06/01/2014 5:05PM

Tioga: Sweet Lou rolls to stake victory

Fred Brown
Sweet Lou has won three straight races in under 1:49.

Sweet Lou came into the $160,000 Roll With Joe Open Pace at Tioga Downs on Sunday as the horse to beat. Following his 1:48 3/5 winning performance, he may have stamped himself as the top older pacer currently racing.

Despite many horses flashing early speed off the gate, driver Ron Pierce was assertive with Sweet Lou and quickly brushed the Ron Burke trainee to the front at the quarter in 26 2/5. Perhaps sensing the vulnerability of the competition, Pierce never took his foot off the gas pedal while clicking off a half in 53 4/5 and three-quarters in a snappy 1:20 2/5. Bolt The Duer was having trouble keeping pace from the pocket and fellow Burke entrymate Clear Vision was stalling the outer flow with an almost non-existent first-over attempt.

Although his four length stretch lead would evaporate to a mere 1 3/4 at the wire, Sweet Lou successfully bottomed out the field for this third straight stakes score. Heston Blue Chip shook free in the stretch for second while Bolt The Duer held third.

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“The biggest thing has been keeping him healthy. He’s bigger, stronger and faster this year,” said Michael Burke on the reason Sweet Lou has been so good this year.

Sweet Lou ($2.60 to win) has won three of six races in 2014 for $148,500 in earnings. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura.

The Sunday card also featured three divisions of New York Sire Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers. Sir Sam’s Z Tam (1:52 1/5), El Bloombito (1:50 2/5) and Twin B Speedo (1:53) took home top honors.