JK Endofanera was named to honor the past, but owner Alan Katz hopes the colt has a great future too. The homebred pacer makes his 2014 debut Saturday in the $47,253 John Simpson Memorial Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers at Meadowlands Racetrack. JK Endofanera, who finished last season by capturing the $534,500 Governor's Cup at the Big M, has won four of seven starts and never finished worse than second. He starts the Simpson from post five with Yannick Gingras driving for trainer Ron Burke.
"We're looking forward to it, said Katz, who is joined by brothers Ron and Steve in making up the 3 Brothers Stables ownership group. "Hopefully, everything should be good. His qualifiers (wins in 1:53.2 and 1:52.4) were both good. But time means nothing these days. Time don't mean it's class.
"Nobody knows how horses will come back at (age) 3. You've got to stay sound and healthy and have some luck; a lot can go wrong. But you've got to be hopeful. Horses like him give you hope.
JK Endofanera is a son of stallion Art Major out of the 3 Brothers Stables' mare Presidential Lady, who was a homebred multiple stakes winner. JK Endofanera is a full brother to JK Fine Art, who was second to Handsoffmycookie in both the 2011 New York Sire Stakes championship for 2-year-old filly pacers and the 2012 Lismore Pace.
"We bred (Presidential Lady) to some other stallions, but the cross worked with the Art Major line, Katz said. "Once in a while, you get lucky. There's another full sister in training and so far she looks good.
All of the 3 Brothers Stables' horses are named with the initials JK in memory of late family patriarch Jack Katz. JK Endofanera was named to honor Jack Katz as well as veterinarian Dr. Stephen P. Dey II, who passed away the day the horse was foaled at the Dey family's Heritage Hill Farm.
"It was the end of an era, Katz said.
Katz said JK Endofanera is staked to all the major races for 3-year-old male pacers on big tracks, including the North America Cup, Meadowlands Pace and Breeders Crown. The colt will not race on half-mile ovals because of his size.
"He's a big horse, Katz said. "He needs to be able to stretch out.
Following is the Simpson field in post order: 1. Ideal Cowboy, 2. Workandplayhard, 3. Elite Awards, 4. Stratos Hanover, 5. JK Endofanera, 6. Sweet Rock, 7. Jet Airway, 8. Allstar Partner, 9. Moliere Hanover, 10. Somewhere Fancy.
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Four horses were entered for the $33,016 John Simpson Memorial for 3-year-old filly pacers on Friday night at the Meadowlands. Two of the fillies are from the stable of trainer Ron Burke. Post time for the non-wagering event is 6:50 p.m., prior to the Big M's regular card. The field in post order is Ken Doll J, Rockingcam Park, JK Molly, and Surfside Sexy.
Only Surfside Sexy has raced this season, winning two of three starts and $7,132 for owner Our Horse Cents Stables. She is one of the two horses entered by Burke.
JK Molly, racing out of the Burke Stable since October, won five of 11 races last season and $148,513. Her wins included the Simpson Stakes at Vernon Downs and a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs, where she beat eventual Dan Patch Award-winner Precocious Beauty in a track-record 1:52.2. She also won three divisions of the New York Sire Stakes for owner 3 Brothers Stable.
Rockingcam Park, who finished second to Precocious Beauty in a division of the Eternal Camnation last year, has won three of 10 races and $67,378 out of the stable of trainer Ron Coyne Jr. and owners Rockingcam Park Stable, Blair Corbeil, Erna Corbeil, and J&T Silva Stables.
Ken Doll J, owned by Ken Jacobs and trained by Linda Toscano, won one of six races and $12,814 last year. Her victory came in her final start, a 1:51.4 triumph in a late closer at Lexington's Red Mile. The time of 1:51.4 was tied for the seventh fastest by a 2-year-old filly pacer last season.
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Trainer Julie Miller has had her hands full lately, with husband, and racing partner, driver Andy Miller on the mend from broken vertebrae sustained in a driving accident on April 15. Sevruga, the 6-year-old trotter from their stable, on the other hand, is well on his way following his own recovery, with two consecutive wins coming into Friday's $30,000 Free for All Handicap at the Meadowlands.
Sevruga, who won nine of 22 races and earned $484,575 in 2013 for owner KDM Stables, had surgery for a bone chip in a hind ankle last fall. His wins included the John Cashman Jr. Memorial and Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, both at the Meadowlands, and he finished worse than third only once in his first 19 starts. He was off the board in his last three races and missed the final of the TVG Free For All Series after ending the preliminary rounds as the points leader.
