brennan in the sulky. Races for a tag for the first time since joining the Di Domenico ranks last fall. “He’s OK, he’s moving up a bit, but he comes from a good barn. I’ve raced him from behind before. I’ve raced him on the lead before. He can do either or and he fits in there. He’s OK.”
Bartlett – #1 SOS Justified (3-1): Finished fourth at this level from post seven to close the 2017 season. Returned Opening Day with another fourth-place effort from the six post, beaten 2-1/4 lengths. “Drawn inside and I don’t think that’s a real tough race. He looks pretty good in there. He does well when he draws inside and that’s not a real tough group I don’t think. Most of the horses in there have raced (off the break). He should be better; he should be good in that spot. Raced good last week.”
Brennan – #4 Adonis Bay (10-1): After posting a dozen wins season last year, the six-year-old gelding opened 2017 with a fifth behind SOS Justified January 7. “I raced him last week, he was a little short. Looking to be a little tighter. He’s OK. He’s a piece-getter, but he’s not bad. He did win 12 races last year, so he knows how to win.”
Bartlett – #6 Pembroke Wildcat (5-1): Won an Open in Maine and placed in two local contests at the non-winners of $10,000 level last fall. Closed 2017 with a sixth-place finish for a $30,000 tag. Makes his debut off the claim for Robertson. “Don’t know much about this horse. Hasn’t raced, but the whole field hasn’t raced, so you can’t go by that. Looks like there’s a bit of speed in there; will probably have to take back and be second- or third-over and see what happens.”
Brennan – N/A (no drive)
In addition to the Pick 5 carryover, Friday’s card also features a $40,000 Fillies and Mares Open Pace in race six. First post time is 6:50 p.m.
(SOA of NY)