10/02/2014 11:42AM

Red Mile: Top sophomores battle in the Tattersalls Pace

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Derick
Always B Miki has won five of his last six races.

Rarely is anything split as right down the middle as the 2014 Tattersalls Pace at The Red Mile on Saturday afternoon. The race lured 14 horses split into two $218,300 seven-horse fields with each featuring an equal amount of talent.

Leading the first division are two of the fastest 3-year-old pacers in the sport—Always B Miki and He’s Watching. Always B Miki is the “now horse” of the sophomore ranks and he did nothing to tarnish that moniker with a sparkling 1:47 4/5 victory in the Bluegrass series over the famed Red Mile surface last week.

The Joe Holloway-trained Always B Miki has won five of his previous six starts with his only defeat coming over a somewhat tiring wet surface at Hoosier Park two starts back. The colt brushed to the front and was defeated by the pocket-sitting JK Endofanera, who starts in the second division.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch the best 3-year-old pacers battle at The Red Mile on Saturday--LIVE on DRF!]

“He’s been really good since the (Meadowlands) Pace,” said Holloway. “That was a great mile there at Hoosier. I thought Jk Endofanera hadn’t been great recently, but I underestimated him. You give any horse that kind of trip and they are going to be tough.”

Holloway knows how to get a horse to peak at The Red Mile. Last year he sent out Shebestingin to the fastest mile ever by a female pacer (1:47). Now he has another fast 3-year-old with some quirks ready for a potential big mile. Always B Miki has battled himself much of the year and has exhibited trouble pacing a straight line at times.

“Even now, we have it a little bit under control, but he still gets on one line then the other,” said Holloway, who doesn’t think the expected cool temperatures in the upper 50’s will prohibit Always B Miki from a fast mile. “I don’t know if any horse is capable of just going out and going gangbusters, but he carries his speed a long way.”

Interestingly Always B Miki will have to defeat one of the fastest horses in the sport. He’s Watching earned that title with his 1:46 4/5 Meadowlands Pace victory but hasn’t won since August 10 at Tioga Downs, a three-race losing skid.

“He’s getting better all the time,” said trainer David Menary, who along with co-owners Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero, and Muscara Racing ponied up $45,000 for a chance to win the $109,150 winner’s share. “He’s already made over $800,000 and even if we finish second we make $9,000,” concluded Menary on the decision to supplement.

He’s Watching was a strong second behind Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach in last week’s Bluegrass despite a first-over trip into slow fractions. Menary is hoping for more luck this week and says the Red Mile surface has helped his colt get over some minor foot issues.

Always B Miki starts from post one with David Miller in the bike while Tim Tetrick will steer He’s Watching from post four. Dancin Hill, Beat The Drum, Caviart Luca, Capital Account, and Somestarsomewhere complete the field for the eighth race.

Round two of the Tattersalls is led by the aforementioned JK Endofanera along with Melmerby Beach and Let’s Drink On It.

JK Endofanera had a bad case of seconditis before Yannick Gingras took over the lines in two of his last three starts. He stormed past Always B Miki last time at Hoosier and seems destined as the off-time favorite.

Melmerby Beach was no match for Always B Miki last week but had won his prior two starts. Despite coming up a bit steppy while sitting the pocket in his Red Mile effort, trainer Brent MacGrath thinks his charge is on the right path.

“He seems to be coming into his own,” said MacGrath, who added that he made some changes to correct the colt’s poor gait from his prior start.

The wise-guy horse in the field could be Let’s Drink On It. The Joe Seekman trainee has been a fringe player against North America’s best for much of the year, but he gets a new pilot in Brian Sears this time around.

The field for the second Tattersalls division (race 11) lines up as follows: 1-Winds Of Change; 2-Somesizesomestyle; 3-Let’s Drink On It; 4-Melberby Beach; 5-Stevensville; 6-JK Endofanera; 7-Doo Wop Hanover.

Post time for the 13-race card, which also features the undefeated 2-year-old Artspeak in the $72,000 International Stallion Stake, is 1 p.m.