Thursday, May 22, 2014


Sweet Lou returned to The Meadowlands in style in the first round of the TVG Free For All Championship series with a dominant and compelling performance on May 10th, sailing around the East Rutherford oval in 1:48.3. Among those left in his wake was his stable-mate and the richest pacer in history, Foiled Again.

“(Sweet Lou) was super last week. That mile was as good as I have seen him since he was two,” was the reaction from trainer Ron Burke. “We tried him at Yonkers, but it didn’t seem to suit him, but all his efforts on the bigger tracks this year have been excellent.” He will be driven by Ron Pierce once again.

Sweet Lou (post 10) leads a three-pronged Ron Burke attack in the second $50,000 TVG Free For All Championship leg Saturday night at The Meadowlands. Joining him this round are stable-mates Clear Vision (post 1) and Bettor’s Edge (post 9).

While conspicuous by his absence, Burke explained why Foiled Again is qualifying this week and not entered in the TVG FFA event. “Each leg I want to race three out of the four I have in there. This week Foiled gets the night off."

Clear Vision, who just missed to Dancin Yanee in a world record mile of 1:47.2 at Pocono last week is having an excellent campaign thus far for Burke and will be driven by Matt Kakaley. “He has been awesome this year,” Burke added. “He’ll be a factor in there.”

The last of the trio is Bettor’s Edge, piloted by Joe Bongiorno, who despite his last two race lines, has been better than one may think. “He had no chance last week the way the race shaped up, but he was super,” said Burke. “The key with him is getting him into the race and if he gets a trip, he’ll be right there.”

The Burke entry has been installed as the 8/5 morning-line favorite for this week’s $50,000 TVG Free For All leg.

Warrawee Needy (post 3) will begin as the second choice, sporting a 3-1 morning line with Tim Tetrick at the lines once again. Warrawee Needy came up a neck short to Allstar Legend in the $30,000 Free For All Handicap last week at The Meadowlands after setting a blistering pace, getting to three-quarters in 1:19.4.

Bolt The Duer made a favorable impression in his 2014 debut, finishing a solid third behind Sweet Lou and Foiled Again. “He was really good,” said his regular driver Mark MacDonald. “He acted like he needed that start. He was racing against horses that had all been racing quite a bit already this year. I really think he is ready to step up and have a very big year.” Bolt The Duer will start from post 2 and is 4-1 on the morning line.

The remainder of this week’s TVG FFA leg consists of Thinking Out Loud, Modern Legend, Word Power, Golden Receiver and Dovuto Hanover. Total earnings for the field of 10 is over $12.5 Million. This $50,000 TVG FFA leg will go postward as race six on a 13-race program that also features the second leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three year old colt and filly pacers. Post time is 7:15 P.M.

Written by Darin Zoccali of Harness Racing Update

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sebastian K Sets Stakes Record in The Cutler

Swedish champion Sebastian K added to his lore with another convincing win, this one the $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial Final at The Meadowlands Saturday night in 1:50.2.

The Cutler was the first major test of the season for the Free For All trotters, promising a battle royale between last week’s elimination winners Sebastian K and Market Share and record speed possibilities that went awry when Market Share made an uncharacteristic break in the first turn.

As the race began Modern Family was put into play early by David Miller, using his keen gate speed to clear to the front before the turn with Sebastian K protecting the rail for Ake Svanstedt and securing the pocket through the 27.1 opener.

With Market Share out of contention, there was little movement as the field passed the half in :55.2. Approaching the final bend Sebastian K was flushed out trotting alongside Modern Family and they raced as a team past the 1:22.4 three quarters, by mid-stretch he was edging by that rival on his way to a length and a half win in a stakes record 1:50.2.

Modern Family held well to be second while Sevruga followed up close throughout and was third. Market Share’s break seemed to have his disappointed camp puzzled post-race.

The winner is a majestic specimen who again raced sans shoes as he had done in his record elimination win a week ago. He is raced by Swedish interests, trained by his driver Ake Svanstedt and owned by Knutsson Trotting.

“He’s just awesome, added owner Michael Knutsson. “ It’s fantastic – and our first time here at The Meadowlands and it starts like this. It’s absolutely amazing.

