Saturday, November 5, 2022

For someone who started out working for her trainer dad as a teenager, good things have certainly come fast and furiously ever since for Jessica Otten.

The 25-year-old Otten, who is the national face of harness racing having just completed covering the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Mohawk Park for Fox Sports 2, took on another big gig at The Meadowlands Friday night, sitting alongside Dave Little as one-half of the new TV team on the track’s nightly simulcast presentation.

“I was actually really nervous to sit in this chair,” said Otten. “Nervous for what people would say or think, because I don’t want people to think I am here to replace Dave Brower [who passed away unexpectedly last month]. Because there is no replacing Dave Brower.

“I still have my marketing and social media responsibilities at the track, so sitting on set, looking over the program every night will be more work. I’ll also be handling the scheduling and formats and getting people where they need to be when they need to be there, so it’s going to be a challenge. I put in a lot of hours here, so there will be a lot of adjusting. I’m a perfectionist, and there were things – both big and small – Brower did that we took for granted. We want to continue to do those things well, while I make some subtle changes to the TV show and the way we do things. I am looking forward to the challenges ahead of me.”

Otten got off to a good start in the co-host chair, tabbing Thndrfrmthethron N ($9.00) in the first race and Svengali ($5.00) in the second for the daily double ($28.40). Otten made it three winners from her first four races in the hot seat when she had Whimsical Journey ($10.60) in the fourth and finished off the evening with five winners when Hughie Junior N ($13.20) took the 10th and Romantic Warrior ($3.40) the 13th.

“We are still hurting from Dave Brower’s passing,” said Big M Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Jason Settlemoir. “But all of us here at The Meadowlands are happy moving forward that we will have Jessica down on the set every night. Her expertise as a horseman and handicapper will be a great addition to the team.”

A LITTLE MORE: Todd McCarthy and Corey Callahan led the driver colony with three winners apiece. … Vinny Ginsburg recorded his first-ever Meadowlands win as a trainer when You Beda Rock scored at odds of 38-1 with Ginsburg in the bike in the fifth race to cap a 20-cent Pick-5 that came back $1,730.92 despite none of the other four winners going at off odds of 4-1 or less. … All-source wagering totaled $2,451,530. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m.

PHOTO1: Jessica Otten (Credit: Lisa Photo)