"We gave him the recommended recovery time that Dr. (surgeon Patty) Hogan wanted and he seems to have bounced back really good, Julie Miller said. "Now we're going at it with the higher level competition on Friday night.
Sevruga will start Friday's race from post five with Ron Pierce handling the driving. Perennial trotting powerhouse and $4.14 million winner Arch Madness, making his seasonal debut at age 10, has post six while Uncle Peter, holder of a not-yet-accepted Elitlopp invitation, has post seven.
"I'm just happy he's bounced back, Miller said."I think he can still compete with the top horses.On the mile track I'm not sure it makes much difference (that Arch Madness and Uncle Peter are outside him). It's a pretty equal playing field; it's a good race with a lot of good horses.It'll be a nice race for the fans.
Unlike some of the sport's top older trotters looking at European racing dates, Sevruga will stay close to home.
"He'll stay domestic, if we can do well here, that's our agenda, Miller said. "The good horses do overcome them and we just try to make sure they're in top condition when they do race. I'm really confident in how he's come back and just hope he still has it in him and can maintain it.
Andy Miller is just two weeks into an anticipated six-month recovery period and doing as well as can be expected.
"Andy has a back brace and is able to walk a little bit, Julie Miller said. "He's on the road to recovery. We're thankful it wasn't worse and hope it will be a fast six months.The kids (T.J. and Olivia) have really come up to the plate and are helping with the horses at home. At 16 and 14, they can really help out a lot.
Following is the field in post order for the FFA Handicap: 1. Quick Deal, 2. Sweet Justice, 3. Not Afraid, 4. Daylon Magician, 5. Sevruga, 6. Arch Madness, 7. Uncle Peter.
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Female trotter Cedar Dove and male trotter Corky are entered to make their 2014 debuts in the B2/B1 handicap on Friday night at the Meadowlands.
Cedar Dove was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old filly trotter in 2011. She has won 14 of 50 lifetime races and earned $1.17 million. Last year, she won a division of the Miss Versatility (in a dead heat with Maven) and finished second in the Breeders Crown and Armbro Flight. She is owned by Bill Weaver and the Adam Victor & Son Stable.
"I just have to make sure I don't have her ready too early because she seems to fade away as the year goes on, trainer Noel Daley said earlier this year. "Keeping weight on her is her biggest issue. But so far so good; I'm real happy with her. She won't race in too much else other than those (major stakes) races. Canada seems to wipe her out, so I'll probably do the Armbro Flight but won't go for the early Miss Versatility this year.
Corky, who won the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial last season as a 3-year-old, is trained by Jimmy Takter and will be driven by Johnny Takter. He has won seven of 24 lifetime starts and $895,865 for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, and Jim Fielding.
The field in post order: 1. World Cup, 2. Boffin, 3. Firstclassprincess, 4. Tiger's Too Good, 5. Corky, 6. Upfront Billy, 7. Drift Away, 8. Cedar Dove, 9. Time To Quit.
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Speedy pacer Drop The Ball makes her seasonal debut Friday night, facing eight rivals in the B1/A2 handicap for fillies and mares at the Meadowlands.
The 6-year-old mare, who last season paced the fastest mile in history by a female pacer of any age on a five-eighths-mile track, winning in 1:48.2 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, starts from post nine in the nine-horse field. She will be driven by Corey Callahan for trainer Ross Croghan.
Last year, Drop The Ball won five of 15 races and $291,198 for owners Let It Ride Stables, Mentally Stable, and Dana Parham. She picked up all five victories during a seven-race span from mid-June to early September. Among her triumphs was the Lady Liberty and she finished second to Anndrovette in the Roses Are Red.
Drop The Ball has won 21 of 50 career starts and $1.30 million. She also holds the world record for a 4-year-old female pacer on a five-eighths oval, thanks to a 1:48.4 victory at Harrah's Philadelphia in 2012.
She prepped for Friday's race with two qualifiers, finishing fourth on April 19 and third behind male pacers Sweet Lou and Odds On Equuleus on April 26. She was timed in 1:53 in her most recent effort.
"She can really go fast, Callahan said. "She didn't finish up the season too well last year, but Croghan has made a few (bridle) changes. We've been sticking her right on the gate in her qualifiers and we've had no problems with her. Her qualifiers were OK.
The field in post order: 1. Handsoffmycookie, 2. Spend It All, 3. Art Ideal, 4. Macharoundtheclock, 5. Marty Party, 6. Shine N Shimmer, 7. Scandalous Hanover, 8. Momma Rock, 9. Drop The Ball.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications