Alan Katz was hesitant to go to Ontario for the North America Cup last month, but he is glad he made the trip. It is unlikely he will have any similar reservations about crossing the Hudson River from New York and heading to Saturday's Meadowlands Pace.
Katz and his brothers, Ron and Steve, bred and own JK Endofanera, who is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers at Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey. The colt won his Pace elimination by a neck over Always B Miki in 1:48.2 last weekend and will start the final from post two with driving for trainer .
In his previous start, June 14, JK Endofanera won the $920,000 North America Cup at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He will try to become the 10th horse in harness racing history to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace.
The Meadowlands Pace and $463,300 William R. Haughton Memorial for older pacers will be shown live on CBS Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m. Saturday. The card also includes the $317,000 Memorial, $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial, $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee, $178,450 Golden Girls, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility Series.
JK Endofanera's win in the North America Cup came from post nine at odds of 12-1 and followed a third-place finish in his Cup elimination. Katz drove eight hours from New York City to Mohawk, staying on the ground because other family members do not care to fly.
"I asked Ron if the horse was going to be OK and told him I would be thrilled just to get a check," Katz said. "He said, 'I'm not.' Once I heard that, I figured I had to drive up there because I'd promised my brother. I thought it might be a long weekend, but everything worked out really good. Brian drove him super.
"Once in a while, you get lucky. I was thrilled. The trip home seemed a lot shorter."
JK Endofanera is a son of stallion out of the 3 Brothers Stables' mare Presidential Lady, who was a homebred multiple stakes winner. The 3 Brothers Stables' horses are named with the initials JK in memory of late family patriarch Jack Katz. JK Endofanera was named to honor Jack Katz as well as veterinarian Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, who passed away the day the horse was foaled at the Dey family's Heritage Hill Farm.
Last year, JK Endofanera won four of seven races and finished second three times. He finished the campaign by winning the Governor's Cup at the Meadowlands. This season, he has posted wins in the Simpson Memorial Stakes and divisions of the Historic-Pocono Cup and in addition to his North America Cup triumph.
In his Meadowlands Pace elimination, Sears and JK Endofanera sat in fourth place for the opening quarter-mile before bursting up the backstretch to take the lead at the halfway point. They then held off challenges from Always B Miki on the outside and Lyonssomewhere on the inside to win in a career-best 1:48.2.
"I thought he was going to get beat, but he showed a lot of class and held them all off," Katz said. "He's probably better following horses than he is cutting the mile, but when you're the favorite every week you've got to be on the front.
"We're tickled pink about him. I wish we had more like him. In this business, you never take anything for granted; they have to get a lot of good things to happen. It's a race. Anything can happen. But he's been giving us a thrill."
Here is the field in post order for the Meadowlands Pace, with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. National Debt, , Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1; 2. JK Endofanera, , , 2-1; 3. He's Watching, , Dave Menary, 5-2; 4. Tellitlikeitis, , , 12-1; 5. Luck Be Withyou, , , 6-1; 6. Lyonssomewhere, , , 8-1; 7. Jet Airway, , , 15-1; 8. Sometimes Said, , , 15-1; 9. Always B Miki, , , 4-1; 10. Doo Wop Hanover, , , 30-1.
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications