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HE’S WATCHING PUTS SIGHTS ON BREEDERS CROWN

FREEHOLD, NJ – November 13, 2014 -- He’s Watching returns Saturday to the site of his biggest win, the Meadowlands Racetrack, and trainer Dave Menary is hopeful it will spark a return to winning form.

The colt, who captured the Meadowlands Pace in July with a world-record-equaling 1:46.4 performance, will try to snap a four-race skid when he competes in the first of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 3-year-old male pacers Saturday night at the Big M.


He's Watching [Lisa Photo]


“He’s undefeated at the Meadowlands, so he likes it here,” Menary said. “He seems fresh and happy. We’re just going to try to make sure everything is ironed out and hopefully get back on the right track.

“It’s a wide open (3-year-old colt) division.”

He’s Watching, who has won five of 12 races this year and earned $824,728, starts his elimination from post six and is 7-2 on the morning line. Supplemental entry Always B Miki, the winner of four races in a row and eight of his last nine, is the 8-5 choice from post four followed by North America Cup champ JK Endofanera at 5-2 from post one.

Little Brown Jug winner Limelight Beach is the 8-5 favorite in the second elimination, followed by Adios winner McWicked at 2-1.

The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $531,250 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final.

He’s Watching last won on Aug. 10, in the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs. In his most recent start he finished sixth in a division of the Tattersalls Pace won by Always B Miki. Afterward he was discovered to have suffered from atrial fibrillation, an electrical disorder of the heart rhythm, but has since been well.

“It’s something I’ve monitored, but I think it was a fluke thing,” said Menary, who owns the son of American Ideal-Baberhood with Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. “If it had been a different horse, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about it. I was pretty disappointed that day, but we’ve regrouped and he seems fresh.

“Hopefully we’ll have a good couple weeks.”

The Canadian-based Menary skipped the Messenger and Matron stakes and prepared He’s Watching for the Breeders Crown with two qualifiers at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario. He finished second in both, timed in 1:52.4 and 1:53.4.

“We bypassed the Messenger because that was rushing him,” Menary said. “I made the decision to skip the Matron just thinking it was a little less trucking and a little more time at home and I’d have him a little fresher.

“His qualifiers at home were better miles than they look. They were dirty, cold mornings. One morning it was a cold rain and the second qualifier it was snowing. We sat him pretty far back and the horses he missed getting up on are pretty decent horses.”

The Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male pacers features eight of the division’s top nine seasonal money-earners. Wins in an elimination and the final could go a long way toward deciding which horse receives the Dan Patch Award as the group’s best.

“I guess it depends who it is (that wins),” Menary said. “You might end up adding another horse to the mix. This is a big two weeks for everybody.”


BREEDERS CROWN NEWS & NOTES
When young trotter Cruzado Dela Noche went off stride at the start of his second lifetime race, trainer Nancy Johansson might have been disappointed, but when she watched what happened next, she was impressed.

Cruzado Dela Noche regained his footing and trotted his final quarter-mile in :26.3 to cap a :54.4 second half in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows.

“I was like, oh wow, he can go a little,” Johansson said, laughing. “He had an outside post and broke leaving the gate, which is something babies can do, but he’s shown speed from the beginning.”

Johansson hopes to see more of that speed Saturday when Cruzado Dela Noche competes in the second of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old male trotters. He will start from post nine, with driver David Miller, and is 6-1 on the morning line.

Kindergarten Classic Series champion French Laundry is the 5-2 favorite followed by Peter Haughton Memorial runner-up Uncle Lasse at 3-1. Both horses are trained by Johansson’s father, Jimmy Takter.

Takter’s Pinkman, the Valley Victory Stakes winner, is the 2-1 favorite in the first elimination, followed by Matron Stakes winner Habitat at 5-2 and Peter Haughton winner Centurion ATM at 4-1.

The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final.

Known around the stable as “Nacho,” Cruzado Dela Noche has won three of 10 races and earned $164,040 for owner Courant A B of Sweden. He is a son of 2010 Hambletonian winner Muscle Massive, a Takter-trained colt for which Johansson was the groom, out of the mare Alidade.

Cruzado Dela Noche beat French Laundry by three-quarters of a length in 1:53.4 in a division of the International Stallion Stakes in October. Only two 2-year-old male trotters have posted a faster winning time this season, Centurion ATM and Pinkman.

“He raced enormously,” Johansson said about the International Stallion, which was contested in a rainstorm at The Red Mile. “He trotted (1):53.4 in the pouring rain on the front end and did all the work himself. He’s very honest.”

Cruzado Dela Noche finished third in the Matron Stakes last week, beaten a half-length by Habitat, in his first start since the International Stallion.

“He was really good,” said Johansson, who also trains 2-year-old female pacer JK She’salady, the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing’s weekly Top 10 poll. “He hadn’t raced since Lexington so he was a little short, but I was happy with the race.

“I think he fits (in the Breeders Crown). I think he’s just as good as any of the other ones. I don’t think there’s anyone I’m really afraid of. I think if things work in his way he could just as well be the winner at the end as anyone else. I think he deserves a little more credit than he’s gotten. He’s living in Lady’s shadow a little bit I think.

“I like him a lot. Not only that, but he’s a Muscle Massive, which is very close to my heart.”

* * *

For his first 10 starts, 2-year-old male pacer Tomy Terror was a model of consistency, posting four wins and six second-place finishes. Trainer John Butenschoen would rather forget race No. 11.

Tomy Terror finished eighth in last week’s Matron Stakes, which was won by In The Arsenal over a “good” track at Dover Downs. Tomy Terror was at the front of the outer flow at the half and second on the outside to In The Arsenal at the three-quarters mark before dropping back in the stretch.

Butenschoen is looking for the gelding to bounce back Saturday when he competes in the second of two eliminations of the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male pacers at the Meadowlands. Tomy Terror drew post seven and is 9-2 on the morning line. In The Arsenal, who got post 10, is the 8-5 favorite.

“The Matron was very disappointing,” Butenschoen said. “We’re just going to throw out that race. It was a bad night weather-wise. I’m not so sure he didn’t displace and get his air shut off. Anything that was first up didn’t seem to play well on that track that night.

“But he came out of it great. The next day he was bucking and playing out in the field. We brought him in and jogged him a little bit and his blood work was normal. I trained him (Monday) before the (entry) box closed and decided to put him in. Hopefully he’ll go back to the form he showed us all year long.”

Tomy Terror is a son of Western Terror-Mib Hanover owned by William Wiswell, Jean Goehlen, Eugene Schick and VIP Internet Stable. His wins include divisions of the Pennsylvania All Stars, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes and Simpson Stakes, the latter in a track-record 1:50.2 at Vernon Downs.

He finished second by a nose to Yankee Bounty in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

“Yankee Bounty was no slouch,” Butenschoen said. “Just going off the competition that we faced in Pennsylvania and what they’ve done when they stepped out of the state, I think we’ve got a good shot. As long as he comes back to where he was, I think we’ll be OK.”

Multiple-stakes-winner Lost For Words is the 5-2 favorite in the first Breeders Crown elimination.

The top five finishers from each elimination advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22. Elim winners will draw for posts one through five for the final.

Butenschoen also sends Suit And Tie into the second of two Breeders Crown eliminations for 2-year-old male trotters Saturday at the Meadowlands. Suit And Tie, who has one win in 15 starts for owners Wiswell and M And L Of Delaware Inc., is 20-1 on the morning line.

He is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Kindergarten Classic Series championship, beaten only 2-1/2 lengths, and was third in his two previous starts.

“The Kindergarten final was what got us to put him in,” Butenschoen said. “He finished fifth, but he was just loaded with trot. Every week we raced him (recently) he just got better and better, so we decided to give him a try. The owners are game for it. They enjoy the business and the horse is ready. We’ll give it a go.”

* * *

The connections of Commander Crowe, Creatine, Intimidate and Market Share accepted byes in the Breeders Crown Open Trot, leaving 10 horses to battle in a single elimination Saturday. The top six finishers will advance to the $500,000 final on Nov. 22 at the Big M.

Maven is the 2-1 morning line favorite in the elimination, despite drawing post 10.

A 5-year-old daughter of Glidemaster-M Stewart, she is a two-time Breeders Crown champion, having won the Mare Trot last year and the division for 3-year-old filly trotters in 2012. She is coming off a win in the Muscle Hill, her third victory in 11 starts this season.

Maven, purchased Saturday for $750,000 by Herb Liverman, will try to become the first female to win the Open Trot since Moni Maker in 1998.

Other past Crown champions in the Open Trot are Market Share, Intimidate, Arch Madness and Wheeling N Dealin. Market Share captured the Open Trot last season and will try to become the first horse to win this division in back-to-back years since Fool’s Goal in 2002 and 2003.

European star Commander Crowe is making his third Breeders Crown appearance. He finished third in his previous two Crown starts, to San Pail in 2011 and Chapter Seven in 2012. The last invited foreign horse to win the Breeders Crown Trot was Italian sensation Varenne, who captured the 2001 trophy with a then-world-record 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands.

Commander Crowe and Arch Madness, who is making a record seventh appearance in the Breeders Crown series, both have earned more than $4.25 million lifetime, placing them among the top six trotters in history for career purses.

Arch Madness and Intimidate both won Breeders Crown trophies at the age of 3, while Wheeling N Dealin was the 2-year-old champion in 2012.

--by Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

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