Freehold, NJ --- The Pacing Triple Crown begins Monday (Sept. 1) at Tioga Downs in upstate New York, where eight 3-year-old pacers meet in the $437,325 Cane Pace.
He’s Watching brings a four-race win streak into the Cane Pace and is undefeated in three lifetime starts at Tioga Downs. Last season, he won a division of the New York Sire Stakes in 1:50, which established the track record for a 2-year-old. And in his most recent race, a 1:49.1 triumph in the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs on Aug. 10, he missed the track standard for 3-year-olds by two-fifths of a second.
or the year, He’s Watching has won five of eight races, including the Meadowlands Pace in a world-record-equaling 1:46.4, and earned $692,247. He’s Watching was not eligible to the Cane Pace, but his connections paid $35,000 to supplement to the race.
“He likes Tioga,” said Ontario-based trainer Dave Menary, who owns He’s Watching with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. “Hopefully we’ll keep our Tioga streak alive.
“I’m really happy with him. This is the third time he’s had three weeks off between starts and he’s liked it so far. He raced well last time and seems to be in top shape right now. I had him to Mohawk (Racetrack) on Monday and went a good mile with him.
“We’ve just kind of followed the same routine every time he’s had three weeks off and it’s working so far. I think we’re ready for Monday.”
First race post time is 1:30 p.m. Monday, with the Cane Pace slated for approximately 3:46 p.m. The card also includes the fourth leg of the Miss Versatility Series for older female trotters, featuring world champions Classic Martine, Maven, and Frau Blucher.
No horse has won the Pacing Triple Crown since No Pan Intended in 2003. The second jewel in the Triple Crown is the Little Brown Jug, to be held Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, and the third is the Messenger Stakes, slated for Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway.
He’s Watching, who will be driven by two-time Cane Pace winner Tim Tetrick, will start from post six.
“At Tioga, the six hole is fine,” Menary said. “I was hoping not to get the very inside or the very outside. I think from the six hole, it gives Tim a lot of options. I leave (what to do) up to him.”
JK Endofanera, who in June won the North America Cup, enters the Cane Pace off a win in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes on Aug. 17 at Tioga Downs. In his previous two starts -- his elimination for the Empire Breeders Classic and the EBC final -- he finished second to He’s Watching.
For the year, JK Endofanera has won six of 10 races and earned $660,709 for trainer Ron Burke and owner 3 Brothers Stables. He starts the Cane Pace from post five with driver Brian Sears.
He’s Watching is one of three $35,000 supplemental entries to the Cane Pace, along with Luck Be Withyou and Lyonssomewhere.
Luck Be Withyou, who won last season’s Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers, saw a three-race win streak snapped when he finished in a dead-heat second to All Bets Off in the Carl Milstein Memorial on Aug. 15 at Northfield Park.
“There are a lot of horses in there, not just JK,” Menary said. “Hopefully we can get off to a good start (in the Triple Crown). I’ve been able to keep him really fresh and he’s been sharp. Hopefully I can keep him sharp.
“I’m trying to take it week by week, but he’s still got a lot left on his plate. I think he’s in good form right now and hopefully he can stay that way until the end of the year.”
Following is the Cane Pace field with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes; 2. Bushwacker, David Miller, Chris Ryder; 3. Doo Wop Hanover, Corey Callahan, Steve Elliott; 4. Stevensville, Mark MacDonald, Ray Schnittker; 5. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke; 6. He’s Watching, Tim Tetrick, Dave Menary; 7. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter; 8. Beat The Drum, Brett Miller, Staffan Lind.
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications