The 12-horse $510,300 Tattersalls for 3-year-old colt pacers Saturday afternoon at The Red Mile was expected to be a wild and wooly affair and it lived to its expectations as the contest had action to start to finish. When the dust settled it was the reigning divisional champion Sweet Lou reaching the wire first in 1:48.1, fighting off a determined upset bid by Hillbilly Hanover down the stretch.
With a race that has the North America Cup winner and the Meadowlands Pace champion starting from the second tier, it really was "expect the unexpected" and that's what happened. One horse that nobody expected to leave was Simply Business from post eight, but that's what Ron Pierce did as he had charge moving fast off the gate. Simply Business was able to finally secure the lead into the first turn over the Mark MacDonald-driven Sweet Lou, with the quarter reached in :25.2.
MacDonald then moved out and past Simply Business with Bolt The Duer, but there continued to be movement behind as others angled for position, including Bettor's Edge, who had rushed to the front at the :52.4 half. Pinned on the pylons was Thinking Out Loud and John Campbell as the field moved into the last turn.
As the three-quarter timer flashed 1:20, it was the first-over Dave Palone-driven Sweet Lou who rushed to the front. Sweet Lou led the field into the stretch but Hillbilly Hanover was in hot pursuit. Bettor's Edge then came on again up the inside but Sweet Lou managed to hold on for the decision. Hillbilly Hanover, who raced far better than his 0-for-16 record showed, was a game second, with Bettor's Edge third. Mel Mara, who had a rough trip from post 10, was fourth, with Thinking Out Loud managing to salvage fifth. Meadowlands Pace winner A Rocknroll Dance was seventh.
The 2011 Two-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year, Sweet Lou has had an up-and-down year as a sophomore. The Ron Burke trainee won elims for the major races but then fell short in the finals. The Tattersalls win erases a lot of the disappointment for his connections, including owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Lawrence Karr and Philip Collura.
Sweet Lou won for the eighth time in 15 starts this year, increasing his earnings to $844,126. Overall, the son of North America Cup winner Yankee Cruiser has 18 wins in 27 starts, with earnings of more than $1.5 million.