It often takes time to evaluate the impact of new sires, but on Saturday at The Meadows, fans will get a good early read on the first crop of Sweet Lou. Of the 24 freshman filly pacers entered in the $182,962 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes known as the Sand Tart, 10 are daughters of Sweet Lou.
The stake also will provide a glimpse at the progeny of another highly regarded new stallion, Captaintreacherous, who will be represented by three fillies. The Sand Tart goes as races 2, 3 and 4, with first post at 1:05 p.m.
At two, Sweet Lou won the Dan Patch Award for his division and set a freshman mile-track record of 1:49, a mark that still stands. After slumping a bit at three, he roared back to become one of harness racing's top older performers and was named Pacer of the Year in 2014. Over the course of a 10-race winning streak, he recorded six consecutive sub-1:48 miles. He retired with earnings of nearly $3.5 million and currently is a dual-hemisphere stallion, standing at Diamond Creek Farm in Pennsylvania and Woodlands Stud in New Zealand.
Ron Burke trained Sweet Lou throughout his career, so it may be natural that Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and their partners have loaded up on Sweet Lous. Burke has a total of 17 Sweet Lou babies, including seven of the 10 racing Saturday.
"All the fillies made it," Burke reports, "except for one I got a little later who fell behind."
Burke Racing Stable and its partners retain majority interest in Sweet Lou and so are entitled to a number of breedings annually. To maximize that opportunity, they needed more broodmares.
"We took on some mares," Burke says. "We also bred some of the mares who were retiring that normally would have been sold."
They also purchased a number of promising Sweet Lou yearlings at auction. Considering all the costs, Burke figures that his partnerships already have invested about $1 million in Sweet Lou's stallion career.
"We wanted to give him a big chance," Burke says. "There's even more support in his next two crops. He's destined to be a top sire."
He says the emerging rivalry between Sweet Lou and Captain Treacherous will be "interesting."
"They both entered stud in the same state at the same time. Both will make top stallions and fill the gap left by the death of Somebeachsomewhere."
Of his fillies competing Saturday, Burke rates Warrawee Ubeaut and Sylph Hanover (by Somebeachsomewhere) as the most advanced. Here's Saturday's Sweet Lou line-up, with post positions, trainers and drivers:
4. She's Allright (Burke/Gingras)
6. Sweet Chrome (Burke/Kakaley)
3. Louphoria (Burke/Gingras)
5. Janet Hanover (Burke/Wrenn, Jr.)
6. Pace Baby Pace (Burke/Kakaley)
8. Sweet Cherry (Jim King, Jr./Tim Tetrick)
2. Warrawee Ubeaut (Burke/Gingras)
3. Hip To My Lou (Burke/Wrenn, Jr.)
4. Tee's Sweet Pride (Candy O'Brien/Wilder)
8. Sweeter Lulu (Chiodo/Chiodo)