05/12/2017 3:07PM

Meadowlands: She's Watching tops busy morning for the Alagna Armada

Ken Weingartner
She's Watching was out for her second qualifier of 2017 following an injury-shortened rookie season

She’s Watching raced only twice last year, but it was enough to get trainer Tony Alagna, as well as others, to want to keep watching. A three-quarter sister to Dan Patch Award-winner and world champion He’s Watching, She’s Watching was two-for-two before a hairline fracture in her left hind ankle sidelined her the rest of the season.

She’s Watching is back now and preparing for her 3-year-old campaign and Alagna is looking forward to her return. The filly pacer qualified on Friday at the Meadowlands, winning in 1:54 1/5 with a 26 1/5 final quarter-mile, with Scott Zeron in the sulky. It was the second qualifier of the year for She’s Watching, who was second in 1:54 2/5 (last quarter in 26 2/5) on May 6 at the Big M.

“I was very happy,” Alagna said about She’s Watching, who is a daughter of stallion Rocknroll Hanover and out of the mare Baberhood. “We were very high on her last year and she got hurt. It was nothing major, she just needed some time. We thought it was in her best interest to put her away and let her heal up. So far this year she’s been great.”

She’s Watching, a $200,000 purchase at the 2015 Standardbred Horse Sale, is owned by Brittany Farms and Marvin Katz. She won her career debut in 1:53 3/5 last July, and then won the opening leg of the Kindergarten Classic Series in 1:52 1/5 at the Meadowlands.

“I thought she was as good as anything out there before she got hurt,” Alagna said. “She won in 1:52 1/5 in her second lifetime start, and you don’t see many 2-year-old pacing fillies that do it as impressively as she did it that early.

“We’re very happy with how she’s coming back. Someday, hopefully in the long-distance future, she’ll be heading to (be bred to) Captaintreacherous. She was bought with Captaintreacherous in mind, and that’s the ultimate plan for her when it’s all said and done.”

She’s Watching was one of 13 horses in the Alagna Armada at Friday’s qualifiers. Other winners were 3-year-old male trotter Signal Hill and 3-year-old male pacer Art Scene.

Signal Hill (Muscle Hill-Special Appeal) captured his qualifier in 1:55 4/5 with Brett Miller driving for owners Brittany Farms, David McDuffee, Marvin Katz, and Adriano Sorella. A $250,000 yearling buy whose family includes 2006 Horse of the Year Glidemaster, Signal Hill won twice last season, with one of his victories coming in a division of the Champlain Stakes.

“He was better today,” Alagna said. “I’ve got a couple more adjustments to make on him, but I was happy with the way he did it today.”

Art Scene (American Ideal-Lover Of Art) won his qualifier in 1:54 with Zeron driving. The colt is owned by Brittany Farms, Alagna Racing, In The Gym Partners, and Americam Art Stable.

Other notables from the Alagna Stable were 4-year-old male trotter Winter Harbor (Muscle Hill-Spectacular Bay) and 3-year-old male pacer Odds On Delray (Somebeachsomewhere-My Little Dragon).

“Overall I was happy with the whole bunch,” Alagna said. “Winter Harbor, first time back, no trotting hobbles this year, was very good. Odds On Delray was a little foot sore getting out of Florida, but he’s getting better. I think we’re close to getting him to where we need him to be.”

Three-year-old filly trotter Hillarmbro (Muscle Hill-Armbro Emma) got the morning’s first win, with trainer Trond Smedshammer driving. She won in 1:54 4/5 for owner Purple Haze Stables as she prepped for the first round of the New Jersey Sire Stakes on May 19 at the Meadowlands.

Chezatter (Explosive Matter-Chez Lucie), another Purple Haze-owned 3-year-old filly trotter in Smedshammer’s barn, finished fifth in her first qualifier of the season, timed in 1:57 3/5. She won her elimination for the Doherty Memorial last year and finished second to Ariana G in the final. She also won her elimination for the Breeders Crown and finished fourth in the final.

“I was a little bit concerned about (Chezatter),” Smedshammer said. “She’s been very nervous. I’ve been up here a couple times to train, and she’s been very nervous both times, and she was nervous today. She must have tied up because (driver David Miller) said she let go of him and got on the right line really hard and had no trot, which is not like her. Hopefully we’ll get her straightened out.

“Hillarmbo was good today. A little bit too aggressive, but she was good.”

Cufflink Hanover (Andover Hall-CR Savoire Faire) prepped for the first round of the Graduate Series for 4-year-old trotters by winning in 1:54 4/5 for driver David Miller and trainer John Butenschoen. Cufflink Hanover, owned by Crawford Farms Racing, went off-stride in a qualifier two tries back, but has won back-to-back qualifiers since an equipment adjustment to raise the gelding’s head.

“I’m very happy with him here today,” assistant trainer Tyler Butenschoen said about last year’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion, who joined the family’s stable this year. “He’s been real good the last two.

“We raced against him quite a bit last year, and I thought he had a very good year. He seems strong. He seems like a horse that isn’t the best on the front, so going on the front last week we were real happy with him. He was on the front a long way again today, and he just seems to get a little bit lost out there. But he was good so I was really happy with him. David was real happy with him too.”

Other winners today were 3-year-old female pacer Planet Rock (Rock N Roll Heaven-Villa Hanover) in 1:53 3/5 for driver John Campbell, trainer Linda Toscano, and owner Ken Jacobs; 3-year-old male pacer Summer Side (Well Said-Beachy Lady) in 1:52 for driver/trainer Ray Schnittker and owners Schnittker and Howard Taylor; and 8-year-old male pacer Mel Mara (Lis Mara-M L Revrac) in 1:50 3/5 for driver Corey Callahan, trainer Dylan Davis, and owners Robert Cooper Stables and J&T Silva Stables.

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--Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com--