Bill Finley

Bill Finley has been covering both thoroughbred and standardbred racing for more than 25 years. He is a racing columnist for ESPN.com and can also be heard on the Down the Stretch show on Saturdays on Sirius XM radio.

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Friday, July 11, 2014


Through the Meadowlands Pace Notebook


By Ken Weingartner

1. National Debt, Scott Zeron, Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1

Last year, National Debt won all four of his starts while competing in Alberta for trainer/co-owner Kelly Hoerdt, who received Canada’s 2013 O’Brien Award for Horsemanship. He was sent to New Jersey-based trainer Ron Coyne Jr. for the start of this season and captured the Gilmour Memorial Series during the winter.

National Debt, who finished fifth in his Pace elimination, won by JK Endofanera, has won seven of 10 lifetime races and earned $76,073. Owned by Hoerdt, Blair and Erna Corbeil, and the J&T Silva Stables, National Debt had issues with allergies earlier this season while racing in Canada and missed nearly two months prior to his Pace elim.

“He had a couple good tighteners in qualifiers, and this was his first test for speed against these colts, but all in all it went well,” Coyne said. “He showed a good burst of speed at the end, he came home :26.2 and he finished up really nice, so I was really happy about that. It’s all a matter of the post and the trip and we’ll see if we get lucky.

“We missed a few of the big dances, but we’re ready to go again,” Coyne said.

2. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 2-1


JK Endofanera (Art Major-Presidential Lady) won his elimination in 1:48.2 and is the 2-1 morning line favorite. He is trying to become the 10th horse to win both the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace. For more, read here.

3. He’s Watching, Tim Tetrick, David Menary, 5-2

He’s Watching (American Ideal-Baberhood) won his elimination in 1:48.1 and is 5-2 on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. For more, read here.

4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 12-1

One of two horses in the race from the Takter Stable, Tellitlikeitis (Well Said-Kikikatie) is a son of 2009 Meadowlands Pace winner Well Said out of the million-dollar-earning mare Kikikatie. He led early in his Pace elimination, which was won by He’s Watching, but finished fifth.

Tellitlikeitis, owned by Lothlorien stable, has won four of 12 career races and $389,022. He finished second to JK Endofanera in the North America Cup.

“I expect him to be better,” Takter said. “He had three weeks off [prior to his Pace elim] and that’s a long time in this group. I had to play it like that with him, unfortunately. I cannot race him every dance because he has issues. But he’s got a perfect seat, the four post. If the pace is right, we know he can pace :25 the last quarter. If I get him a little bit better, he’s quick enough that he can give you something.”

5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 6-1

The 2013 Breeders Crown champion finished third in his Pace elim, won by He’s Watching. Luck Be Withyou has won once in five starts this season and captured six of 16 career races, good for $404,827. He is owned by John Craig and trained by Bill Cass in Canada, with Oakes taking over in the U.S.

Luck Be Withyou is a son of Western Ideal out of the mare Trim Hanover. He is a three-quarter brother to millionaire female pacer American Jewel.

6. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-1

The colt tried to find room inside of JK Endofanera in the stretch, but was unable to get past the leader and finished third in his Pace elimination. Just three-quarters of a length separated JK Endofanera, runner-up Always B Miki, and Lyonssomewhere.

Geoffrey Lyons Mound owns Lyonssomewhere, who is a son of 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere out of the mare Miss Kitty Hanover. He has won five of seven career races and $98,570.

“He didn’t have enough room, but I thought he raced really, really good,” Takter said. “He can step out of the gate extremely well. It’s hard not to take advantage of that, but by the same token, you pay a little bit for that.

“At the Meadowlands, it’s not necessarily the best spot to sit behind the leader unless he’s a very good leader. If you don’t get racing room, you’re playing with luck. With luck, yes he can win, without a doubt, and we need to be lucky in this race. It will be an interesting race.”

7. Jet Airway, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 15-1

Erv Miller is hoping for big things from the big horse as the year goes on. Jet Airway opened 2014 with a second-place finish to JK Endofanera in the Simpson Memorial at the Meadowlands.

Owned by Miller, Tangie Massey, Paul Sunderhaus, and Larry Agle, Jet Airway has won six of 18 career races and $130,834. He is a son of Jereme’s Jet out of the mare Aromatic. He raced 10 times as a 2-year-old, winning three races, but was shut down in early October.

Marcus Miller, who recently got career win No. 2,000, is Erv’s 25-year-old son.

“He’s a really fast horse, a big horse,” Miller said about Jet Airway. “I think, hopefully, from midseason on he’ll just keep getting better. It just seems he needed the racing to get going. He went a big mile [in his elim]. Marcus did a good job and he had a lot of pace finishing.

“I could tell last year he was a pretty nice horse. I wanted to shut him down because he was real immature. I think as time goes, he’ll just keep getting better.”

