07/10/2014 4:33PM

Meadowlands: Elim winners headline $776K Pace Final

Ken Weingartner
He's Watching and JK Endofanera look to parlay their elimination wins into a victory in the Meadowlands Pace final.

Could it be that the dust is starting to settle in the murky 3-year-old pacing colt division? If form holds true for elimination winners He’s Watching and JK Endofanera in the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace final on Saturday night, the pair will clearly join McWicked as the leading troika.

It was a tale of two horses in the eliminations for He’s Watching and JK Endofanera. The former rode live cover to a very easy 1:48 1/5 win while the latter did more work, brushing to the front at the half and fending off multiple challengers gamely in 1:48 2/5.

For He’s Watching it was a rare race where he didn’t have to do all the heavy lifting. Following an abysmal 2014 debut in the Art Rooney eliminations at Yonkers Raceway, the David Menary trainee was on the engine in each of his last three starts including making a big move under hard fractions of 53 2/5 and 1:20 3/5 in the North America Cup final at Mohawk.

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“I think if I gave him that trip from Mohawk (NA Cup) here, he holds on. This track is a more speed-favoring track most of the time,” said regular driver Tim Tetrick about the switch to the Meadowlands.

“I don’t think anybody can ever question this horse’s speed,” said Menary. “[Saturday] is the first time this horse has had a trip in his whole life. He’s done all the work and he’s done a good job doing it.”

 While He’s Watching has had difficulty building on his perfect 8-for-8 rookie season, JK Endofanera has taken the bull by the horns. The son of Art Major has accumulated five wins in six 2014 starts with his only defeat suffered in the NA Cup eliminations. With the exception of that evening, the Ron Burke student has shown a certain determination and desire to finish first that is the mark of a top horse.

“It seems like every time I call on this horse he keeps going forward. You have to like that about him,” said driver Brian Sears after the colt’s elimination victory.

Rightfully so, JK Endofanera and He’s Watching were installed as the 2-1 and 5-2 top choices on the morning line for the 35th edition of the Pace at the Meadowlands. They will start in posts two and three, respectively. While the connections of each horse are confident, they realize that most of the 10 finalists can step up with a big mile at any time.

“After winning the North America Cup I would think yes,” said Sears on being the horse to beat in the final, “but this is a nice group of colts and you have to earn it.”

“I think he is definitely one of the ones to beat,” said Tetrick. “Brian’s (Sears) horse is a really talented horse. If I could go back and redo my drive in the North America Cup, and I don’t make that move, Brian is too far back. It is a very tough group and the trip is going to win most of these races.”

Slated as race nine on a virtually all-stakes 13-race card, the Meadowlands Pace is not without longshots with a legitimate chance of taking home the top prize. The “wise guy” horse of the group could be Always B Miki. The naturally speedy son of Always A Virgin was a narrowly beaten second behind JK Endofanera in elimination action. The Joe Holloway colt, who starts from post nine with David Miller, has displayed issues with steering but is clearly fast enough when feeling right.

Another contender could be Sometimes Said (post eight), the other runner-up from the elimination miles. In his first start with Corey Callahan at the helm, he roughed it uncovered yet hung in nicely behind He’s Watching.

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Luck Be Withyou is the fourth choice on the morning line at 6-1 from post five. He flashed some early speed in his elimination and finished steadily for third. The other third-place finisher was fourth choice Lyonssomewhere at 8-1. He’ll team up with Yannick Gingras from post six.

The Meadowlands Pace is the featured attraction on a card that offers bettors three guaranteed pick four wagers and a guaranteed pick five. The $100,000 mid pick four is anchored by the Pace, which also starts a $50,000 late pick four.