10/06/2012 8:20PM

Red Mile: Sweet Lou shows his mettle in $510k Tattersalls

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Derick Giwner
Sweet Lou and his connections enjoy a winner's circle moment.

It may be hard to believe but it is true. Sweet Lou, a Breeders Crown winner at two and the fastest rookie performer ever, had yet to win a major stakes race as he entered October of his second year of racing. He accumulated seven wins and $638,976 along the way but could not get that elusive big win – until Saturday.

The $510,300 Tattersalls was the race and The Red Mile played host to a sparkling effort by the talented millionaire pacer whose better days may still be in front of him.

Sweet Lou was one of many to leave hard away from the gate in a bulky 12-horse field. When the early dust settled it was a hard-used Simply Business on the engine. He would soon have company, as Bolt The Duer, Bettor’s Edge and eventually Sweet Lou all took their turn making moves to the front through sizzling early fractions of 25 2/5 and 52 4/5.

Once in control Sweet Lou continued the quick pace, hanging a 1:20 three quarter time on the board while preparing to meet his stablemate, Hillbilly Hanover. The stretch battle was fierce, with the pair of Ron Burke trainees nip and tuck through the lane. Was it going to be a bitter-sweet moment with another big event loss for Sweet Lou and a win for Hillbilly Hanover, who was making his first start in the Burke barn?

It was Sweet Lou’s day. He dug in gamely and refused to lose in a sparkling 1:48 1/5.

“I didn’t want him to work that hard,” said driver Dave Palone about the trip. “He went head to head with David’s horse [Miller – Bettor’s Edge], put him away and battled his stablemate. Actually his stablemate was up to me and he fought back and beat him.”

Perhaps few were happier than Burke, who has had his share of people questioning Sweet Lou’s season.

“It’s vindication, because everybody is an expert and everybody has something to say about what we did wrong here or what we did wrong there,” said Burke. “[Winning] is not as easy as everybody thinks. Nobody just lays down for you, ever.”

Burke spent his morning at the Kentucky Horse Park with one of his former stable standouts. Won The West, a winner of nearly $4 million, was retired at the historic site. He will spend his days with fellow standardbred star Mr Muscleman and the great thoroughbred Cigar as his neighbors.

Won The West raced until his 8-year-old season and Burke is looking forward to the future with Sweet Lou as well.

“I love racing aged horses,” said Burke. “That is what we are really known for. And I think people love it, too. You see how people get into the older horses that stay around. ‘West’ had 100 people at his retirement today. It’s cool that people care.”

Sweet Lou, who is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr and Phillip Collura, will head to the Breeders Crown eliminations on October 20 at Woodbine for his next start.  

Close call for Captaintreacherous

Captaintreacherous, who had been cruising to victory after victory against his fellow 2-year-old pacing colts, had to work for a narrow nose-long win over Dedi’s Dragon in a division of the International Stallion Stakes.

Captain brushed to the lead nearing the three-eighths and it looked like it was going to be another easy mile for the son of Somebeachsomewhere after posting a sensible three-quarter time of 1:23 1/5. That is when driver Yannick Gingras popped the pocket with Dedi’s Dragon and gave Captain and driver Tim Tetrick all they could handle.

At the wire a nose separated the pair in 1:50 3/5, with the Captain rising to the occasion.

“Timmy (Tetrick) said he wasn’t quite as responsive when he popped the plugs today,” said trainer Tony Alagna. “He’s so quiet that we might have to get him more excited again. We’ve been working so much on making sure he stayed calm and easy on himself. It might be time to heat him up a little bit for Breeders Crown,” concluded the trainer, who felt we have yet to see the best of his top student.

The win was the seventh in eight career starts for Captaintreacherous.

Also coming up victorious in International Stallion action were Fool Me Once (1:51 3/5), Odds On Equuleus (1:50) and Apprentice Hanover (1:50 3/5).

Glen Garnsey winners for 3-year-old fillies were Romantic Moment (1:50 3/5) and Economy Terror (1:50).