EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J -- He's Watching rallied to win the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace in record-equaling time on Saturday night at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.
It was the exclamation point in the storybook saga of a $3,000 yearling purchase who scaled the heights of the sport with The Pace victory.
The time was a dazzling 1:46 4/5, tying the fastest clocking in the history of harness racing. He joins Somebeachsomewhere, Holborn Hanover and Warawee Needy in that exclusive speed club.
Tim Tetrick was in the sulky for his fourth Pace victory in only eight drives.
“It’s just an honor to compete in these races,” Tetrick said. “He’s a great horse, and I was lucky to pick up the drive in a big race like this.”
He's Watching beat Always B Miki by 2 1-2 lengths, his 11th victory in 14 starts.
Racing second over while tracking North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, He’s Watching shifted into high gear in the lane, kicking home with a 25 3/5 second final quarter.
“I couldn’t ask for a better trip,” Tetrick said. “My horse really exploded, and he paced all the way to the wire.
He's Watching, trained by David Menary who made his Pace debut, paid $6.20, $3.80 and $3.40.
“I was hoping we’d get a second-over trip behind JK Endofanera,” Menary said. “He’s versatile. He likes it on the front and when horses come at him, he picks up the bit. He can explode off the helmet, too.”
Always B Miki, caught three wide all the way around, dug in gamely to get second, returning $5.80 and $4.60. Tellitlikeitis paid $8.20 to show.
He’s Watching is owned by Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust.
The Pace, contested before 10,786 on a warm night, was main event of a stakes-filled evening.
Stanley Dancer Memorial
Trainer Jimmy Takter holds all the cards heading into the $1.2 million Hambletonian here on Aug. 2, especially after his trio of talented colts swept the first three positions in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old trotters.
Father Patrick was first to the wire, his 16th win in 17 starts for the Father Patrick Stable. He will undoubtedly be the solid favorite in the Hambletonian.
Yannick Gingras was at the lines for the 1:51 3/5 victory. Father Patrick, starting from post 9, took charge down the backstretch and held off Nuncio by three quarters of a length with Trixton third.
“He can race from the back and he’s probably a little bit better following horses,” Gingras said. “With the 9-hole in a 12-horse field, the last thing I wanted to do was get caught behind traffic.”
Given the lead, Father Patrick remained firmly in command.
“There was no excuse for anybody,” Gingras said. “Father Patrick beat them straight up.”
Father Patrick paid $2.80 to win.
The Takter dominance could limit the number of Hambletonian challengers. If there are 13 or fewer entrants, the field will go in one dash without preliminary heats.
“This was basically the Hambletonian,” Takter said. “I mean, who is coming?”
Takter struck again with Shake It Cerry in the $213,500 Del Miller Memorial, the companion event for 3-year-old trotting fillies and the prep for the Hambletonian Oaks.
Shake It Cerry and driver Ron Pierce won by 1-1/4 lengths over Heaven’s Door in 1:53. Designed To Be was third.
Shake It Cerry won for the fifth time in six starts this year and pushed her career earnings to more than $1 million. She has banked $217,338 this season for Solveig’s Racing Partners.
Shake It Cerry led from start to finish, hitting the halfway point in :57.4.
“When I saw we were getting our way going to the half, I figured I better try to get away from Designed To Be so we stepped on the gas the last half,” Pierce said.
“I think she’s coming into the Hambletonian Oaks just perfect. Today she got a good workout, so I would say she’s coming into the Oaks in real good shape.”
Shake It Cerry paid $9.60 to win.
Sweet Lou rocketed home in 1:47 1-5 in the $463,300 William Haughton Memorial, the sixth straight win for 5-year-old.
He had an ideal trip, perched second-over as Captaintreacherous and Thinking Out Loud slugged it out.
Ron Pierce turned Sweet Lou loose in the lane and he roared home to his 28th win in 64 starts, beating Bettor’s Edge by 1 1-4 lengths.
The first two finishers were trained by Ron Burke.
“Ronnie had been using the same move every week where he brushes up the backside and bottoms them out,” Burke said. “I was wondering what would happen if we couldn’t do that. What I liked best was at the wire he was just starting to stretch out. I was very happy with him and Bettor’s Edge.
Sweet Lou, owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura paid $4 to win.
Captaintreacherous, last year’s Meadowlands Pace winner, was third.
