07/11/2012 7:30AM

Harness: Sweet Lou one of many rooting interests for owner Weaver


Sweet Lou, the likely favorite for Saturday’s $600,000 Meadowlands Pace, is just a small part of the racing operation of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi. The duo, who own 30 percent of the standout three-year-old, share ownership in 200 pacers and trotters. While the focus of the racing world will be on the Meadowlands on Saturday, owner Weaver isn’t even certain he’ll be in New Jersey on Saturday.

“On a Saturday I could have anywhere between 10 and 40 racing at tracks throughout North America. I don’t travel that often,” said Weaver who’s based in the Pittsburgh area.

Weaver, 40, grew up in Southern California and cut his teeth on the racing game attending Los Alamitos Racecourse to watch and occasionally have others wager for him on Quarter Horses and Standardbreds. “I was 14 and loved going to the races,” said Weaver.

Eventually he migrated to the East Coast and found The Meadows to his liking. “I wouldn’t say I was a professional gambler,” Weaver said, “I had jobs but I liked the races.”

When the landscape changed in Pennsylvania and slot machines came to The Meadows and other tracks, Weaver thought the time was ripe to get into racing from an owner's side. He began an association with trainer Ron Burke in 2003-04. That relationship has grown as the stable size has expanded.

Weaver thinks the pair has peaked. “Friends keep asking me how many more horses do you need,” said Weaver. “I think this is about the maximum. You need to have places to enter and race the horses and I think this is as far as we can go.”

The Weaver-Bruscemi LLC began when the two met at a fantasy football draft. “Mike likes the horses,” said Weaver. The two are 50-50 partners, but Weaver admits that most of the horseracing decisions go through him and Burke.

Much of Weaver’s days revolve around horses. “I get four to five calls each day from horse agents,” said Weaver. The owner also pays attention to the races from a gambling perspective as well. “To tell you the truth I bet more on Thoroughbreds than on Standardbreds. With the rules as they are I can only bet on my horses. That causes conflicts when they are in pick fours and I want to cover other horses. I don’t want to do anything that would threaten my harness license,” Weaver said.

Clearly Weaver’s opinion as a gambler has helped him greatly in assessing potential purchases, or for that matter selling horses that don’t perform up to speed.

As a race fan Weaver wants to be close to his stable and finds modern technology a blessing. “It’s great that I can watch the races on my phone,” he said. Often Weaver’s horses can be racing simultaneously at various tracks.

As for Sweet Lou, the owner is hopeful that the colt will be at his best on Saturday, but much like driver Dave Palone, he’s not certain the son of Yankee Cruiser was at his best in the elimination. “I don’t know if it was missing three weeks, but he didn’t race his race,” said Weaver.

The owners of Sweet Lou decided on post four for the final looking for an off-the-pace trip. “He definitely races better off cover,” said Weaver who said the plan for the elimination was to race the horse from off the pace, but it didn’t play out that way.

Not surprisingly Weaver isn’t consumed by winning the Meadowlands Pace. “The race I really want to win is the Adios,” Weaver said. It’s the signature three-year-old race at The Meadows, a track Weaver calls home. “We’ve finished second, third, fourth and fifth in the Adios. A win would complete the quintella,” said Weaver.

Weaver and Bruscemi have been associated with some greats. Foiled Again has been one of their best investments. The defending Pacer of the Year is approaching $4 million in earnings a majority of that for the current ownership. But not all of the purchases work out that well.

“Myluvmylife hasn’t worked out as well,” said Weaver. The partnership paid $375,000 last year for the three-year-old filly pacer with expectations of late season success.

Fortunately for Weaver-Bruscemi LLC, a majority of their business decisions have been profitable. Win or lose on Saturday with Sweet Lou the pair will have plenty of other horses to root for.