Leaving no doubt as to his current superiority, Sweet Lou powered his way to victory in the first $40,000 elimination Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack in preparation for next week's $634,000 Canadian Pacing Derby.
The first five finishers in each of the two elims qualified for the final, but tonight's result just reaffirmed the status of Sweet Lou as the best older pacer on the continent. Now, he'll just have to prove it again next Saturday.
The elim winners provided their connections with a choice of post positions for the final before the balance of the field was drawn.
With Ron Pierce simply a passenger, Sweet Lou, the prohibitive 1-9 choice, was initially tucked in third as Thinking Out Loud clocked the first quarter in a blistering 25 seconds, before blowing by the leader and taking the field to the half in :53.3.
After opening a couple of lengths on his pursuers while reaching three-quarters in 1:22, Sweet Lou easily prevailed by one length in a stretch drive over the determined veteran Foiled Again, the world's richest pacer, and Domethatagain in 1:48.1. Thinking Out Loud and Captive Audience also qualified for the final.
"He was just on cruise control," said Pierce, who won the 2011 Canadian Pacing Derby with We Will See. "I have no idea (where his bottom is). He just does it so easy. I've never sat behind a horse like this. He'll do anything you want him to do. He's all racehorse. I love his gait, his speed, he's scary fast."
It was his 10th consecutive win of the year on a 2014 resume which includes victories in the Dan Patch at Hoosier Park, U.S. Pacing Championship and Haughton at the Meadowlands and the Franklin at Pocono Downs.
Trained by Ron Burke, Sweet Lou, a five-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future, has banked over $3 million, but has enjoyed more success this year than in past seasons, including his two-year-old campaign in 2011 when he won 10 of 12 starts, capped by the Breeders Crown, and was named divisional champion.
Sweet Lou paid $2.30 and $2.10 (there was no show wagering), combining with Foiled Again ($3.70) for a $7.90 (2-6) exactor. A 2-6-4 triactor was worth $36.60.
Clear Vision, with Brett Miller, nailed stablemate Bettors Edge at the wire to take the second $40,000 elimination Saturday at Mohawk Racetrack.
The top two finishers are trained by Ron Burke, who also conditions the first elim winner, Sweet Lou, who will undoubtedly be favored in the final next Saturday.
Bettors Edge, the even money choice, had things all his own way for all but the final strides, cutting out leisurely fractions of :26.3, :56.2 and 1:24.3. But somehow Clear Vision, who finished second by a nose to A Rocknroll Dance in last year's Canadian Pacing Derby, came flying late from last for the nose win in a three-horse photo, in 1:50.3. State Treasurer finished a neck behind the winner in third.
The elim lost much of its glamour when champion Captaintreacherous was scratched sick by trainer Tony Alagna on Saturday morning. That left just a field of five, all of whom thus qualified for the final.
"With a five-horse field, I kind of assumed it would be slow fractions," said Miller. "But honestly, Clear Vision, that's his strong suit. If you can sit in with him and really rate him, he can fly home. And he showed it tonight.
"I didn't see the three-quarter time. I knew we weren't going real fast, but as close as I was to the leader, I still was pretty confident because this horse kicks home very fast. Obviously, he's going into the final very sharp. Hopefully the trip works out."
It was only the fourth win in 19 starts this year for the eight-year-old gelded son of Western Hanover, but by doing so, he went over the $2 million mark in career earnings with his 27th lifetime victory.
Clear Vision returned $10.30 and $3.50 (there was no show wagering), teaming with Bettors Edge ($2.70) for a $25.40 (6-2) exactor. A 6-2-3 (State Treasurer) triactor paid $59.40.
Following the eliminations, the post positions were drawn for next week's $634,000 final. Elim winners were able to select their post for the final.
1. Modern Legend – David Miller
2. Clear Vision – Brett Miller
3. Sweet Lou – Ron Pierce
4. Domethatagain – Tim Tetrick
5. Captive Audience – James MacDonald
6. State Treasurer – Chris Christoforou
7. Foiled Again – Yannick Gingras
8. Bettors Edge – Matt Kakaley
9. Thinking Out Loud – John Campbell
10. Ellis Park – Steve Condren
AE: Sunshine Beach – Chris Christoforou