Monday, September 2, 2013

He's Watching smashes track record in NYSS victory

He's Watching sets a new track record

The sensational 2-year-old colt pacer He's Watching convinced Vernon Downs fans that he is indeed something special after recording a blazing 1:50 victory in the opening division of Saturday night's $107,925 New York Sire Stakes feature for freshman male members of the lateral gait.

Being teamed for the first time by Jeff Gregory, and going off as the overwhelming favorite in Saturday's third race, He's Watching left the starting gate cautiously and was third after a :26.2 opening split.  The bay son of American Ideal-Baberhood switched into another gear heading down the backstretch and was in control at the half in :54.2.  Enjoying a two-length advantage after passing the third station in 1:22.4, the talented colt powered through a :27.1 final quarter to defeat the pocket-sitting Sir Sam's Z-Tam by more than two lengths.

The superb showing lowered the Vernon standard for freshman colt pacers by one full second, and equaled the clocking he displayed while setting a world record for his age, sex and gait over Tioga Downs' 5/8ths-mile track on Aug. 9.  

The magical mile kept He's Watching undefeated after five starts and improved his career winnings to more than $122,600 for trainer Dave Menary, an owner of the low-priced ($3,000) youngster along with Brad Grey and Michael Guerriero.

Saturday's other NYSS winners were Forty Five Red (If I Can Dream-Sakura Hanover) in 1:51.1 with Rick Plano piloting for trainer Ron Burke, the Burke Racing Stable and the Our Horse Cents Stable, and Big Boy Dreams (If I Can Dream-Stefani Blue Chip) in 1:51.3 with Cat Manzi doing the steering for trainer Arnie Marks and owner Dominick J. Rosato.

Hall-of-Famer Manzi was behind Memorial Day J in race one, the opening segment of Saturday's $37,900 Excelsior Series competition for NY-bred  freshman male sidewheelers, and guided the bay son of Kenneth J-Sentra to a fast finishing 1:53.3 victory.  The career-best clocking improved the swift-striding youngster's summary line to 2-1-0 after six starts and his purse winnings to $14,035 for owner Ken Jacobs. 

The evening's other Excelsior Series winners were Cabbie's Delight (Bettor's Delight-Get A Cab), in 1:53.4 with Gregory guiding for trainer Marks and owner Jacobs, and Sir ALTB Z-Tam (If I Can Dream-Mariah Blue Chip), in 1:55.3 with Gregory at the controls for trainer Pat Lachance, an owner of the first-time pari-mutuel winner along with the M&M Harness Racing stable and Ira Rosenblum.

Saturday's speed splurge hit a low note after newcomer Pontiac Luck scorched Vernon's 7/8ths-mile oval in 1:49, establishing a fresh track standard for aged pacing geldings and a career-fastest win clocking.  Plano was at the controls as the 7-year-old son of Northern Luck-Pontiac Queen led from start to finish and was unchallenged at the mile's end.  The time trimmed 1/5th-of-a-second off the former Vernon mark, set by JK Panache back on June 22, and it came within 2/5ths-of-a-second of the fastest mile in the track's 60-year history, a 1:48.3 showing by the pacer He's Gorgeous in May of 2012.   It was the seventh season's score and the 34th all-time tally for the career-winner of $317,437, who is trained by Ron Burke and registered to the Burke Racing Stable and Weaver Bruscemi, LLC.

In addition to Gregory's driving triple, Vernon's leading driver for the second straight season, Plano, posted four first-place finishes for the seventh time at the 58-program meeting.  Others recording multiple victories during Saturday's 10-race program were driver Manzi (2 wins), trainers Marks (three tallies), Burke (three triumphs) and Edgar Clarke (two victories).   The Burke Racing Stable enjoyed three scores during Saturday's slate, while owners Jacobs and Weaver Bruscemi were the recipients of a pair of first-place finishes. 

DOWNS DOINGS—The previous 1:51 Vernon mark for freshman colt pacers was established by Schoolkids in August of 2008…The world record of 1:49 for this category was turned in by Sweet Lou in 2011... The Downs has scheduled a special 10-race matinee program on Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 2) starting at 1:15 p.m, which features a $10,000 Open trot in event eight.…A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at