Bettor Sweet finishes bittersweet racing year

Horse trained by U.F. man takes sixth at Breeders Crown


Trainer Joe Poliseno, of Upper Freehold, works with Bettor Sweet, a 3-year-old Breeders Crown pacing contender and winner of the Progress Pace on Nov. 9. Trainer Joe Poliseno, of Upper Freehold, works with Bettor Sweet, a 3-year-old Breeders Crown pacing contender and winner of the Progress Pace on Nov. 9. When trainer Joe Poliseno goes out for a walk each morning he does so toting 1,000 pounds on the end of a rope.

Breeders Crown 3-year-old pacing contender Bettor Sweet, the slightly temperamental winner of the Progress Pace Nov. 9 at Dover Downs in Delaware, can’t quite be trusted with the freedom of a paddock, according to Poliseno, who lives near Cox’s Corner in Upper Freehold.

“I haven’t put him a field because I don’t want him to get hurt, but I’m out walking him right now,” Poliseno said. “It took me a while to get him out to walk because he was crazy when I first got him in September of this year.”

Poliseno now has Bettor Sweet trained to the point where he can take the equine out for a 30-45-minute walk every day.

“I turn all my horses out, but he’s such a spunky horse that I know he’s going to go crazy and I didn’t want him to hurt himself,” Poliseno said.

Bettor Sweet finished sixth in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old pace Nov. 29, which colt Somebeachsomewhere won. This was the first horse Poliseno had in the Breeders Crown. He said he knew Bettor Sweet was running for third place at best.

“Somebeachsomewhere and Shadow Play are the best in the country,” he said.

Shadow Play finished second and both horses are Canadian owned.

Poliseno bought Bettor Sweet for owner Joe Cancelliere, of Clark, in the middle of September. He paid $175,000 for the horse.

“He was a very fast horse, but making breaks at the time [the horse made breaks in two qualifiers and one stakes race this year],” Poliseno said. “I actually had been looking at the horse for probably a month or two months prior. I was going to buy him when he raced at Tioga but he made a break [in a New York-sired race on Aug. 16] that night. Then he raced him a couple more times and I bought him. I wasn’t sure what [the breaks were] from. Greenness? I’m still not sure.”

Poliseno, who works with his wife Ellie Sarama, a trainer who has also served as commentator on dozens of Breeders Crown telecasts, embarked on some trial balloons with the horse’s equipment.

“He was sound enough, it was just a matter of him making breaks,” Poliseno said. “I trained him the first time and he was cross firing, striking his front foot with his back foot, so I changed his shoes. I actually took his hopples in a little bit the first time and then changed his shoes and then his bridle to a screen.”

Poliseno said Bettor Sweet exhibited an unusual skill when he got unsteady in a race.

“He was jumping things with his back feet. He’s pretty handy,” Poliseno said. “Eric Goodell drove him and he won that day [his first start for Poliseno on September 25] at Chester, but he said, ‘Joe. He’s jumping things with his back feet.’”

With a win on Saturday in the first division of the Oil Burner for 3-year-old colts and geldings at the Meadowlands, Bettor Sweet broke the $260,000 mark in career earnings against the $175,000 the owner paid for him.

Poliseno said that the horse has a sweet treat ahead, getting some paddock time for the first time in months,

“Probably right after the Matron [Dec. 8], I’ll get him home and get him out in a field,” Poliseno said.

Ellen Harvey, of Harness Racing Communications, contributed to this story.