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Blackler off to solid start in 2010 with Winbak Fox

Tuesday, March 02, 2010  By: Ken Weingartner

Freehold, NJ --- Several years ago, trainer Scott Blackler followed his good friend Jason Bartlett from Maine to New York. Bartlett burst onto the scene by winning 1,376 races and back-to-back driving titles at Yonkers Raceway the past two seasons. Now it may be Blackler’s turn; he could make 2010 his best-ever campaign so far.

A 25-year-old from Waldoboro, Blackler has won 12 races and $165,862 in purses this year. His best season was in 2008, when he teamed with Bartlett to win 41 races and $332,175.

“He helped me get going,” Blackler said about Bartlett. “We’re like family, almost like brothers in a way. He drove for my grandfather when he first started driving. We just became good friends.”

Blackler’s grandfather, the late Nick DePatsy Jr., trained horses as a hobby. Blackler worked with his grandfather and also worked for a few years with Bartlett and his grandfather, Dick Bartlett.

“I fell in love with the horses,” Blackler said. “Out of 12 grandchildren, I was the only one that got into the horses with my grandfather.”

Blackler, who is stabled at Mark Ford’s training center in Middletown, New York, has enjoyed notable success this year with Winbak Fox. The 5-year-old pacer has won six of eight races this season and earned $73,340. Blackler, who owns the horse, has seen him progress from the $15,000 claiming ranks to the open handicap at Yonkers. Most recently, he raced and won in a non-winners condition at the Meadowlands.

On Monday, Blackler said he intended to nominate the horse to the upcoming George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series at Yonkers.

“He’s been very good to me,” Blackler said. “It’s been a blessing to have him, but to be total honest, I hated this horse when I first got him. I couldn’t get him to go. I knew he was fast, but I couldn’t get him to function right. I tinkered with him, tried a couple different things, and one day everything clicked. He just needed a little TLC.”

Blackler, who has a stable of 12 horses, believes Winbak Fox can compete in the Levy.

“He’s sharp right now, so I want to give him a shot,” Blackler said. “It’s hard to find good horses and I want to have some fun with him. I’ll pick my spots and I think he’ll be real good. Hopefully he just keeps going strong. On a half, I think he can go (1):52 with the right trip. He’s very versatile. He can go on the front end, he can go off the pace, he can go first over or second over.”

Blackler would like to have a stable of up to 20 horses in the future.

“I’ve got some good horses and good owners that have given me the opportunity,” he said. “Things are paying off. I just want to have a successful stable. I like doing the work myself. I like being in the barn. I have a hard time leaving. I just want to have good horses. Hopefully good things will happen.”

Bartlett, who still owns a horse in Blackler’s stable, thinks good things will happen.

“He’s a very hard worker and takes A-1 care of his horses,” Bartlett said. “You’re not going to find too many people going to work harder than him. His dream was to have his own stable. I told him to go and chase his dream. That’s what I did and it worked for me. That’s what he did and so far it’s worked out for him, too.”

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