By John Cirillo
There is only one original, unequivocal “Air Jordan.” And that would be, of course, Michael Jordan, he of the 6x world champion Chicago Bulls, 5x MVP, and 14x NBA All-Star.
But Yonkers Raceway‘s “Air Jordan II,” that would be driver Jordan Stratton, is carving a Jordan-esque niche for himself in 2016, thank you very much.
The 29-year-old sulky star is enjoying what can only be categorized at a breakthrough season at Empire City Casino‘s historic half-mile harness oval. He’s reached another “Stratton-sphere,” if you will.
While Jason Bartlett is high atop the drivers’ standings in dash wins, Stratton has certainly stolen a piece of the spotlight in the big moments, a la Michael. The most recent case was Saturday’s $609,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Final, when Jordan was flying down the lane to steer Bit of a Legend N. to a one-length victory clocked in 1:51.
It was the sixth win in a row for the tandem, as he swept all preliminary legs of the series with the seven-year-old Down Under Wonder, a horse Stratton calls “the best I’ve ever driven.”
On April 1, Stratton was hardly a fool, sweeping all three third round legs of the Blue Chip Matchmaker series, steering Sell a Bit N., Al Raza N., and For the Ladies N., a trio of New Zealand-bred ladies.
Stratton was groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon (March 20), showing no diplomacy whatsoever toward his French counterparts in winning both legs of the Yonkers vs. France Drivers Cup challenge behind Lily’s Swan Pond (dead heat with Hasty Profitt/Bartlett) in the first contest, and Cousin Eddie, another meal ticket, in the second heat. Talk about flying, Cousin Eddie won the 8 lengths!
The poised and level-headed driver doesn’t take his success for granted nor gloat about the high-flying act. “I’ve learned in this business, it’s possible to go from the top to the bottom very fast,” says Stratton. “I just try to do the best job I can.”
What’s next? An underwear ad like his basketball namesake? Hey, don’t rule it out, right now Stratton is swingin’ as king of this jungle.