by James Witherite, Tioga Downs racing media
After his convincing Meadowlands Pace victory, Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero, and the Muscara Racing Trust's He's Watching ($2.50) cemented himself atop the three-year-old pacing division with an equally remarkable 1:49.1 victory in the $255,525 Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs on Sunday (August 10) afternoon.
The son of American Ideal found himself in an early tussle with Twin B Speedo (Mark MacDonald) and North America Cup winner JK Endofanera (Brian Sears), pushing clear on the first turn before controlling the terms through a sensible :55.4 half mile. On the backstretch, Winds of Change (David Miller) advanced first-over into a narrow second, forcing He's Watching to accelerate to the far turn. While He's Watching was able to withstand the added pressure of a :26.3 third quarter, Winds of Change could not, backpedalling off the far turn and ceding second to the pocket-sitting JK Endofanera. He's Watching continued to pull away off the corner, drawing off to a four-length win in rein to Tim Tetrick by way of a torrid :53.2 back half. JK Endofanera was all-out while giving futile chase the entirety of the stretch, but remained a clear second over Twin B Speedo.
Winning trainer David Menary indicated plans for He's Watching to contend the Pacing Triple Crown, which commences at Tioga with the Cane Pace on Monday, September 1.
The $244,875 Empire Breeders Classic event for three-year-old pacing fillies saw James Avritt, Sr.'s Precocious Beauty ($10.40) sustain a first-over bid for the final half-mile of her 1:51.1 score, wearing down the pace-setting Delightful Dragon (David Miller) before pulling clear in the stretch. Major Dancer (Brian Sears) couldn't rally off live cover, all-out to chase through the stretch, but finishing two lengths in arrears. Blush Hanover (Jim Morrill, Jr.) rallied off cover to just miss the fading Delightful Dragon in the photograph for third, but was elevated to third placing after Delightful Dragon was found guilty of a pylon violation on the far turn.
Doug McNair drove Precocious Beauty, a daughter of Art Major, for trainer Gregg McNair.
The Sunday undercard featured four $28,250 divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for two-year-old pacing colts and geldings, with The Spy (1:53.0, Tim Tetrick), Lone Survivor (1:52.4, David Miller), Americanprimetime (1:52.4, Tyler Buter), and Southwind Masimo (1:54.0, Patrick Lachance) prevailing in their respective divisions.
Racing returns to Tioga for a special Monday (August 11) evening card. The first of 13 races is scheduled for 6:15 p.m. EDT.