05/29/2014 10:48AM

Harness: Sophomore pacers enter the spotlight

Derick Giwner
Some of the top 3-year-old pacers in the sport will be at Mohawk on Saturday.

In just two weeks a full field of 3-year-old pacers will line up behind the gate at Mohawk Racetrack for the $1 million North America Cup. Whether at Mohawk in the Somebeachsomewhere or at locales across North America this weekend, second-year pacing colts are gearing up for a run at some of the biggest purses in Harness Racing.

Three $75,000 divisions of the Somebeachsomewhere featuring 23 top prospects are on tap this Saturday. While in years past the spotlight would be shining on one Captaintreacherous-type superstar, 2014 presents a wide-open divisional battle that is up for grabs.

The role of “featured colt” in the first division (race 3) is more of a shared position. JK Endofanera and Luck Be Withyou both earned north of $350k as rookies. The former has already won a pair of minor stakes with identical 1:49 4/5 miles. The latter is the returning Breeders Crown winner making his first start back from winter vacation.

[DRF HARNESS: LIKE us on Facebook and get timely updates on the latest harness news]

Ron Burke not only trains JK Endofanera, the likely favorite, but also the possible choice in the second split (race 8), Somestarsomewhere. A son of Somebeachsomewhere, one of five signed on to the series named for their sire, he won a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at Pocono Downs in 1:50 3/5 to start his year. While he only earned $137,137, he did post the fastest freshman pacing mile at 1:49 2/5.

“[JK Endofanera and Somestarsomewhere] give me the best shot I’ve had in years,” said Burke on his chances to win a major 3-year-old pacing event in 2014. “The competition is not as tough this year as when I had (Sweet) Lou.”

Especially when referring to Somestarsomewhere, Burke sees his duo is the perfect type to have success on the bigger tracks, where the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace are contested.

“They are kind of big track specialists,” said Burke. “They are both 1,300-plus pounds and are the type that can lumber in the middle of the track and wear horses down.”

Somestarsomewhere’s main competition on Saturday could come in the form of Always B Miki. The Indiana-sired colt has flashed high speed in many of his miles and just missed by a nose against older foes in 1:48 4/5 at the Meadowlands.

Race 10, the final division of the Somebeachsomewhere, could be packed with the most talent of the trio. Boomboom Ballykeel won the prestigious Metro Pace at Mohawk last year and returned with an easy victory at Western Fair in Sire Stakes competition. That’s My Opinion has reeled off two consecutive victories at the Meadowlands to begin his sophomore season. He’s Watching was the clear winter-book leader after a perfect 8-for-8 year as a freshman, but threw in a clunker in the Art Rooney eliminations at Yonkers Raceway last week. Lets Drink On It is another with an unblemished 2014 record, winning his most recent race at Pocono in a swift 1:49. The race also includes Jet Airway, a winner in 1:50 3/5 this year, and Bugger Bruiser, who earned in excess of $200k as a 2-year-old.

While the action kicks off at Mohawk at 7:25 PM, 3-year-old pacers can also be found in the $300,000 Art Rooney pace on Saturday night at Yonkers. All Bets Off and Stevensville lead the field in the richest race of the weekend.

Also on Saturday, at the Meadowlands, potentially one of the fastest 3-year-old colts in the sport—Western Vintage—faces four others in a $100,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final. The sometimes hard to handle but exceedingly fast son of Western Ideal won his only start of the year in 1:49 4/5 at the Meadowlands.

At Tioga on Sunday, three $41,300 New York Sire Stakes races could produce a starter or two in one of the big dances this year. Ideal Magic and Winds Of Change are two of the colts that have the potential to tackle the division’s elite.