8. Sometimes Said, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell, 15-1

Always in the hunt, Sometimes Said has won only twice but hit the board in 14 of 18 career races. He finished second by a neck from post nine in last year’s Breeders Crown, which was won by Luck Be Withyou, and was second in the 2013 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

Owned by Fashion Farms, Sometimes Said is a son of Well Said out of the mare Lady Sometimes. He has earned $341,254 lifetime.

Sometimes Said finished second in his Pace elim, beaten 2-3/4 lengths by He’s Watching.

“He’s had a good week,” Campbell said. “It’s hard to say whether post eight will help him or hurt him, it depends how the race unfolds. It would probably be in his best interest if they’re rolling along up front and he can get cover in the outer tier.

“It’s a tough group of horses. He went a big trip last week and he’ll have to come back and be better than that this week.”

9. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1

Came home the fastest of all Meadowlands Pace finalists with a :26.1 final quarter-mile to miss by a neck to JK Endofanera in his Pace elim. Always B Miki has won five of 20 career races and earned $219,916. He is owned by Bluewood Stable, Val D’Or Farms, and Roll The Dice Stable.

Always B Miki was disqualified from third to fifth for interference in his Hempt Memorial elimination and went off stride in his North America Cup elim. He has three wins, including a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes, and two second-place finishes (by a neck and a nose) in the five starts this year in which he’s minded his manners.

“I was apprehensive coming into [the Pace elimination] because he’s just been a problem horse that way,” Holloway said. “He’s got a lot of speed, but he’s not the easiest horse to deal with. He steered fairly well [in his elim] and raced well. He can go a tough trip, he’s probably one of the tougher ones that way, but he is tough to deal with.

“He’s got the speed to go wherever they want to go. As long as he gets a decent trip he’ll work it out from there.”

Always B Miki is a son of Always A Virgin, who was trained by Holloway and won two legs of the Pacing Triple Crown (Cane Pace and Messenger) in 2007, out of the mare Artstopper. He is a half-brother to Yagonnakissmeornot, who finished second in this year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker Series final.

10. Doo Wop Hanover, John Campbell, Steve Elliott, 30-1

Elliott is the only trainer in the race to have won the Meadowlands Pace previously, having captured the trophy in 2006 with Artistic Fella and 2009 with Well Said. Only two trainers, Brett Pelling and Bill Robinson, have more Pace victories.

Doo Wop Hanover finished fourth in his Pace elim, which was won by JK Endofanera. He is a son of 2005 Meadowlands Pace winner Rocknroll Hanover out of the mare Deer Valley Miss and is a three-quarter brother to stakes winner Knock Three Times.

For his career, Doo Wop Hanover has won five of 19 races and $180,788. He won the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship in May and the Hempt Memorial Consolation in a career-best 1:49 on June 28. He is owned by Peter Blood, Rick Berks and Gary Piontkowski.

Post 10 has produced four Meadowlands Pace winners, tied for the third most of any starting spot, but none since The Panderosa in 1999.

“I’ve had better draws,” Elliott said with a laugh. “But when [Doo Wop Hanover] gets on the lead or first over, he wants to rock and roll, and he’s better with a trip. We should be able to get a trip from there, we’ll just hope it’s not a bad one.

“He’s been good all year. He’s a nice colt. He might be a notch below the best ones, but there’s so many times now when the trip dictates the outcome. We just want to be somewhere in the live flow. You’ve got to be in it. If you’re not in it, you can’t win it.”

* * *

Tim Tetrick and Ron Pierce have enjoyed multiple successes in the Meadowlands Pace in recent years, combining to win six of the last seven editions of the race.

Pierce has won the Meadowlands Pace a total of four times, second to only John Campbell’s seven Pace victories for the most among all drivers in history. Pierce’s victories were with Dream Away (1997), Art Official (2008), Well Said (2009) and Roll With Joe (2011).

He drives Luck Be Withyou in Saturday’s race. Luck Be Withyou, who starts from post five and is 6-1 on the morning line, finished third in his Pace elimination, which was won by He’s Watching.

Pierce won last season’s Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers with Luck Be Withyou.

Tetrick has won the Meadowlands Pace with Southwind Lynx (2007), One More Laugh (2010) and Captaintreacherous (2013). He drives He’s Watching in Saturday’s race, starting from post three.

He’s Watching, who won his Pace elimination in 1:48.1, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. He was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer.

“I sure would love to [win again],” Tetrick said. “I have a great horse to do it with. I like my chances.

“There are some really nice colts in here and it’s a tough group.”

Campbell will go for Meadowlands Pace win No. 8 with Doo Wop Hanover from post 10. Brian Sears, driving 2-1 morning line favorite JK Endofanera, tries for his second Pace triumph while Yannick Gingras, with Lyonssomewhere, also will be going for his second win.

Scott Zeron (driving National Debt), Brett Miller (Tellitlikeitis), Marcus Miller (Jet Airway), Corey Callahan (Sometimes Said) and David Miller (Always B Miki) all are seeking their first Meadowlands Pace win.

