05/29/2014 10:23PM

Tioga: Sweet Lou has come of age

Derick Giwner
Sweet Lou has been on a tear, winning his last two starts in 1:48 & 1:48 3/5.

In 2011 he was king.

For the last two years Sweet Lou has played a major role racing against the best three-year-olds and then aged horses the sport could put together. Arguably there hasn’t been a class as talented and as well-matched as this group in some time. Yet despite a brilliant juvenile campaign, it has always seemed that Sweet Lou has had to endure some of the most brutal trips any racehorse has seen in some time.

What’s great about the five-year-old is that he has always come back.

In 2014 it appears as if Sweet Lou has regained his vintage form and perhaps outlasted his competition. On Sunday, he’ll attempt to cement the lead roll in the Aged division with a victory in the $160,000 Roll With Joe at Tioga Downs.

“He has been great both times I’ve driven him,” said Ron Pierce on Wednesday.

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“Actually he was even better the second time.”

Pierce has been asked to drive the son of Yankee Cruiser by trainer Ron Burke and has not disappointed. Sweet Lou has captured two legs of the TVG series at the Meadowlands and his last performance, from post 10, was an epic 1:48 effort over a track listed as “good.”

Perhaps the best thing that trainer Burke did for Sweet Lou is to pull him from the George Morton Levy series earlier this year after the horse was again locked in a speed duel and paid dearly for it.

That break in action seems to have energized Sweet Lou and now heading into Sunday, he may finally be able to put himself atop the division as its clear leader.

Last year Sweet Lou was involved in another one of those speed duels in the Roll With Joe. Yannick Gingras drove him and he was parked past the :26 first quarter and then proceeded to cut fractions of :53 2/5 and 1:20 1/5 before giving way in the stretch in a 1:48 1/5 victory by Pet Rock.

Things should be a little different this year as both Pet Rock (retired) and last year’s runner-up Foiled Again are not in the field.

Sweet Lou drew post two in the 10-horse field and faces some quality horses that will need to step up their games a bit to give him an argument.

Bolt The Duer (post four) and Warrawee Needy (post five) hail from the same crop as Sweet Lou but both appear to be losing ground this year. Bolt The Duer has lost by a combined 10 lengths in his last two outings against Sweet Lou. Warrawee Needy, never the most consistent, struggled despite a second-over trip in last week’s TVG at the Meadowlands and finished up the track to Sweet Lou.

“He showed me he can leave in :26 and come home in :26,” said Pierce, who suggested that the others in this field are not likely to want to get into any speed battles with the 2014 Sweet Lou.

Tioga Downs first post on Sunday is 1:30 p.m. for a 13-race program that also features New York Sire Stakes action for three-year-old pacing colts and geldings.

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