Sandbetweenurtoes gutted out a neck victory over Weeper in the $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old pacing fillies to extend her season-long unbeaten streak.
Brett Miller was at the lines for trainer Larry Remmen and owner Bradley Grant as Sandbetweenurtoes improved to 6 for 6 in 2014.
“She’s something else, for a filly who had only one start as a 2-year-old,” Miller said.
The time was 1:49 3/5. Sandbetweenurtoes paid $5.40 to win.
Rocklamation emerged from the pack in deep stretch to take the $183,450 Golden Girls Free-For-All for pacing mares in a career-best and stakes record 1:48 3/5.
The 6-year-old improved to 21 for 89 as she closes in on $2 million in career earnings. Gingras was in the sulky for his third stakes win of the night. Burke trains for the Our Horse Cents Stable, Stable 45 and J & T Silva Stables.
“My mare’s a hard knocker,” Gingras said. “She’s getting up there in age, but she’s such a sweetheart.”
Rocklamation beat Drop The Ball by three quarters of a length with Jerseylicious third. She paid $26.80 for the upset victory.
Bee A Magician, the 2013 Horse of the Year, got her first win of the year by capturing the third leg of the Miss Versatility Series by a neck over Charmed Life in 1:51 1/5. D’Orsay was third.
Bee A Magician and driver Brian Sears found a second-over trip behind D’Orsay, taking the front in mid-stretch and holding off a fast-closing Charmed Life.
Bee A Magician, who was 17-for-17 last season, had three second-place finishes among four starts prior to the Miss Versatility. She has won 28 of 35 career races for owners Mel Hartmann, Herb Liverman, and David McDuffee, and trainer Nifty Norman.
She paid $4 to win.
New Jersey Sires Stakes
Guess Whos Back fired off cover while Mission Brief exploded with a gate-to-wire stakes record performance in the trots.
Mission Brief, who paid $2.60 to win, broke her own stakes record of 1:55.1, with a 1:53.3 mile besting a field of six trotting fillies. The winning margin was an eye-opening 13 1-4 lengths.
The outcome was never in doubt as Gingras guided the Ron Burke trainee to her second win in three starts.
With the daughter of Muscle Hill, out of the Breeders Crown winner Southwind Serena, racing on an uncontested lead, the battle was for second and Dynamite Dame edged out Rules of the Road.
She is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi.
Guess Whos Back tipped five-wide in the stretch and pulled away to a one-length victory in the event for trotting colts and geldings.
Guess Whos Back, driven by Brian Sears paid $6.40 to win. Canepa Hanover was second with 99-1 Mountain Top a length and three-quarters in third/
The 1:56.1 mile was a lifetime best for Guess Whos Back, trained by Nikolas Drennan and racing for Joseph Davino and Brad Shackman.
More Jersey Sires Stakes
A pair of Western Ideal youngsters, Artspeak and Stacia Hanover, scored in the $100,000 finals of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for two-year-old pacers on Saturday, July 12, 2014 at the Meadowlands.
Artspeak [$3.40, $2.80, $2.40], a son of Western Ideal, captured the New Jersey Sire Stakes for pacing colts and geldings in 1:52.3, finishing a length and three-quarters ahead of Hurrikane Ali, by Rocknroll Hanover.
Dealt A Winner by Cam’s Card Shark was an early breaker who reconnected with the field and got up for third by two and a half lengths.
Artspeak, driven by Scott Zeron and trained by Tony Alagna, was sent off as the 3-5 favorite and did not disappoint, picking up his second win in two career starts. A $100,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase, he races for Brittany Farms, Marvin Katz, Joe Sbrocco and the In The Gym Partners.
In the 13th and final race of the night, Stacia Hanover took command early and held the lead at every call, extending her unbeaten streak to three with a career best 1:53.4 mile.
Scott Zeron guided the Western Ideal filly, who is trained by Steve Elliott and races for Ohioans David Van Dusen and Michael Ciamaglio, who purchased her for $35,000 at the Harrisburg Sale.
Stacia Hanover returned $3.40, $2.40, $2.10, finishing a length and a quarter ahead of Cashaway, who was a half length ahead of Ideal Nuggets. All three are by Western Ideal.
Total handle for the 13-race program was $4,288,237, compared to the $4,311,546 wagered on the 14-race card in 2013. By comparison, handle through 13 races last year was $4,096,588.