JK Endofanera will be the 2-1 favorite for the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace with He's Watching a close 5-2 second choice. The two standout colts won their $50,000 Pace eliminations on Saturday night, setting the stage for a classic showdown on July 12 at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.
The top five finishers in each elimination advanced to the meet's top event for 3-year-old pacers.
JK Endofanera won the first elimination in a career-best 1:48,2 at the end of a surprisingly tight finish for the 2-5 favorite.
Having fended off Doo Wop Hanover rounding the final turn, JK Endofanera found stretch challengers to his left as Lyonssomewhere tried to squeeze up the pylons while to his right, Always B Miki came charging down the center of the track.
Showing the class that has carried him to five wins in six starts this year including the North America Cup, JK Endofanera dug in to hold off Always B Miki by a neck with Lyonssomewhere getting third.
Brian Sears handled the 3 Brothers homebred trained by Ron Burke.
"It's a pretty good bunch of colts and they were going to race me,” Sears said. "My horse raced game and was good to the wire.”
Doo Wop Hanover and National Debt also advanced to the final.
He's Watching won the faster elimination in 1:48.1, also a lifetime best.
Last year's Dan Patch champion following an eight-for-eight campaign, He's Watching has come back strong this season with two wins in five starts for Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust.
Despite starting from post 9, driver Tim Tetrick maneuvered He's Watching into a perfect second-over trip. They roared through the lane to reel in 17-1 long shot Sometimes Said by 2 3/4 lengths
"He's very fast and he's smart,” said Tetrick who drove for the colt for the second time. "He likes to win. I was just trying to put him in play, and work out that kind of a trip.”
Luck Be Withyou was third. Jet Airway and Tellitlikeitis also made the final from that elimination.
The connections of elimination winners won the right to select their posts in the final.
JK Endofanera won the coin flip and will start from post 2. He's Watching will be doing just that, along side the favorite in post 3.
The full field for The Meadowlands Pace in post position order:
1 National Debt 50-1
2 JK Endofanera 2-1
3 He's Watching 5-2
4 Tellitlikeitis 12-1
5 Luck Be Withyou 6-1
6 Lyonssomewhere 8-1
7 Jet Airway 15-1
8 Sometimes Said 15-1
9 Always B Miki 4-1
10 Doo Wop Hanover 30-1
Sandbetweenurtoes improved to five-for-five in 2014 in the $25,000 Mistletoe Shalee elimination. She won in a career-best 1:49.1 with Brett Miller driving for trainer Larry Remmen, paying $5 to win.
Uffizi Hanover, Weeper and Rock N Roll Xample had already secured byes into the $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee final for 3-year-old pacing fillies next Saturday.
The first seven finishers in the elimination advanced to the final. Precocious Beauty, Allstar Rating, Table Talk, Act Now, Gallie Bythe Beach and My Lady Day will join Sandbetweenurtoes in the final.
The field was also drawn Saturday for the William R. Haughton Memorial for Free-For-All pacers.
The lineup, in post position order:
1 Thinking Out Loud
3 Sweet Lou
4 State Treasurer
5 Captive Audience
6 Bettor's Edge
7 Bolt The Duer
8 Sunshine Beach
9 Clear Vision
10 Foiled Again