Trainer Jaymes McAssey really started to make an impression at Saratoga Casino Hotel back in 2017 when he went out on his own after years of being an assistant to multiple local trainers. McAssey made an immediate impact in his “rookie” season, ending up with 29 wins in a year in which his trainees finished in the top three in 67 of their 127 starts. His ultra-impressive training percentage of .368 in his debut season led to McAssey earning the honor as the track’s top up-and-coming trainer. In the year that followed McAssey’s Peerless McGrath Award winning one, the young conditioner continued along the path that would end up with him finishing in the top five among local trainers at the Spa.
Jaymes McAssey ended up fourth in the trainer standings in 2022 before a fifth place finish last season. A staple among the top ten conditioners since starting his own stable, McAssey got his ’24 campaign off to a big start on opening weekend. The 2024 season got started on February 3rd and by the time the first race card moved on to its third race, McAssey already owned a pair of wins. His tandem of veteran pacers Matticulous GB and Skyway Victor swept the early double on opening night. Eight-time leading driver Billy Dobson piloted both halves of the McAssey double on opening night.
The 32 year old conditioner had three opportunities to secure a training triple on Saturday and though he never got that third win, he did have a pair of second-place finishes to go with his two victories. Pickup Man Hanover drew post two in the season’s first installment of the $15,000 Open Pace and Shawn Gray got the driving assignment behind the 2023 nominee for Pacer of the Year. The talented five year old wound up as the runner-up to pacing stalwart Rocknroll Runa A who won his fourth consecutive try in the local Open this past Saturday night. McAssey’s Bacononabiscuit, whom he debuted at the Spa late last season, also was a runner-up for his owner/trainer on opening night.
If Saturday was a good start to the McAssey stable’s season, Tuesday was a bonanza for the local conditioner who scored a rare training grand slam. McAssey had five of his trainees in on ladies day on Tuesday and the New England native started off his afternoon right when veteran mare The Charging Moa N prevailed in the matinee’s first race. Shawn Gray sat behind The Charging Moa N as the thirteen year old distaffer went coast-to-coast in a $9,000 race for claiming pacing mares. A pair of youngsters Lookoveryour and Miss Countour, who each joined the McAssey stable late last season, came into Tuesday with impressive statistics. Between them, the two four year olds had finished first or second in ten of their last eleven combined starts.
Because of their strong resumes, both mares were overwhelming betting favorites in their respective tries on Tuesday and both lived up to the hype, giving McAssey his second and third winners of the day. Surging to the top of the way-too-early trainer standings, McAssey completed a Tuesday grand slam when his Woodmere Heather M pulled off a mild upset in what was her local debut. When the mare Got Beach Body came up second best in the afternoon’s finale, McAssey’s chance at an extremely rare five-for-five day went by the wayside but what a day it was for the former Peerless McGrath Award winner.
After dominating the opening week action at the Spa, McAssey was back at in on Saturday night (Feb 10) when he started six members of his stable. Ronaldo N was making his local debut for McAssey when he came from off the pace to finish second. Pickup Man Hanover dropped in company off of a second-place finish in the opening night feature and wound up as the runner-up again in his second seasonal try when he got tracked down late in the mile. McAssey wouldn’t go winless on Saturday night as his Bacononabiscuit followed up his opening week second-place try with a gutsy victory with Dobson in the sulky.
Bacononabiscuit, who is owned by McAssey, moved to claimers for the first time and came from off the pace to record yet another early season victory for the his stable. By the time Saturday evening had ended, McAssey wound up atop the very early season trainer standings after a night that saw him add a win, a pair of seconds and a third to his strong opening month tally. With more favorites in store for him in the upcoming week, the February surge could well continue for Jaymes McAssey who is looking to finish in the top three for the first time and who knows, with some healthy horses, racing luck and continued good work could well be in the battle to try and subplant defending leading trainer Brett Derue in pursuit of what would be his first ever training title.
Live racing takes place every Saturday beginning at 5pm and continues with matinees each Sunday, Monday and Tuesday afternoon with action starting at noon. Until next week, I’m Mike Sardella wishing you the best of luck and we’ll see YOU at the finish line!