Trainer Dave Menary is focused on getting He's Watching prepared for Sunday's $255,525 Empire Breeders Classic for 3-year-old male pacers at Tioga Downs, but he's also looking forward to the colt's next probable challenge: A shot at the Pacing Triple Crown.
The first jewel in the Triple Crown, the Cane Pace, is scheduled for Sept. 1 at Tioga Downs, with eliminations, if necessary, Aug. 24. He's Watching is not eligible to the Cane Pace, but Menary – who owns the horse with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust – is ready to pay the $35,000 fee to supplement to the race.
"That's my game plan,” Menary said. "I have a lot of goals. In the short term, I'm looking at Sunday. Right after Sunday, I'm concentrating on the Triple Crown. The Cane kicks it off. We've got to ante up and supplement to the Cane, and that's our plan. We plan on supplementing to the Cane. We plan on being there with bells on.
"Hopefully things go well this week. We've got a decision to make and it's something I'll talk about with all my partners. But we're pretty confident in what we've got. You can't win the Triple Crown if you don't win the first leg of the Triple Crown.”
No horse has won the Pacing Triple Crown since No Pan Intended in 2003. The second jewel in the Triple Crown is the Little Brown Jug, to be held Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio, and the third is the Messenger Stakes, slated for Oct. 25 at Yonkers Raceway.
He's Watching has won four of seven races this year and brings a three-race victory streak to the Empire Breeders Classic final. For his career, the son of American Ideal-Baberhood, has won 12 of 15 starts and $856,207.
Last Sunday, He's Watching won his EBC elimination by a half-length over JK Endofanera in 1:51.1 over a sloppy track. He's Watching, who was making his first start since winning the Meadowlands Pace in a world-record-equaling 1:46.4 on July 12, starts the EBC final from post three with driver Tim Tetrick. He is the 4-5 favorite on the morning line.
"He's had a super week,” Menary said. "He keeps making me look good. I'm pretty confident heading to the final. We were lucky to get the job done in the elimination and we got to pick our post. I couldn't be happier with what I see. I trained him very easy, but I loved the way he trained on Wednesday. He loves his work.”
Last year, He's Watching was 8-for-8 and received the Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old male pacer. Among his victories was a 1:50 triumph that established the track record for 2-year-old pacers at Tioga Downs, and at the time was the fastest mile ever by a 2-year-old colt on a five-eighths-mile oval.
"I think I have the fastest horse going, but I think I also have one of the freshest horses going,” Menary said, referring to He's Watching having two three-week layoffs since the end of May. "I'm pretty confident. He ships well, he does well; he's a special horse.”
JK Endofanera, who won the North America Cup on June 14, is among two horses in the EBC final trained by Ron Burke. The entry is 2-1 on the morning line despite JK Endofanera and driver Brian Sears drawing post eight. JK Endofanera has won five of eight races this year and nine of 15 in his career, with total earnings of $941,642 for owner 3 Brothers Stables.
Winds Of Change, who won the other EBC elimination, will start from post one for driver David Miller and trainer Linda Toscano. His victory last Sunday, with Tetrick driving, was his first in six starts this season. The son of American Ideal-Art's Temptress, has won three of 13 career races, including divisions of the Champlain and Tompkins-Geers stakes, and is owned by Brittany Farms and Val D'Or Farms.
Part of an entry with Jimmy Takter-trained Capital Account, Winds Of Change is 6-1 on the morning line. (HRC)