Almost nothing that happens in the $133,625 Empire Breeders Classic final for 3-year-old pacing colts on Sunday at Tioga Downs could shake owner Ken Jacobs confidence in his standout performer Kenneth J. This career winner of $427,000 headlines the afternoon card that also showcases the Empire Breeders Classic filly finalist racing for $132,625.
Jacobs, a businessman from
“The way he won that race was very impressive,” said owner Jacobs of the elimination. “It was fantastic. He’s in pretty good shape and is sound. We’re being very patient with him, but he’s coming back the way that was planned.”
His accomplishments on the track last year—winning the New York Sire Stakes championship, beating Grand Circuit stock at The Red Mile and finishing second in the Breeders Crown—prompted him to be dubbed an early season favorite for some of the top 3-year-old pacing stakes, including the $1.5 million North America Cup raced at Mohawk Racetrack in June.
“We’re going to be there,” said Jacobs emphatically on Thursday of the North America Cup. “He’s more mature this year and we don’t have to be cautious every race like last year. When he was a 2-year-old each race was a new obstacle. Now we’re pretty confident in him.
“I don’t think he knows he’s racing,” added the owner. “Last year when he went in 1:50.3 in
Joey Rico, another Bettor’s Delight colt, scored in the other elimination in 1:53.2, but has not yet shown the same speed as Kenneth J. The two winners were able to select their post position for the final with Kenneth J starting from the rail and Joey Rico choosing post two. The event will be contested as race nine on the 10-race program.
The $132,625 Empire Breeders Classic final for pacing fillies, carded as race seven, may be more hotly contested than the colts. In one of last week’s eliminations three fillies all finished within a head of each other. Last year’s New York Sire Stakes champion Paula’s Best prevailed over Bettoronthebeach and Sky Queen, who finished in a dead heat for second.
Paula’s Best is a Pro Bono Best filly owned by Larry Roman of
In the other elimination, Betting Machine had a larger margin of victory for trainer and co-owner George Teague Jr. This was her first career start in
By virtue of their elimination victories the connections of the winners were able to select their post position for the final. Teague had the first choice and decided to start Betting Machine from post three and Paula’s Best will be on the rail.
Post time for the matinee program is 1:15 p.m. (HHBNY)