Eight top three-year-old pacers will contest the first jewel of pacing's Triple Crown, the 60th Cane Pace, and nine top drivers will contest the second half of the Vernon/Tioga Drivers' Championship on a blockbuster Labor Day (Monday, September 1) card at Tioga Downs.
He's Watching brings a four-race win streak into the $437,325 Cane Pace, carded as Monday's ninth race. Since fading to third in the North America Cup, the son ofproved a powerful 1:46.4 winner in the Meadowlands Pace and an equally dominant 1:49.1 winner in the Empire Breeders Classic, taking the eliminations for each respective event as well. Usual driver has once again been listed by trainer . He's Watching is one of three $35,000 supplemental entries, along with Luck Be Withyou and Lyons Somewhere.
Among those looking to deny He's Watching the first jewel of pacing's Triple Crown are Milstein runner-up Luck Be Withyou and North America Cup winner JK Endofanera.
Luck Be Withyou, the-trained son of , chased McWicked in the $400,000 Milstein at Northfield two weeks ago, finishing in a dead heat for second with McWicked, just three-quarters of a length behind eventual winner All Bets Off, who pounced up the open stretch. is listed to drive the nine-time winner.
JK Endofanera, the lone millionaire in the field, rebounded well from a sixth-place finish in the Meadowlnads, taking second in the Empire Breeders Classic before scoring a 1:50.1 Geers Stake win locally.has listed to handle the driving duties.
Ten three-year-old pacing fillies entered the Shady Daisy, which will be raced as a single $124,325 dash in the afternoon's seventh race. Fancy Desire, a $7,500 supplemental entry, leads the full field, having won the $300,000 James Lynch at Pocono in 1:49.3 among seven other career wins.has been nominated by trainer to drive the filly. Geers winner Katie Said ( ), Pennsylvania standout Tyra ( nominated), and stakes-placed Gallie Bythe Beach ( nominated) are also among the Shady Daisy entrants.
Eight distaff trotters will vie for their share of $40,000 in a Miss Versatility preliminary event, carded as the third race. Divisional standout Maven returned to her winning ways in a Preferred event at Pocono last week, struggling in prior events since returning to the States after a sixth-place finish in the Elitloppet. Thetrainee will be reunited with regular driver , and will race as part of a three-mare entry with stablemates D'Orsay ( ) and Ma Chere Hall ( ). Classic Martine, who has found her way into the spotlight as of late with wins in the Armbro Flight and Ima Lula events, also draws into the star-studded event, with listed to drive the -trained daughter of .
In addition to the high-profile stakes action, nine of the premier drivers in the sport complete the Vernon/Tioga Drivers' Championship, with the first round taking place on Friday (August 29) at Vernon Downs. As in years past, the overall winner of the nine-race tournament takes home a $25,000 first prize--the equivalent of the commission for winning a $1,000,000 race. All nine drivers additionally will donate their commissions to charity.
Tioga Downs honors last year's Driver's Championship winner Jim Marohn, Jr. with a bobblehead giveaway. Fans can receive their bobblehead, as well as a Drivers' Championship t-shirt (while supplies last) at the promotions table on the tarmac prior to and during the races. Post time for the 11-race card is 1:30 p.m. EDT.
by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs