Sweet Lou, reigning 2-year-old colt pacing champion, has not quite lived up to the expectations this season of his trainer Ron Burke.
However, Sweet Lou drew the rail for his elimination heat in Thursday's $487,550 Little Brown Jug. "Starting from the rail means that we're going down the road and if you are going to beat us you're going to have to pace around us. We're going to pace as far and as fast as we can and we will see if he gets the job done,” said Burke.
Burke acknowledged that Sweet Lou has not lived up to his hopes for this season. "He's been a bit of a disappointment this year,” said Burke. "He's had some health issues. He's fought viruses all summer. And, he's had some horrible trips in his major stakes races. I think those early miles this year have caught up with him. He hasn't really had a bad mile but he's just gone some unbelievingly hard fractions.”
Dave Palone, who has driven Sweet Lou in all of his 2012 starts, will be shooting for his second Jug victory. Sweet Lou won 10 of his 12 starts last year and earned $686,647. So far in 2012, Sweet Lou has six wins, one second and one third in 11 outings and winnings of $520,217.
Sweet Lou won eliminations of the $1.5-mmilion North America Cup, $600,000 Meadowlands Pace and $500,000 Delvin Miller Adios. However, he finished 5th in the NA Cup Final, 4th in the Meadowlands Pace Final, and 4th in the Adios Final. In his last start, on Sept. 1 in the $200,000 PASS Final at Pocono Downs, he was parked to the quarter and got beat out of the two hole by Dapper Dude.
Burke says Sweet Lou trained real good last week and hopefully he'll be ready to go. Burke thinks there are two groups of top horses.
"Bolt The Duer, A Rocknroll Dance and Michael's Power are in the top group and Dapper Dude, Thinking Out Loud and Sweet Lou are on the next level,” offered Burke.
Dapper Dude will start from post five and A Rocknroll Dance will be on the outside from post seven.
"We've never won the Jug but my father trained Western Graduate, the winner of the 2007 Jugette. Having the rail is probably our best shot ever and Sweet Lou probably is the best horse we've ever had in the Jug.”
Burke plans to train Sweet Lou Monday morning, and then let him relax on Tuesday and jog him for about half an hour on Wednesday.
Burke knows how exciting it would be to win the Jug, but he said it won't be easy. "I'm a fan of heat racing. Instead of two good days of racing it makes one great day of racing. I don't think its that tough on horses. I think they are perfectly capable and for the fans it makes a great show.” (Little Brown Jug)