06/17/2016 11:23AM

Tioga: Ron Burke sends out tough quartet in Roll With Joe

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Mike Lizzi
All Bets Off leads the four horse entry from trainer Ron Burke in Sunday's Roll With Joe.

Trainer Ron Burke entered four of his aged pacers in Sunday’s Roll With Joe at Tioga and even he was surprised how light the entry box was.

“I don’t know where everyone else went,” Burke said. “I had two others that I could have entered.”

With 24 horses nominated to the event and 10 allowed in the final, Burke may have been pushing it to enter four. But at the same time, when horses the caliber of Always B Miki, In The Arsenal, Luck Be Withyou and J K Endofanera don’t show up, it certainly leaves the door wide open.

[TIOGA: Watch the Roll With Joe and entire Tioga card--Live on DRF Sunday!]

The result is that only seven will go this Sunday at Tioga and Burke is not only holding most of the cards but he has the likely favorite in All Bets Off. The son of Bettors Delight was due for some luck after drawing three straight “8” holes and he found it in the Roll With Joe, drawing the pole position for regular pilot Matt Kakaley.

“He’s a very handy horse and can race any way you want to,” said Burke of All Bets Off. “He’s probably made the quietest $2 million of any horse.”

All Bets Off hasn’t reached that plateau as of yet, but he’s in line to get much closer with the lion’s share of the $179,000 purse.

The 5-year-old has had to play the bridesmaid role through much of the season, but that hasn’t hurt his bank account, having garnered nearly $300K in 2016 in just 11 starts. Considering his bad luck with the draw, he managed a solid second-place finish to Wiggle It Jiggleit in the Battle of Lake Erie at Northfield on May 21. He followed that up with a hopeless trip in the Molson. Despite starting from post eight in the second tier in this one, he got caught in traffic and was wiped out of contention on the third turn. Nevertheless he rallied brilliantly to earn a fourth-place check.

On Sunday, All Bets Off will have three entrymates, with Take It Back Terry (post 3), Limelight Beach (post 5) and Always At My Place (post 6) supporting the betting entry.

Of the three non-Burke horses in the Roll With Joe, trainer Steve Elliott is responsible for two. Rockeyed Optimist prepped for the event by capturing an Open pace last Sunday at Tioga. The son of Rocknroll Hanover has captured eight of 13 starts this season. Brett Miller has the driving assignment from post two.

Elliott scratched McWicked from Saturday’s Mohawk Gold Cup to enter the Roll With Joe, but was unable to improve on the luck of the draw. McWicked landed post seven making his fourth start of the year. The 5-year-old son of McArdle has not won a race since his 3-year-old campaign in 2014, but he finished a solid third behind Mel Mara and Always B Miki in his most recent outing, the 1:47 mile at The Meadowlands.

Rounding out the group is State Treasurer. This brilliant son of Real Desire has also managed to go winless this year after a vintage campaign in 2015. Trainer Dr. Ian Moore has sent the 7-year-old to post on six occasions this year and has earned just $16,395, a far cry from the more than $865,000 he earned last year. David Miller is listed to reunite with State Treasurer from post four.

Last year State Treasurer captured the Roll With Joe for Miller in 1:47 2/5 in a field of but six horses. State Treasurer is the lone returnee from the field with third-place finisher Foiled Again not entering.

“He’s going to race at Scioto against lesser company,” said Burke of Foiled Again, who he believes just needs a bit more time to regain his winning form.

Burke’s Sweet Lou captured the Roll With Joe in 2014.

Tioga Downs offers 11 races on Sunday afternoon with a first post scheduled at 1:30 p.m.