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Lincolnjames working way to Meadows Preferred

August 02, 2018
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When the Four Seasons released their hit Working My Way Back To You, they probably didn't have Lincolnjames in mind--that was 1966, after all. Yet the 7-year-old Northwest-Winbak Lucy gelding might be using that song for inspiration as he tries to work his way back to the Preferred Pace at The Meadows, a class he once dominated.
 
Lincolnjames has put together a modest two-race winning streak and will try to take that next step back to the top in Saturday's feature at The Meadows, a $13,000 conditioned pace in race six. Lincolnjames goes from post eight with Dave Palone driving.
 
Saturday's card features a number of compelling wagering opportunities, including a pair of rich total-pool guarantees -- $7,500 for the Pick-4 (races four-seven), $5,000 for the Pick-5 (races nine-13) -- and a $6,364.20 jackpot in the Super Hi-5 (race 13). The special post time of 12 noon will allow The Meadows to coordinate its live races with its simulcast of the Hambletonian Day program from The Meadowlands.
 
In 2017, Lincolnjames won the Preferred, Preferred Handicap or Winners Over pace nine times at The Meadows, a major contribution to his $356,491 lifetime bankroll. This year, he lost his first 13 starts in those races, prompting trainer Ron Burke to demote him to conditioned events and shift Windsong Leo from Yonkers to The Meadows. Windsong Leo stepped up to his role, winning the track's top pace twice, but he likely won't stay here long.
 
"I've had too many horses at Yonkers that all fit the same class, so I brought Leo here for a couple weeks," Burke says. "He'll go back to Yonkers."

Meanwhile, Lincolnjames also responded well, winning his two conditioned events; if he triumphs Saturday, he'll likely earn a ticket to the Preferred. Burke can't point to any injury that's held him back.

"I'm more inclined to think the competition is getting tougher," he says. "Look at this race today--he'll face Dapper Dude and Knocking Around, who race in the Preferred most of the time."

Post eight may not be the best vehicle for the final step in his comeback, but Burke thinks Lincolnjames still can slug it out on the front under the right circumstances.

"He likes the front end better, but he has to get his fractions," Burke says. "I don't know if he'd like getting strung out in :26."

Burke's interest in Saturday's card also will be piqued by the debut of Covenant, his Sweet Lou-Monkeys Can Sing freshman pacer. Monkeys Can Sing had a brief, undistinguished racing career, but her family sparkles with stars. Her dam, Cathedra, banked $733,789 on the track and, as a broodmare, produced a pair of millionaires: Cathedra Dot Com and Cabrini Hanover. Perhaps that's why Covenant's owners--Burke Racing Stable, Hatfield Stables, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi--put up $130,000 for him at auction.

"He's the best-looking ‘Lou' we have; he could be ‘Lou's' twin," Burke says. ‘He's been a disappointment this year. He doesn't seem to pick things up very fast, but if you keep asking him to improve, he does. He's supposed to be better than he has been. I keep telling him that, but he doesn't understand. As long as he keeps improving, we'll keep giving him chances."

Covenant leaves from the rail in race two with Mike Wilder in the sulky. (The Meadows)

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