Palone: "We're going to go down swinging"
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Despite finishing fifth with Sweet Lou in the $600,000 Meadowlands Pace last Saturday night, driver Dave Palone said his expectations have never been higher for the colt who will start in the first of two eliminations of the $600,000 Del Miller Adios Pace Saturday at his home track of The Meadows.
"I'm going into the Adios with a good spot (post four),” Palone told harnessracing.com Friday morning. "He loves this racetrack; this is our spot. I know he's going to be great Saturday. This is our big race and we're going to go down swinging.
"And I'm only more confident in him after the Pace. He was pacing the fastest at the wire.”
Palone got away sixth with Sweet Lou as the second choice in the wagering in the Meadowlands Pace but when no outer flow developed, that left him with too far to come to challenge as A Rocknroll Dance and driver Yannick Gingras controlled the tempo on the front end. Still, Sweet Lou paced his last quarter in :26 to close within 2 ½ lengths of the 1:48.3-winning A Rocknroll Dance at the wire.
"We decided to take a straight tuck and for once the Meadowlands Pace was a race with no flow,” Palone explained of his Pace strategy. "I knew I was in trouble coming out of the first turn. I was waiting on Timmy (Tetrick, with Heston Blue Chip), and Timmy was waiting on Brian (Sears, with Pet Rock), and Brian was waiting on Randy (Waples, with Thinking Out Loud). It was one of those deals where the flow never got started so I never got drug into the race.
"Don't knock the horse; knock our strategy to race from the back because it didn't work out. The horse actually raced great; he paced home in :26 flat after getting shuffled back to eighth or ninth in the last turn. It was a chess match and we made the wrong move. But we had decided the strategy because he had never been beat when we raced him that way. But we thought there'd be more flow and faster fractions. Everybody kind of outthought each other.”
Sweet Lou has made six pari-mutuel starts over his career at The Meadows and has never lost. Add in four qualifying victories and the Ron Burke-trained son of Yankee Cruiser is a perfect 10-for-10 on the five-eighths mile oval.
A win in his Adios elim won't be easy as the colt drew in against the likes of A Rocknroll Dance, North America Cup winner Thinking Out Loud, and Meadowlands Pace consolation winner Hurrikane Kingcole. The top four finishers in each elim return for the July 28 final. Palone said with the colt owned in part by the locally-based Burke Stable and Pennsylvanians Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi, nothing would be sweeter than an Adios final win.
"Of course you want to win the Jug, you want to win the North America Cup, you want to win the Meadowlands Pace, you want to win them all,” said Palone. "But it will be an insane winner's circle if we happen to pull it off here.”