He's Watching beats JK Endofanera at Tioga

12:13 PM 04 Aug 2014 NZST
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He's Watching, harness racing Precocious Beauty, harness racing
He's Watching beats JK Endofanera to the wire
Photo by Fred Brown
Precocious Beauty and driver Brian Sears
Photo by Fred Brown

Classic winners He's Watching and JK Endofanera gave a thrilling battle through a :54.3 last half-mile in their $12,500 Empire Breeders Classic elimination on Sunday (August 3) afternoon at Tioga Downs, and while He's Watching eked out a half-length win, the rivalry will continue in next week's $255,525 final.

With a mid-card rain squall downgrading the track to sloppy, He's Watching ($2.90) made a first-over push against pacesetting JK Endofanera (Brian Sears) after a :56.3 half mile.

The two champions were locked in battle for the final three-eighths of the mile, tracked intently by Capital Account (Yannick Gingras) through three-quarters in 1:24.0. In the final hundred yards, He's Watching pushed his head just past, prevailing in 1:51.1 in rein to Tim Tetrick. JK Endofanera proved valiant in defeat, while Capital Account kept pace well enough to hold third. Western Conquest (Marcus Miller) stayed on for fourth from a midpack stalking trip, guaranteeing a berth in the final.

He's Watching, trained by David Menary for Menary Racing, Inc., Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero, and the Muscara Racing Trust, will start from post 3 in next week's final, as selected by his connections.

Earlier on the card, Tetrick took the other Empire Breeders Classic elimination for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings, sustaining a first-over bid with Winds of Change ($18.00) en route to a three-quarter length win over a late-charging Neat (Marcus Miller) in 1:50.2. Twin B Speedo (Mark MacDonald) and Forty Five Red (Yannick Gingras) completed the first four finishers of the earlier elimination.

Linda Toscano trainee Winds of Change will start from post 1 in the final for owners Brittany Farms and Val D'Or Farms.

Of the fifth-place colts and geldings, Ideal Magic was drawn by lot into the final, while Archetto Hanover will be the also-eligible.

While "The Intimidator" swept the colt eliminations, the two eliminations for three-year-old pacing fillies both went to Brian Sears.

Sears's first-over drive aboard Precocious Beauty ($5.40) was enough to wear down pacesetter It Was Fascination (Scott Zeron) and subsequently stave off a stalking charge from Delightful Dragon (David Miller) in the 1:51.4 second elimination, while It Was Fascination and the ground-saving Just Fine (Jimmy Whittemore) rounded out the top four.

Precocious Beauty, trained by Gregg McNair for owner James Avritt, Sr., will start from post 3 in next week's $244,875 distaff final.

Sears teamed up with Major Dancer ($4.40) to win the earlier elimination for fillies, sweeping to the fore in the final yards for a 1:51.4 victory, chased home by Blush Hanover (Jim Morrill, Jr.). Pacesetting longshot Medusa (Tim Tetrick) held third after being gathered in, while A La Notte Hanover (David Miller) mounted a late rally to round out the top four.

The Casie Coleman-trained Major Dancer will start from post 2 in next week's final for Coleman's West Wins Stable, Mac Nichol, and Adriano Sorella.

Of the fifth-place fillies, Suplemental Income was drawn by lot into the final, while Table Talk will be the also-eligible.

Both Empire Breeders Classic finals will be contested next Sunday afternoon, August 10.

In addition to the Empire Breeders Classic eliminations, a pair of Geers Stake events were held for two-year-old pacing colts and fillies, respectively.

Cashaway ($4.60, Tim Tetrick) held sway in 1:53.1 in her $31,607 division, narrowly holding off a late charge from Crescent City (Mark MacDonald), who was blocked from the pocket until all but the final 40 yards. JK She'salady (Yannick Gingras) triumphed in the earlier division, making a bold first-over move to beat Single Me (Tim Tetrick) in 1:54.0.

In a $39,182 division for colts and geldings, Dealt a Winner ($2.50, Brian Sears) pushed clear late off a first-over trip, edging clear from Western Pioneer (David Miller) and keeping a chasing My Hero Ron (Marcus Miller) at bay for a 1:54.2 win, while Rock n' Roll World (David Miller) pounced from the pocket to beat Sonofa Sizzle (Dan Daley) 1:54.2 in a $38,682 split raced as an early non-wagering event.

Live racing returns to Tioga Downs on Saturday (August 9) evening, with first post slated for 6:15 p.m. EDT.

by James Witherite, for Tioga Downs

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