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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Sunday, July 06, 2014

Lots of Schnittker Fireworks at Historic Goshen

By Ken Weingartner

Goshen, NY --- It was a nearly perfect day for Ray Schnittker.

Schnittker drove in seven Landmark Stakes events at Historic Track on Friday afternoon and came away with six victories. Among the winners was 3-year-old male pacer Stevensville, who could be heading to the $450,000 Delvin Miller Adios at the end of the month.

Other winners for Schnittker, who is based at Historic Track, were 2-year-old male trotter Gabe The Bear Dean, 2-year-old female pacer Shes Ready To Rock, 3-year-old female trotter Suegrabbitnrun, 3-year-old male trotter Derby, and 2-year-old female trotter Kaliska.

Gary Messenger trained two Landmark winners, 2-year-old male pacer K J Ben and 2-year-old female trotter She’s So Into Me, and Angus MacDonald sent out a winner in 3-year-old female pacer Misty Major.

Stevensville, who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Max C. Hempt Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, won the $19,340 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old pacers in 1:58.1 over a sloppy track. Rain fell throughout the afternoon on an unseasonably cool 66-degree Fourth of July.

Owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna, and Ryan Miller, Stevensville has won seven of 21 career races and $185,079. He finished second in last year’s Matron Stakes.

“He’s been real good,” Schnittker said. “He raced real good last week and I think if he’d gotten through a little sooner he would have been maybe third.

“We’re going to go to the Adios, I think. I skipped the Meadowlands Pace. I think he’s fifth to 10th best [horse in the division] and there’s so much money later in the year, hopefully I can grab some.”

Derby, who finished second in the Dexter Cup in May, won the $20,640 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old trotters in 2:03.3. The gelding is owned by Schnittker, Jeff Gural’s Little E LLC, and Ted Gewertz. He has won three consecutive starts after starting the season with six setback.

He’s come around a little bit,” Schnittker said. “He actually raced pretty good for Danny Cappello at Saratoga the last two starts. He had sort of an attitude problem, but it looks like he’s starting to get it figured out now. Hopefully he’ll end up having a good year.”

Schnittker also was pleased with Kaliska, who won in 2:05.2, and Gabe The Bear Dean, who won in 2:03.

Kaliska (Credit Winner-Armbro Vivian) is owned by Schnittker, Thomas Spatorico, Pepin Stable, and Fam Alber Horse Racing. She is a full sister to stakes-winner Frank The Hands. Gabe The Bear Dean (Lucky Chucky-Madam Hooch) is owned by Schnittker and Minix Stable.

“[Kaliska] kind of doesn’t know what she’s doing,” Schittker said. “She figured out to go by [other horses] finally; usually she’s a little bit late that way.

“Gabe The Bear Dean, I think he could be a real nice New York Sire [Stakes horse]. He’s going next Wednesday at Buffalo. I think he’s one of the better Lucky Chucky colts, so hopefully he’ll be alright.”

Suegrabbitnrun won in 2:01.4 for Schnittker and Charlie Iannazzo, who also bred the filly, and Shes Ready To Rock (Rocknroll Hanover-She’s My Belle) won in 2:04.1 for owners Schnittker, Frank Baldassare, and Mary Kinsey.

K J Ben (Riggins-Winsmith Karen), driven by Jason Bartlett, won in 2:04 for breeder/owner Scott Woogen. In the next race, She’s So Into Me (Conway Hall-In To Me) and driver Jim Taggart Jr. won in 2:07 for owners Woogen and Brenda Messenger.

Misty Major, also driven by Taggart, won in 2:03.3 for owner E.J. Treadway.

Friday’s nine-race Landmark Stakes card was part of the Grand Circuit visit to Historic Track. Saturday features the New York Sire Stakes Excelsior Series and Billings Amateur Drivers Series. Sunday is Hall of Fame Day, which includes a race featuring drivers in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame along with 2014 inductee David Miller.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Sebastian K. Sets World Record Mile for Trotters

By Ellen Harvey

Wilkes-Barre, PA ---- All age, all gender, all size track -- it was an “all everything” 1:49 world record for Sebastian K in the $100,000 Sun Invitational for open class trotters on Saturday night (June 28) at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.

The prior all age, all everything record was 1:49.3 by Enough Talk in 2008 and the five-eighths-mile record was 1:50.2 by Market Share at Harrah’s Philadelphia in May of this year.

In the waning moments of daylight, trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt hustled the 8-year-old stallion off the starting gate and to an unchallenged lead, clearing to the rail at the eighth, well before the :26.2 first quarter.

Archangel (Yannick Gingras) and Modern Family (Dave Palone) tucked in behind those two, following the leader to the :55.3 half. Market Share and Tim Tetrick tipped out from sixth just past the half and made a beeline for the top of the field, but could get only to fourth when the field hit the 1:21.4 three-quarters.

Archangel had enough at the head of the stretch and made a break, leaving open lengths between Sebastian K and the rest of the field. In deep stretch, Svanstedt pulled the ear plugs, tapped his horse five times and shook the lines and Sebastian K was all alone at the wire and now all alone in ownership of the world record. The margin of victory was seven lengths. Modern Family was second and Arch Madness was third.

“It’s an amazing mile for a horse,” said assistant trainer Bernie Noren, whose winner's circle interview English is better than Svanstedt’s. “To have a horse like this, come here and do the world record with Ake as trainer and the driver, he’s such a phenomenal animal.

“He really pushed him today to go for it and showcase harness racing. Next is the Maple Leaf in two weeks, hopefully, no need for an elimination and we can go right to the final.

“He raced very handily last time, he usually waits, but last time he didn’t, he just took off. He trained a mile Wednesday and he’s been in the paddock all week, just enjoying life. That’s what we do with all our horses, make sure they enjoy life.”

Dancin Yankee wins $100,000 Invitational Pace

In the $100,000 USTA Invitational for older pacers, Dancin Yankee and driver Tyler Buter made a three-wide move on the final turn on their way to a 1:47.3 win over Thinking Out Loud and Clear Vision.

The time was one-fifth of a second off Dancin Yankee’s world record for an older pacer on a five-eighths-mile track. The 6-year-old horse is trained by Amber Buter for owners Baron Racing Stable and Richard Lombardo. He has won 35 of 99 career races and $863,462.

Harness Racing Communications/USTA

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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