Mother Nature snowed on his parade when racing was cancelled on Tuesday, but Jason Bartlett completed his appointed rounds Thursday night at Yonkers Raceway, snaring his 5,000th career victory.
The historic half-mile oval which is home of Empire City Casino has had many big harness racing milestones, and now Bartlett becomes a significant part of that history.
Bartlett, a Yonkers mainstay since migrating from Maine five years ago, seasons ago, hit the big milestone behind Box Car Johnnie ($8) in the $12,000, sixth-race pace. The 32-year-old Bartlett, a native of Augusta, ME, entered the evening needing one scant victory to round up the odometer. Johnnie, an 8-year-old, defeated odds-on favorite Pembroke Alec Bush (George Brennan) by a length-and-a-half in 1:53.
Bartlett has three consecutive (2008-10) local driving titles on his resume, which also includes a pair of Yonkers’ stakes wins: the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (Foiled Again, 2010) and Messenger Stakes (2013, Ronny Bugatti). He also represented the U. S. twice in the World Driving Championship.
Bartlett, who drove his first winner for his grandfather, Richard, at the Windsor (ME.) Fair in 1998, is closing on $54 million in career purses. The Bartletts–Jason, wife Kristen, and sons Kobe and Karter—were presented with a congratulatory sign after his latest accomplishment.
“I’ve never been much of a numbers guy, but 5,000 is a lot,” Bartlett said. “I always appreciate the owners and trainers giving me the opportunities, and really, you just go out and do your best every night.
“It was special doing it for (trainer) Alicia Gray, since she and her husband, Shawn, are also from Maine and I’ve had a lot of success driving for them.”