YONKERS, NY. – Tight Lines returns to Yonkers Raceway in the $44,000 Open Handicap Trot, carded as race 8 Saturday night (June 9).
Booted by his sweep of the Yonkers Raceway/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series and a win in a Yonkers Open Handicap last fall, Tight Lines won 10 of 25 starts last year and banked $223,270. The gelding has earned $337,226 in his career for owners Jeff Gregory, Jesmeral Stable, and William Richardson. Gregory credits Tight Lines’ attitude and desire to work for his success.
“He’s an overachiever. He likes what he’s doing, and we had a little luck last year placing him in spots where he fit well, so it maximized his earning potential. He had a big year,” Gregory said. “He likes what he’s doing, he tries his hardest all the time. A lot of horses don’t do that for you. He enjoys his job. You’re not forcing him to do anything, he’s enjoying what he’s doing.”
Although Gregory initially intended to race Tight Lines into the winter, hoping to take advantage of softer company in the off season, an onslaught of winter weather and the toils of a long 2017 campaign took their toll. Gregory decided to give the trotter a break rather than struggle through a winter campaign. Tight Lines went to the sidelines after finishing sixth in a local Open January 21.
“We just ran into such a bad winter. It was a nightmare trying to keep him going, keep him sharp, and keep him sound during the winter,” Gregory said. “The conditions just didn’t feel like it was worth it for all the work we had put into him.”
Tight Lines spent two months in the field and another two months training back. Now 5 years old, the gelded son of Yankee Glide matured physically and came back fresh.
“It seems like every year he’s gotten a little bigger and filled out a little more. He’s more of a man now than a boy,” Gregory said. “He continues to get bigger and bigger every year. He’s an athletic horse and he’s a really kind horse. He’s really nice to be around, he loves people, he loves the other horses. He’s really very easy to get along with.”
After Tight Lines won a May 22 qualifier at Harrah’s Philadelphia by 12 ¾ lengths in 1:55.2, Gregory looked for a suitable starting point for the trotter’s summer campaign. With earnings from a win in the $40,000 Open Trot at Yonkers December 3 still on his card, Tight Lines only fit the open class and Gregory opted to race in the $30,000 Open Series at Pocono Downs June 3.
In addition to the deep field assembled, including 2017 Yonkers International Trot participant In Secret, Tight Lines faced testing conditions in his return as evening rains left the track sloppy. Still, Tight Lines tracked cover second-over and closed with a :28.4 final quarter to finish fourth beaten 1 ½ lengths.
“It rained really hard up there and the track was real muddy, it was quite a heavy track,” said Gregory, who also drives Tight Lines in all his races. “He held his own and I think if he’d have had one start under his belt, he would have finished second. He just got nipped for second, but he probably just needed another tightener.”
Although Tight Lines led at every call of the three preliminary legs and the final of the Bonus Trotting Series last year, Gregory has since found the trotter prefers to race off cover, just as he did in his return. Tight Lines won three straight races from off the pace at Harrah’s Philadelphia last fall and Gregory hasn’t sent him to the lead off the gate since.
“He actually does like to follow horses. Last year, I raced him at Chester and he got on a roll there, he was coming from behind every week and really loved passing horses,” Gregory said. “When he was in the series, he was the chalk every week and he didn’t really have to be on the front, it just seemed like I could avoid a lot of trouble if I was up there. Now that he’s in with some better horses, they can leave just as good as he can, if not better. The option of just sending him to the front every week is out the door.”
With a race under his belt, Tight Lines returns to the Yonkers trotting feature as a 3-1 morning line second choice from post four Saturday night. Seasoned Saint is the race’s 5-2 favorite from post six off a runner-up finish to DW’s NY Yank last out May 26. Bluebird Jesse, winner of the 2018 renewal of the Bonus Trotting Series is 7-1 from post five while DW’s NY Yank is a 6-1 shot from the assigned post eight. Deweycolorintheline, Andy Ray, Uva Hanover, and Fearless Man complete the field of eight.
“I expect him to race ok. He likes Yonkers, he really likes it everywhere. The track doesn’t matter. He usually does what he can no matter what,” Gregory said.
Saturday night’s 10-race program also features a $44,000 Open Handicap Pace in race six. First post time Saturday night at Yonkers is 6:50 p.m. View entries for the card by clicking here.
by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY