12/04/2014 3:41PM

Dover: All Bets Off looks for Progress Pace upset

Geri Schwarz
All Bets Off would go over $1 million in earnings this year with a Progress Pace win.

Driver Matt Kakaley is having a very strong year. One of the biggest reasons for his success this year is his association with trainer Ron Burke. Burke sends out three of the six horses entered in Sunday’s $301,560 Progress Pace at Dover Downs with Kakaley steering Messenger Stakes winner All Bets Off.

While All Bets Off has been the King of New York, adding the New York Sire Stakes final to a list of accomplishments, thus far he’s struck out in two starts in Delaware. The most stinging loss came in the $186,550 Matron Stakes on November 6, a race that Kakaley would like to forget.

“I tried to take up when Yannick (Gingras) moved and I choked him (cut off his air),” said Kakaley of the eighth-place finish in the stakes event.

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All Bets Off was the 3-5 favorite in the Matron starting from the rail and got away strongly in a 25 3/5 opening quarter over a track rated as “good.”

After yielding the lead, All Bets Off was hard to wrestle back despite the field reaching the half in 52 4/5. When Kakaley pulled him to the outside before the half, All Bets Off didn’t respond.

Prior to the Matron, All Bets Off put in an amazing effort in the $500,000 Messenger on October 25 at Yonkers Raceway. The son of Bettors Delight went wire-to-wire from post six in a 1:51 1/5 mile and was flawless to the finish.

“That was the best race he’s gone this year,” said Kakaley, who will guide the colt from post six on Sunday.

With 11 wins in 17 starts this year and earnings of $911,425, All Bets Off has been a model of consistency for the Burke stable.

Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Frank Baldachino, The Panhellenic Stable and Rosemary Shelswell, All Bets Off also captured the $400,000 Milstein at Northfield Park in August.

Last week All Bets Off raced from off the pace for Kakaley and finished in a manner that suggested he’ll be ready for the final.

“He raced really well,” said Kakaley, “With the time off he needed that start and I expect him to be better on Sunday.”

The outside post in the six-horse field may not post a problem for the quick-leaving colt, but there’s a good chance others in the field will also seek the front end. Burke does have an advantage, with Matron upsetter Big Boy Dreams manning the pole position for driver Ron Pierce and North America Cup champion J K Endofanera starting from post two with Yannick Gingras aboard.

In last Sunday’s $35,000 Progress Preview, McWicked followed up his commanding score in the Breeders Crown with a 1:48 4/5 winning effort for trainer Casie Coleman. The son of McArdle could go a long way towards locking up the Dan Patch award with a victory, but he’ll have to earn it from post four with David Miller in the bike. McWicked has 11 wins in 22 starts this year and has only missed the board twice.

“You can’t let a horse get to the lead easily before the half at Dover,” said Ron Burke, trainer of three horses in the field. Burke was referring to the Preview where J K Endofanera and Gingras let Miller cross to the front before the halfway point and cruise to victory. Burke seemed to indicate that he wouldn’t expect to see that in the final.

“I think it’s tough to come from behind at Dover and I would expect my own horses to park each other in order to protect the lead,” said Burke.

The trainer believes all of his horses are fresh and ready for the final.

“We have a good record of doing well at the end of the long season,” said Burke, who plans on shipping both Big Boy Dreams and All Bets Off to Northfield for Friday’s Cleveland Classic on December 12.

Driver Kakaley indicated that he’s going to be a nightly regular at Yonkers Raceway from this point forward. “If Ron (Burke) needs me to travel I will,” said Kakaley. The driver expects to stay at Yonkers until Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs re-opens in the spring.

The Progress Pace is race 10 of 15 on Sunday at Dover Downs with a first post slated for 5:30 p.m.