09/25/2014 1:17PM

Scioto: Sweet Lou and Foiled Again headline Ewart Memorial Invitational

Derick Giwner
Sweet Lou will look to start a new win streak Saturday at Scioto.

Harness racing’s top pacer this year -- Sweet Lou -- and the sport’s top money-winner of all time -- Foiled Again -- headline Saturday’s $200,000 Jim Ewart Memorial Invitational at Scioto Downs.

Both horses are trained by Ron Burke, who recently topped $20 million in purses for the year. It is the second consecutive season Burke has eclipsed $20 million, following his record-setting $22.2 million campaign in 2013. Burke broke his own record of $19.6 million established in 2012.

Sweet Lou, who is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the field of eight older male pacers, is returning to action for the first time since having his 10-race win streak snapped in the Canadian Pacing Derby on Aug. 30 at Mohawk Racetrack in Ontario.

During his win streak, the 5-year-old Sweet Lou set a record with six consecutive victories in faster than 1:48. His triumphs this year include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, Dan Patch Invitational, and Roll With Joe.

“Horses get beat,” Burke said about Sweet Lou’s setback in the Canadian Pacing Derby, where he finished sixth. “They went at it hard. They were 1:20 1/5 (to three-quarters) and every one of my horses was on his second or third move by the time we hit the top of the lane.”

[DRF HARNESS: Watch Saturday's Ohio Sire Stakes Championship night from Scioto Downs LIVE on DRF!]

Sweet Lou, who is the No. 2-ranked horse in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10, behind only trotter Sebastian K, got to relax a bit following the CPD. He prepped for the Ewart with a 1:52 1/5 qualifier on Sept. 18 at The Meadows.

“I just kind of let him mess around for two weeks and then we put him back on his normal schedule,” Burke said. “He couldn’t have been better. As always, the break does him wonders. He really seems sharp. I’m sure he’s ready to go.”

Sweet Lou has won 10 of 14 races this year and 32 of 69 lifetime, good for $3.05 million in purses. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer. Ron Pierce, who drove Sweet Lou in each of his previous 11 starts, will again be at the lines in the Ewart.

Foiled Again, with lifetime earnings of $6.62 million, is still going strong at age 10. He has won back-to-back starts, including the Bobby Quillen Memorial at Harrington Raceway in Delaware. For the season, he has won six of 19 races and finished among the top three on 15 occasions.

The three-time defending Dan Patch Award winner for best older male pacer, Foiled Again will start the Ewart from post No. 1 with driver Matt Kakaley and is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line.

“Every time he gets beat, people are saying we should retire him,” Burke said. “Then we should retire everybody he beats, too, and there would be about three horses a year left.

“I can’t be happier with him. He’s as good as he’s ever been in his career. He ran into Lou when Lou was on probably as good a streak as any horse had seen, in the last decade at least. There’s no shame there. A lot of horses were having trouble with him.”

The remainder of the Ewart field is Kanaris, Night Pro, Bigtown Hero, Bolt The Duer, Beach Memories, and Domethatagain.

Now that Burke has surpassed $20 million in purses again, he seems likely to soon break the earnings record he established last year. Burke’s earnings have increased every season since taking over the stable fulltime from his father, Mickey, in 2009.

“I really thought (breaking the earnings record) would be the hardest thing for us to do,” Burke said. “But we got off to such a good strong start this year, better than even normal, and that made a lot of difference.

“If everything keeps going like it’s going we should be alright.”

And what fueled the stable’s strong start?

“It’s better horses,” Burke said. “It’s pretty much that simple anymore. Jimmy (Takter) does a great job, I do a great job, I believe, but we also get the best horses. It’s not that hard.”

[DRF HARNESS: Watch top 2- & 3-year-olds in the Bluegrass series on Saturday at The Red Mile - LIVE on DRF!]

J Seinfeld More than 1 year ago
I'd be happy with a dead heat between the two alltime champs.
Jack H More than 1 year ago
Foiled fires out Sweet Lou moves at the qtr pole to the lead. I would hope the cooler weather and the two hole fires the old man up in the pocket. Foiled Again at the wire and I am happy.
radnor87 More than 1 year ago
Like you Jack , I'd love to see Foiled win this . He's an amazing horse and I think will love the cooler weather.