Cotolo’s Harness Review, News And Notes
$12.80, Alotta Crackers, Fraser
$9.00, Liveandinconcert, Northfield
$6.40, Terror Time, Cal Expo
$4.80, Cinderella Story, Northfield
$3.80, Richie The Clown, Northfield
Cinnamon (10-1), Cal Expo; Quite A Lady (2-1), Fraser; Exotic Sparkle (3-5), Fraser; Sweet Reunion (5-1), Fraser; Call Me Madam (15-1), Freehold; Country Fresh (6-5), Freehold; Stormin Rustler (6-5), Freehold
Precious Few (12-1), Cal Expo; Country Hideaway (15-1), Fraser; Princess Darleans (42-1), Fraser
News And Notes
Jim Pantaleano reached the 6,000-win mark with two victories at Freehold Raceway on Dec. 14. His win in the 11th Race with Devine Filly got the 50-year-old Ohio native to the milestone.
Pantaleano drove in his first race when he was 16 at a matinee fair in Ohio and won his first pari-mutuel race at Northfield in 1985. His career best win total of 436 was reached in 2002, 2003 and again in 2010, while his best money won total of $5,659,812 was reached in 2011.
The harness situation is shaky in Ontario, with government actions to dismiss slots-earning shares to horse racing, so a few horsemen are moving their tacks south of the border.
Dan Gassien took a huge plunge, going south and west to now be among the new faces at Cal-Expo. He currently has six horses on the grounds with at least three more set to arrive. The 48-year-old horseman was literally born into the sport, growing up around standardbreds thanks to his father Paul, while his brothers also make their living at the racetrack.
“I always knew this is what I wanted to do and I left school at 15 to start working full time with my dad and my older brother Reg. I drove my first race at Flamboro Downs when I was 18 and got my first winner with my third drive.”
Working at Cal Expo is Gassien’s first time competing on a regular basis over a mile racetrack.
“When it comes to driving,” he said, “there are adjustments I’ve had to make as opposed to driving over half-mile and five-eighths tracks, where you have to be more aggressive.”
Dutchess Seelster, with Wally Hennessey up, scored in 1:54.2 at Pompano Park, tying the track record for mares set by Peace Corps in 1990 and equalled by Three Little Words in 2006. Trainer Don Glowacki handles the lightly raced six-year-old mare that has banked over $215,000 this year.
One Canadian has already been contacted for a role in the upcoming harness racing movie Johnny Longshot. Trot Insider has learned that Meadowlands announcer and TV host Ken Warkentin has been approached by Emilio Estevez to contribute to the feature film set for production and release next year.
Estevez wrote the script and will direct the movie about second acts and taking chances; a story of a retired thoroughbred jockey who begins a career as a harness driver.
Cartoons by Thom Pye