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Yonkers 2009 Recap

Published: December 22, 2009 3:02 pm ET

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What have we learned after what is soon to be 241 racing programs? Well, the first thing we always learn is that it's not nice to fool Mother Nature. She took three other scheduled cards -- including this past Saturday night -- and cancelled them all by her lonesome.

The second thing we learned -- for the second season in a row -- is that the big man on campus was/is Jason Bartlett.

Bartlett, proving his 2008 driving title was no fluke, ran away and hid with the '09 honours. The 28-year-old native of Augusta, Maine entered Yonkers' final program of the season with 578 Westchester wins and more than $9.1 million in local purses.

According to the United States Trotting Association's David Carr, Bartlett's win total is the fourth highest in a year at Yonkers dating back to 1992 (Walter Case, Jr. [978 in 1998], Case [800 in 1992], Luc Ouellette [644 in 1995]). His overall totals of 720 wins and more than $10.8 million in purses ranks second (to Jody Jamieson) and fourth (to Tim Tetrick, Ron Pierce and Brian Sears), respectively, in North America.

Along the way, Bartlett traveled to Norway to represent the U.S. in May's World Driving Championship and won his 3,000th career race with the trotter Light Headed (August 28).

"I never really think about the numbers, to be honest with you," Bartlett said. "I'm just very content driving here, night in and night out.

"I don't see myself going anywhere else. I've been fortunate to drive for very good owners and trainers, and I appreciate that. I really just want to stay healthy and win one of Yonkers' classic races. I want to be in the winner's circle for a Yonkers Trot or big pacing race. That would be sweet."

Jordan Stratton, also concluding the best season of his young career, had 270 local wins, with Cat Manzi (217), Jeff Gregory (211) and Stephane Bouchard (196) rounding out the top five going into the final program.

Josh Green, with a big asset from Bartlett. is poised to win his first training title (125 wins and $2.1 million in purses entering Tuesday night). The 35-year-old, Delaware-based Green was leading Joe Anderson (104 wins), Mark Ford (100), Paul Blumenfeld and Matt Medeiros (80 each).

Yonkers' season also featured its share of big stars in big races.

The 'older crowd' was up first, with five-year-old gelding Foiled Again (driven by Yannick Gingras) handily winning the $370,000 final of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (1:52.3). Ron Burke trained Foiled Again

That same evening (May 2), five-year-old mare Pancleefandarpels (Stratton) won the inaugural Blue Chip Matchmaker, taking the $229,000 finale in 1:54.4. Erv Miller trained 'Pancleef.'

Judge Joe, the pride of the Empire State, went the distance in the 55th Yonkers Trot (August 29). Pierce drove the son of Credit Winner to a decisive victory in 1:56.1. The colt, sold after his elim win by 'Team Ackerman,' gave trainer Jimmy Takter his first Yonkers Trot victory. For Pierce, it was win No. 2, sixteen seasons after the great American Winner.

Yonkers Trot night also saw Windsong Soprano (Pat Berry) roll by four lengths in the $327,985 final of the Hudson Filly Trot. The lass was trained by Bob McIntosh.

If I Can Dream swept both of Yonkers' premier events for three-year-old pacing colts.

The homebred son of Western Hanover won the $421,850 Art Rooney Pace (June 13) by three lengths in 1:52.1.

George Brennan drove that night, but it was Tetrick taking a seat in the $542,060 Messenger Stakes (November 7). That evening resulted in another three-length victory, just a tick slower (1:52.2). The pair of Yonkers stakes win contributed to a $1.7 million, If I Can Dream season for Bulletproof Enterprises and trainer Tracy Brainard.

Owner and trainer doubled their Rooney Night pleasure, winning the $293,970 Lismore Pace with Not Enough (Jim Morrill, Jr.) in 1:53.4.

However, their quest for a four-race stakes sweep was derailed when Shanghai Lil snapped Yellow Diamond on the money in the $364,430 Lady Maud Pace (1:53.3). The early November winner was trained by Peter Foley and driven by Mike Lachance.

Other seasonal highlights included, but were not limited to:

March 12 and 13 -- Greg Grismore and Bartlett rolled a pair of sevens, each winning that number of races on successive Thursday and Friday programs. For Bartlett, it was one of four, seven-win nights at Yonkers in 2009.

September 18 -- Standout New York-bred Hes Gorgeous (Bartlett) sets a track record for two-year-old pacing colts, winning a New York Sire Stakes event in 1:53.2.

October 2 -- Bouchard, Yonkers' driving champ in five successive seasons (2003-07), won his 7,000th career race with the trotter Winnie the Who. Shortly thereafter, another pair of Yonkers' regulars, Gregory and Jim Pantaleano, reached Nos. 6,000 and 5,000, respectively, at Freehold Raceway.

October 17 -- The first Fall Harvest Festival, showcasing the close relationship between horse racing and agriculture in New York State, proved a big success. The evening featured eight, $50,000 events for New York-breds, along with a host of free, family-friendly activities and demonstrations, as well as visits from leading New York apple farms, wineries and cheese manufacturers

October 30 -- Shutter Boy (Gingras) set a new all-age trot track record, 1:54.3, barely a month after Baby Boy Grin (Larry Stalbaum) claimed the record with a 1:54.4 effort. Ironically, both are four-year-old geldings.

November 30 -- I'm All Country (Billy Dobson) was the biggest board-buster of the season, winning at an even 90-1.

Yonkers Raceway's first 2010 program scheduled for Friday, January 8, with the regular five-night-per-week schedule (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday Friday and Saturday) resumes the week of Monday, January 11. First post for all racing programs is 7:10 p.m. Evening simulcasting accompanies all live programs, with afternoon simulcasting available around the NYRA schedule.

Please note the NYRA Christmas break runs through Christmas Day.

As always, we appreciate the continued of support of our horsemen and fans, and wish everyone all the best through the remainder of 2009 and throughout 2010.


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