“We talked (after the 1:50.1 elimination win) and we all could see, I think, that he had more in him. He had a shot at it (the world record) today. It didn’t work out, but the time today is tremendous also. I mean fantastic.

“I’m not sure he has actually (ever been better). I think he’s in superb form right now.”

Immediate plans for the winner include a few weeks off before returning for a leg of the TVG Free For All series on June 13.

Yannick Gingras was the driving star of the night, winning 7 of the 14 races contested, including the $30,000 Free For All Handicap Pace with Allstar Legend in a lifetime best effort of 1:48 for Ron Burke and owners Brittany Farms and John Cherveny.

Total Handle on the 14-race program was $3,399,248, a 10-percent increase over the previous year. Additionally, on-track handle yielded a 26-percent increase.

Written by Darin Zoccali of Harness Racing Update

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sebastian K World Record at The Meadowlands

There really is nothing quite like the Championship Meet here at The Meadowlands when the top horses start to show up for the stakes and tonight’s card was the stage for some of harness racing best.

Swedish champion Sebastian K made his debut on American soil in the $40,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial eliminations for his expatriate trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt tonight at The Meadowlands and the result was a devastating world and track record 1:50.1.

The mile also equaled the fastest trotting mile ever on the mile track and was accomplished with remarkable ease.

Prepped with a single qualifier after being away from racing for eight months, Sebastian K got away third for Svanstedt through the early fractions of 26.4 and 55.1 then was edged out to challenge early leader Modern Family around the final turn.

As they straightened up, Sebastian K forged past that one and moved clear with nary a nudge from his driver to reduce the former record of 1:51- set by Misterizi back in 2008.

Modern Family held well for the place while Intimidate actually closed into that mile nicely for third. Archangel and DW’s NY Yank finished fourth and fifth respectively to advance to next week’s $175,000 final.

Ake Svanstedt left his native Sweden to begin operations in the US and brought his stable star along to take on the best western trotting has to offer. He has stated his belief that Sebastian K can be the first trotter to break the 1:50 barrier on the mile track and tonight’s effort indicate that he may very well be right. The owners are known as Knutsson Trotting, Inc. using a Vero Beach, FL address.

Sebastian K projects an imposing presence on the racetrack with a very pure gait. So pure, in fact, that assistant trainer Bernie Noren tweeted post-race that he raced without shoes in the record effort.

Market Share won the second elimination in a career best equaling and what a few hours earlier would have been a world and track record 1:50.3. Settled in fourth early by Tim Tetrick, Market Share wound up third over, fanning off the cover of Arch Madness and edging past that rival in the shadow of the wire to win by a length. It was the first start of Market Share’s season after a pair of useful qualifiers.

Undercover Strike rallied from well back to take third with Sevruga and Possessed Fashion occupying the other two positions in next week’s final.

Trainer Linda Toscano and owners Richard Gutnick, TLP Stable and Bill Augustine must now grapple with the decision of whether to send their stable star to Sweden for the Elitlopp or remain home for next week’s $175,000 Cutler final and beyond. The decision is imminent.

Also on the card was the first TVG Free For All Championship Open Pace of the season for a purse of $50,000 which drew a strong ten horse field of fast horses.

The fastest on this night was clearly Sweet Lou who easily defeated this accomplished group by open lengths in an eased-up 1:48.3.

Ron Pierce had the call for trainer Ronnie Burke and noted in a post-race interview that it was his first time behind the winner of over $2 million, they paired up very nicely. After settling in behind Bolt The Duer through the 26.2 opener,

Pierce tipped Sweet Lou back around to the front and that, for all intents and purposes, was that. He widened to a clear lead into the stretch and the 26 flat final quarter made him a three plus length winner. Stable mate Foiled Again was second after an overland, uncovered trip which he endured nobly to save the place and Bolt The Duer held for third.

Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Carr and Phil Collura share ownership of the winner.

On the driving front, Tim Tetrick won four races on the night, while Yannick Gingras took home three.

Racing resumes on Friday, with first post time at 7:15 P.M. That card features the New Jersey Sire Stakes for the three year old colt and filly trotters. The Saturday program centers around the $175,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial Final and Roosevelt Raceway legacy night.

Written by Darin Zoccali of Harness Racing Update

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