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The Untouchable

Posted by Brian Mulligan on 2/21/2011 11:56:29 AM

For those that bet Tampa Bay, there is death, taxes and Jamie Ness, who is well on his way to winning his fifth straight training title there.

Another Ness, Eliot, headed a group of law enforcers nicknamed the Untouchables in their fight to enforce prohibition in the Roaring Twenties but he was no more powerful than Jamie at this quaint little Florida track.

In the 2008-09 meet he was 37 winners better than next trainer at the meet hitting at 28% and last season he won with 51 of 143 starters and over 70% were in the money.

This season after 89 starters, Ness greeted 31 in the winner’s circle and another 28 were in the money.

As an omen toward his meteoric rise, Ness saddled his first winner in 2000 at Canterbury and that runners name was Blue Rocket.

Like so many racing fans and bettors, he was shown the game by his grandfather, who took Jamie to the track when he was 4 and the rest, as they say, is history.

He broke his teeth learning from his training Dad.

Ness has some traits that must be followed. He is awesome right off the claim to the tune of 34% the last 5 years and almost as good 2nd off the claim at 29%.

He can also get horses to win after they have been given a prep and in second off the layoff situations to the tune of 25% the last 5 years.

Ness wins races when he is supposed too as he is 30% the last 5 years with top last-race Beyer perfomers.

He doesn’t really concentrate on young horses, so beware when thinking about betting his juveniles but is equally successful on the cut back in distance and on the stretch out.

In those time frames already mentioned, he is 24% with stretch out runners and 27% on the cut back.

If Ness brings a horse in to the Tampa area, know that he is 30% with shippers the last 5 years and he can keep horses going good once they get good to the tune of the same 30%.

Up until now he has done it with numbers and with cheaper stock, but according to a piece written by Doug McCoy, the barn has attempted to change direction.

Ness: “We had a fantastic year last season, there’s no question about it, but as proud as we are of having won as many races as we won, the economics of the business dictate that we’ve got to point toward more quality stock. And when you’ve got a higher level of quality, you’re not going to be racing them as often as your cheaper stock, so people shouldn’t be surprised to see us make fewer starts and possibly win fewer races.”

In theory, that is all fine and good but if one could interview the recently deceased Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel, he’ll be the first one to tell you that it takes time to make a transition like that and it can’t be done just out of will, but has to be done with quality, highly-backed owners, and there lies the rub.

It’s not easy to make a living from the claiming box, then all of a sudden become the next Todd Pletcher or Steve Asmussen.

The educated guess from this end is that Ness will strive to improve his stock and point toward more and more stakes but when push comes to shove, you have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and tell the truth.

The truth will likely be another year when the rest of the conditioners at Tampa will be chasing Ness all the way to the wire.

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