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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

JORDANS RULE AT YONKERS

By Ken Weingartner, for US Trotting — With just more than two weeks remaining in the year, Jordan Stratton and Cory Stratton are putting the finishing touches on their individual achievements this season. The brothers, though, have enjoyed portions of their successes together, particularly at Yonkers Raceway.

Jordan, who is 34, is on the way to his first driving title at Yonkers, where he has won 338 races and $6.37 million in purses. With four race cards remaining at The Hilltop this year, Jordan leads second-place Jason Bartlett by 36 victories and $77,705 in earnings. Bartlett is a 10-time former dash champion at the track.

Cory, who is 29, has posted 47 training wins at Yonkers with a 19.3-percent victory rate in 244 starts. He is tied for 11th in wins among trainers there, but third in win percentage among trainers with at least 200 starts. Jordan has been in the sulky for 40 of his brother’s victories and two-thirds of his starts at The Hilltop.

“It’s really nice,” Jordan said about capturing the dash title at Yonkers after runner-up finishes in 2009, 2017, and 2018. “It’s a testament to the marathon of year-round racing and reflection of your hard work throughout the year. A couple guys traveled, and I stayed primarily at Yonkers, so that made a little of a difference. My brother has a big barn, he’s one of my bigger barns right now, and a couple other trainers I drive for are doing good.

“But it’s still one day at a time. You have to go in the next day and being the leading driver doesn’t really matter for the next race. It’s a bit of a grind, but I’m very fortunate to race for the purses we race for.”

In addition to his success at Yonkers, Cory overall has established career highs as a trainer for starts (278), wins (58), and purses ($781,246).

“It’s been tremendous,” Cory said. “My wife (Vicki) and I have 25 to 30 horses that we train. I got fortunate with some new owners; a couple people took a chance on me. All thanks to my wife and the owners and Jordan for picking my horses most of the time. I have a good team of people working for me and everything just kind of fell together. We’ve been very lucky.”

Prior to this year, Cory had curtailed driving to focusing on building his training stable. This season, he returned more often to the sulky and set career highs for starts (1,200), wins (191), and purses ($900,248) to go with his success as a trainer.

He is fourth in wins as a driver at Monticello Raceway.

“I was missing it a little bit,” Cory said about driving. “I had some luck, so I’m just going with it. I’m still more focused on training, but Monticello is kind of like my therapy. I get (to the track) and it takes my mind off everything.”

Cory hopes to maintain the size of his training stable next year, perhaps even grow a little, and is looking forward to a Grand Circuit campaign with soon-to-be 4-year-old female pacer Easy To Please. In October, she finished second by a neck to Always B Laughin in a track-record-equaling 1:48.4 mile at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The time missed the world record for a 3-year-old pacing filly on a five-eighths-mile oval by a fifth of a second.

“Hopefully, next year, she can continue on and go in the big dances,” Cory said. “It would be nice to win a Grand Circuit race. That would be my goal. Realistically, I’m just looking for the stable to go over a million dollars next year. Hopefully, we can get over the million-dollar mark next year.

“We’ve got a slew of good owners and we’ve been on a very good roll. Jordan has done very well for us. He’s helped me get going, so I owe a lot of credit to him as well.”

Said Jordan, “I’m happy Cory has established himself. I like to see him do good.”

He then added with a laugh, “As long as I’m driving for him.”

If 2021 is an indication, the brothers will have ample opportunities to make that happen.

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