05/05/2017 6:50PM

Meadowlands: Burke brigade out in full force for Saturday stakes

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You could say much was expected of Crazy Wow last year. One of 2015’s better sophomore trotters, Crazy Wow embarked on his 4-year-old campaign that netted but one victory in 14 tries. The now-5-year-old makes his 2017 stakes debut on Saturday night and trainer Ron Burke thinks we’ll see a better version in the $200,000 Arthur Cutler Memorial at The Meadowlands.

“I look at him the same way I look at Lou,” said Burke, referring to the disappointing year that Sweet Lou had at age 4 and his rise to greatness one year later. “We just couldn’t get him to race that well until the end of the year,” said Burke of Crazy Wow.

But by the tail end of 2016, Crazy Wow was sharper and more the horse that Burke had expected, finishing second by a scant nose in the $400K TVG Final.

“I wish I had a place to race him at that point,” said Burke, “But I’m very happy with the way he’s come back this year and I think he could have a big year.”

Crazy Wow made his seasonal debut in an overnight race at The Meadowlands on April 21 and finished a solid pacesetting second in a 1:52 1/5 mile. That tightener should have him ready for a big effort on Saturday, where he’ll have company in the form of 11 rivals and an additional eighth of a mile to cover in the added distance Cutler.

For Burke, there are two others in the field of a dozen he represents in the form of Rose Run Parker (post 8) and Gural Hanover (post 9). “I think the post positions for those two are going to make it difficult,” Burke said, conceding that his stable has been somewhat hampered by the lack of racing opportunity.

“I just can’t get all of my horses raced and I think some have suffered because of it. With racetracks closed in the winter I can understand,” Burke said, “But it’s tougher for me when tracks like Pocono, Harrah’s and The Meadowlands don’t regularly card Open races.”

Crazy Wow from post six will give Burke a horse with speed to get involved in the race, but the field is solid competitively. Directly to Crazy Wow’s inside is Resolve making his 2017 debut for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. The 6-year-old by Muscle Hill was solid in his qualifier last Saturday scoring in 1:54 2/5. Resolve hails from a stable known to have its horses sharp and ready on first asking.

Trainer Ben Baillargeon couldn’t be all that amused with the post draw for Musical Rhythm in the Cutler. The Ontario-based Musical Rhythm drew post 10 on the outside in the field. For Baillargeon, there must be hope that this could be déjà vu all over again since his horse won from post ten in last year’s $250K Graduate Final at The Meadowlands. Musical Rhythm won 12 of his 21 starts a year ago and had a solid second-place finish in his prep at Mohawk on April 24.

JL Cruze had a sensational year in 2015 but saw his ranking slip a bit last year with just $231k banked on the season. Trainer Eric Ell appears to have him ready early this year as evidenced by a solid effort in last week’s Meadowlands Open where he was in a three-horse photo in a 1:51 3/5 mile.

Hall of Famer John Campbell will guide Muscle Diamond from post 12 in the second tier and the 5-year-old should have the experience necessary having already raced 10 times in 2017. The impeccably bred son of Muscle Hill and champion Windylane Hanover missed almost his entire 4-year-old campaign and has been regaining stakes form.

Trainer Burke is happy with his two horses in the split Graduate Series for 4-year-old pacers on the Meadowlands undercard.

“I love him,” said Burke of Roll Away Joe, a gelding that took a career best 1:50 2/5 victory in his last start. “He’s legit.”

As for Check Six, his $1.1 million career winner that landed post seven in the tougher of the two divisions, Burke was happy with his debut. “It’s going to come down to a sprint and Jimmy (Takter) has his horses sharp at the start,” said Burke, accepting Check Six’s narrow defeat in a credible 1:51 debut.

Post time for the 11-race card at The Meadowlands Saturday is 7:15 p.m.