05/20/2012 12:33PM

Harness: Leading 3-year-old pacers Sweet Lou, A Rocknroll Dance deliver

Lisa Photo
A Rocknroll Dance, driven by Yannick Gingras, wins in 1:50 1/5 in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands.

Saturday was essentially opening night for the elite 3-year-old pacers in North America. The two leading colts stepped into sire stakes action in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and didn’t disappoint. Meanwhile,  two of the leading pacing fillies came up with encouraging bridesmaids’ tales in separate divisions of sire stakes action in New York.

Last year’s impressive Breeders Crown champion Sweet Lou looked every bit as sharp in his first stakes spot of the year at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs. With Dave Palone in the bike, Sweet Lou  patiently waited off the early action and then rolled to the front as the field completed the first three-eighths of a mile. From that point it was smooth sailing as the world champion effortlessly drew clear, posting a 1:49 3/5 mile clocking. It was a nice first payday for the colt in capturing one of three sire stakes divisions worth $106,113

At New Meadowlands,  A Rocknroll Dance was also quite patiently handled by Yannick Gingras. A Rocknroll Dance waited until halfway through the mile to get into gear but once allowed to pace he effortlessly overpowered front-stepping Ideal Champ and breezed to victory in a 1:50 1/5 mile time. A Rocknroll Dance captured a $17,000 preliminary leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes.

I Fought Dalaw returned with a vengeance for trainer-owner Sam DePinto in a $17,500 New Jersey Sire Stakes division. With Dave Miller aboard  I Fought Dalaw made two solid moves and was able to overpower Mortal Zin in a 1:50 2/5 mile while racing without cover the final half. Last year’s Metro champ Simply Business finished third in that mile while never threatening the top pair in his season’s debut.

At Vernon Downs,  leading pilot Tim Tetrick made a rare appearance but that was because he was slated to drive 1-10 favorites American Jewel and Handsoffmycookie in separate divisions in the first leg of New York Sire Stakes action for 3-year-old  pacing fillies. American Jewel was saddled with post 9  but Tetrick left the gate well enough to find a tuck in fourth before the field hit the first turn. In the meantime,  Jeff Gregory, behind Major Look, went right to the front and the Art Major-sired filly never looked back. Major Look shocked the favorite and most likely the entire racing world, posting a career-best 1:50 mile with American Jewel a respectable, yet well-beaten second. Coincidentally,  the two fillies met a week earlier in qualifying action at the Meadowlands and American Jewel won that practice mile.

“I’d heard rumors that she was a nice filly,” said Gregory, who admitted that close friend Andy Miller, who drove Major Look in her qualifier,  clued him in on her talent. “She’s a big filly and they did a good job with her.”

Robert Riddle trains Major Look,  who was sent off at 14-1..

Tetrick had some road problems with Handsoffmycookie and was unable to shake free until mid-stretch. By that time JK Fine Art had already gotten the fractions she needed and was able to seal a neck win in 1:52 4/5. Jim Morrill Jr. piloted the winner for trainer Linda Toscano.

The anticipated 3-year-old debut of O’Brien award winner Warrawee Needy in an elimination of the Upper Canada Cup at Georgian Downs never took place as the E Dees Cam-sired 3-year-old  was scratched due to sickness by trainer Carl Jamieson. Mel Mara, second in the Simpson at the Meadowlands in his most recent outing, captured the fastest of the three elimination heats for driver Luc Ouellette. Mel Mara scored in a career-best 1:49 4/5 mile. Unfortunately, posts were drawn for the $600,000 final scheduled for this Saturday and Mel Mara landed post 8.

Top aged pacers were in action at Western Fair on Friday and Aracache Hanover and driver Doug McNair used the rail to good advantage winning one of two $20,000 eliminations for the $300,000 Molson Pace this Friday. Aracache Hanover  went wire to wire in a stellar 1:51 clocking holding off defending champion Foiled Again in the process. It was another huge mile for Foiled Again, who showed quickness out of the gate and then raw grit attacking without cover over the tight half-mile track. Foiled Again’s stablemate Clear Vision captured the other Molson division for John Campbell, overtaking Levy winner Atochia in the final strides.

This Friday’s final draw was held and Foiled Again landed post 6 inside of Aracache Hanover, who starts from post 7.

Last year’s 3-year-old  Breeders Crown champion Betterthancheddar made a triumphant return to the races on Saturday winning an overnight event at Georgian Downs in 1:49 1/5 for trainer Casie Coleman.