For all the success Jason Bartlett has enjoyed since making Yonkers Raceway his office nearly a decade—and six driving titles—ago, one of the few holes in the resume is a rather chasmic one. A Yonkers Trot win.
"It's the signature race and my home track and it's eluded me," Bartlett said. "It's an important race for me personally and I want to win it. I've had three good chances to win it, but none worked out."
In 2008 (when "sure winner" Holiday Credit jumped it off with an open-length, late-stretch lead), Velocity Hall "was sitting in the two hole (behind eventual winner Napoleon) and had plenty of trot. I was deciding whether I should get out and go wide, and he broke (going toward the three-quarters).
"That hurt, because his owner, Tom Dillon, is a good friend of mine from Maine."
A year later, Broadway Bistro "was very good winning his elimination (first-up), but drew the eight hole in the final. Even then, I thought he had a chance. Unfortunately, he made a break the second time down the back."
In 2013, Creampuff Macdaddy "couldn't have been any smoother in the elimination, but he hit the bike in the first turn of the final and made a break."
Fast forward to this Saturday night. Bartlett certainly figures to have a legit shot in the $500,000, 63rd edition. The open draw has him taking a seat behind Guardian Angel AS from post position No. 4.
The "Guardian" won the second of two, $40,000 elimination races a last weekend, grinding by Money Macintosh late to win by a half-length in 1:56.
"I like my chances with him," Bartlett said. "I can't complain about the draw. I'm in between Devious Man (post position No. 1) and Yes Mickey (other elim winner, post No. 6)."
The 3-year-old statebred son of 2012 Trot winner Archangel, trained by Anette Lorentzon for co-owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson, has won seven of his dozen seasonal starts ($138,093), including all four starts here.
This season's Trot has a bit of a different feel, with nine in the final (first time since 2000) after last week's dead heat for fourth (Di Oggi and Southwind Hydro) in the race won by Guardian Angel AS.
"I can't speak for anyone else, but the extra horse in the field doesn't bother me," Bartlett said. "I just drive my race and go from there." (Yonkers)