Saturday, January 20, 2024

The feel-like temperature might have been 17 degrees, but that did not prevent driver Jason Bartlett from having hot hands at The Meadowlands Friday night as the 42-year-old pilot guided five winners on the card.

So, you were expecting a big night?

“No,” said Bartlett. “I really had no clue.”

Until the races began, that is.

In addition, Bartlett’s following didn’t have to settle for short prices, as three of the Yonkers Raceway kingpin’s winners went off at odds of 7-1 or more. During 2023, Bartlett won 500 races at the half-mile track in New York’s Westchester County.

The American Eagle (a 5-year-old son of Trixton-D’Orsay) got things started for Bartlett by taking the third race, a low-end conditioned trot, in 1:56.2 for trainer Per Engblom at odds of 7-1 coming from last at three-quarters.

“He’s kind of a weird horse,” said Bartlett. “He’s a little horse but doesn’t get around [the half-mile track] Yonkers too well. But he’s got a lot of speed. I thought I could win from wherever, but getting away ninth wasn’t ideal.”

About 20 minutes later in the fourth dash, Camlachie Chrome (a 5-year-old gelded son of Sunshine Beach-Gotta Love Her) overcame a tough first-over journey to take a TrackMaster 74 pace in 1:55.2 for Cote Keim as the 9-5 favorite.

“I had to be a little bit careful with him,” said Bartlett. “And he just kept on grinding.”

Win No. 3 came in the sixth race with 11-1 chance Got Sexy Scars (a 5-year-old by Sportswriter-Jordan’s Jewell) in a mid-range conditioned pace for mares in 1:52.2 for Jared Cooper before Bartlett clicked again in the ninth with another Engblom student, Phenom Seelster (a 5-year-old by Sunshine Beach-Platinum Seelster), who scored at 8-1 in a low-end conditioned pace for mares in 1:53.1.

Race 11 saw Bartlett fans cash once more, as the pilot who finished 11th in The Big M standings a year ago with 30 victories, scored with 3-1 shot Midnight Lightning (a 12-year-old gelded son of Camluck-Twin B Intimate) in 1:54.1 in a low-end conditioned pace for Shaun Vallee.

“I’ve driven him and against him a million times,” said Bartlett. “The race set up well for him coming from off the pace.”

Bartlett came close to rolling a lucky seven, missing a neck with Top Me Off in the eighth race and a head with Toccoa Falls in the 10th.

CARRY ON: There will be a pair of carryovers for punters to shoot for on Saturday, as both the 20-cent Pick-8 and 20-cent Pick-6 failed to yield winning tickets.

The Pick-8 will begin with $2,723 in the pool after those with five winners cashed in for $55.40 while the Pick-6 carryover is at $4,532 after tickets with five out of six returned $377.76.

A LITTLE MORE: After winning four races last Friday, Dave Miller won three more on the card. The Hall of Fame pilot now has eight victories over the last three programs. … Engblom’s two winners led the trainers. … All-source handle totaled $3,076,582 on the 14-race program, making it three $3-million Fridays at The Big M in as many 2024 tries. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.PHOTO: The American Eagle takes the third race at The Meadowlands Friday night, the first of five winners on the program for driver Jason Bartlett. (Credit: Lisa Photo)