Harness Racing Communications/US Trotting Assn.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014


For JK the Beginningofanera


By Ken Weingartner

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 Brian Sears driving for trainer Ron Burke.

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 Stanley Dancer 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 Art Major 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 Somebeachsomewhere 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. javascript:nullo()

“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.”

Harness Racing Communications US Trotting Assn.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Monday, July 07, 2014


Meadowlands Pace: Game On


By Ken Weingartner

Dave Menary might have been concerned when He’s Watching lost for the first time in his career earlier this season, but the setback was something of a blessing for the 35-year-old trainer.

“When you’re undefeated and you’re trying to stay undefeated, it’s a lot of pressure,” Menary said. “Since he got beat I’ve had a lot more fun.”

Of course, winning again factors into that fun, and Menary hopes it continues in Saturday’s $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-old pacers at the Meadowlands Racetrack. He’s Watching won his Pace elim by 2-3/4 lengths over Sometimes Said in 1:48.1 last weekend.

He’s Watching, who will start the Pace final from post three with driver Tim Tetrick, is the 5-2 second choice on the morning line. North America Cup winner JK Endofanera, who captured his Pace elim in 1:48.2, is the 2-1 favorite. He will start from post two with driver Brian Sears at the lines for trainer Ron Burke.

“Everything he’s gotten, he’s earned,” Menary said about He’s Watching, who has won 10 of 13 career races and earned $461,957. “There are so many good horses out there, and they go such big speeds, you need the speed but you need the luck too.

“You’re not going to dominate these horses. There are multiple horses that can go in (1):48 and change, and every horse in every race can go in (1):49. You need to have the speed, you need to race hard and have guts, and maybe have a little bit of luck.”

He’s Watching raced solely on the New York Sire Stakes circuit last year, but dominated on his way to the championship for 2-year-old male pacers. He set or equaled two world records as well as track records at five different racetracks and was named the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer in the U.S.

In four of his wins, He’s Watching was in front from gate to wire. In three other victories, he had the lead by the halfway point. The only time he failed to have the early lead came in his career debut, when he went off stride at the start and spotted the field more than 14 lengths, but still came back to win by three-quarters of a length.

“He’s just a good horse,” Menary said. “He’s a good horse no matter what track he races at, or what horses he races against. But now he’s racing a lot more good horses. Last year in New York, it was pretty much him against the clock. We had to over-race him a little bit to keep him out of trouble and get the job done.”

This year, He’s Watching lost his first race of the year, finishing sixth in his elimination for the Art Rooney Pace at Yonkers Raceway. He bounced back to win a division of the Somebeachsomewhere Stakes at Mohawk before finishing second in his elim for the North America Cup and third in the final.

He won his Meadowlands Pace elim from post nine, sitting fifth through the halfway point before getting to follow Sometimes Said around the final turn and kicking home in :26.4 over the final quarter-mile.

“It’s the first time he ever got a trip in his whole life,” Menary said. “He’s always been doing all the work or he’s been racing against the clock. [In the elimination] Tim did a great job. It’s almost like he learned to race a little bit and he got a trip and it worked out the way we wanted it to.”

Menary owns He’s Watching with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero, and the Muscara Racing Trust. The colt, a son of stallion American Ideal out of the mare Baberhood, was purchased for a mere $3,000 at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale. His family includes millionaires Western Ideal, Leah Almahurst, and Naughty But Nice.

“He’s just a versatile horse with an unbelievable motor, so we have a lot of tools that we can work with,” said Menary, an Ontario resident whose recent successes include Battle of Waterloo winners Tarpon Hanover and Prodigal Son, as well as stakes-winners Tea Party Princess and Haul Away.

“The first start of the year, it was just a series of bad events and you turn the page. Things haven’t fallen in line exactly the way they should have, but I’m not disappointed with the colt or the start of the year. I think this is a step in the right direction. I think we’re going to hear a lot of good from him this year.”

Here is the field in post order for the Meadowlands Pace: with drivers from the eliminations, trainers, and morning line odds: 1. National Debt, Ron Pierce, Ron Coyne Jr., 50-1; 2. JK Endofanera, Brian Sears, Ron Burke, 2-1; 3. He’s Watching, Tim Tetrick, Dave Menary, 5-2; 4. Tellitlikeitis, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 12-1; 5. Luck Be Withyou, Ron Pierce, Chris Oakes, 6-1; 6. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 8-1; 7. Jet Airway, Marcus Miller, Erv Miller, 15-1; 8. Sometimes Said, Corey Callahan, Jim Campbell, 15-1; 9. Always B Miki, David Miller, Joe Holloway, 4-1; 10. Doo Wop Hanover, Corey Callahan, Steve Elliott, 30-1.


Ken Weingartner is a member of the Harness Racing Communications Department of the U.S. Trotting Assn.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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