Day At The Track

All Bets Off heads Burke trio in Ben Franklin

06:14 AM 29 Jun 2018 NZST
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All Bets Off, harness racing Filibuster Hanover, harness racing Rockin Ron, harness racing
All Bets Off
Mark Hall/USTA photo
Filbuster Hanover
Mark Hall/USTA photo
Rockin Ron
New Image Media photo

After suffering through early-season issues, All Bets Off appears to be back on his game.

The 7-year-old stallion, who is within striking range of $3 million in career purses, leads three horses from the stable of trainer Ron Burke into Saturday's $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. All Bets Off is the 3-1 second choice on the morning line behind 5-2 favorite McWicked.

All Bets Off was winless in his first four races of the year, with three finishes of sixth or worse, before getting time off to regroup. After a six-week absence, All Bets Off returned with a third-place finish in the Battle of Lake Erie, a win in the preferred handicap at the Meadowlands, and a second-place finish by a nose to Sintra in his elimination of the Ben Franklin. However, Sintra was dropped to third for racing inside the pylons, giving All Bets Off the victory.

For his career, All Bets Off has won 29 of 110 races and earned $2.99 million. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, the Weaver Bruscemi partnership, Frank Baldachino, and The Panhellenic Stable Corp.

"In his last three he's been back to the All Bets Off that we know," Burke said. "The beginning of the year was a complete disaster. We couldn't figure out what was wrong. But it was a bunch of things; it wasn't just one thing. We knew he wasn't sound, he wasn't breathing. For two weeks we turned him out and basically let him reset himself. He's been lights out his last three."

The Franklin is one of four marquee events that make up Sun Stakes Saturday at Pocono. The card also features the $500,000 Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old trotters, where filly Manchego is the 5-2 morning-line favorite; the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial, with Lather Up the 2-1 favorite; and the $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers, where Sidewalk Dancer is the 5-2 choice.

All Bets Off will start the Franklin from post No. 5 with driver Matt Kakaley.

"I think he's ready, it's just how does he get there," Burke said. "He doesn't like to sit two holes; he'd either rather cut the mile or come off the back. But if he's sitting sixth or seventh it's probably too far to come from there."

Burke's remaining two Franklin finalists are Filibuster Hanover and Rockin Ron. Filibuster Hanover was third-placed-second in the same elimination as All Bets Off and will start from post eight with driver Yannick Gingras. Rockin Ron was second in the elimination won by McWicked and will leave from post six with driver Louis Roy.

Filibuster Hanover, a 4-year-old gelding, has won five of six races this year and 12 of 39 lifetime to accumulate earnings of $1.04 million. He is owned by Burke Racing, Joseph DiScala Jr., J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi.

"He's been super," Burke said. "Last week I was a little disappointed, I thought he should have won from the trip he got. We scoped him and he didn't scope the best, so we worked on him all week and I would expect that he'll be better."

Rockin Ron, a 6-year-old gelding, has won five of 12 races this year and finished second on four occasions. For his career, he has won 33 of 93 starts and $1.26 million. He is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, RTC Stables, and J&T Silva Stables.

The 28-year-old Canadian-based Roy has driven Rockin Ron three times, winning an elimination of the 2017 Canadian Pacing Derby in 1:47.2 at Mohawk before finishing second by a neck to Sintra in the final, and posting an eight-length win in May's Camluck Classic in a track-record 1:50.1 at The Raceway at Western Fair District.

"Rockin Ron is the wild card," said Burke, who has won the Ben Franklin twice. "For whatever reason, the two best starts of his life have been with Roy driving so that's why we brought him down. The kid just rolls him and the horse reacts to it. I don't know if he'll change tactics, but the horse does step out of the blocks when we use that kid driving."

Joining All Bets Off and McWicked as Franklin elimination winners was Australian-bred Heaven Rocks. He will start from post four with David Miller driving for trainer Ross Croghan. McWicked, trained by Casie Coleman, will be driven by Brian Sears, who also piloted the stallion to victory in his elim.

Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) Saturday at Pocono. The Franklin is race No. 11 on the card, preceded by the Lynch and Hempt and followed by the Beal.

Following is the field for this year's Ben Franklin Pace.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-Mac's Jackpot-Brett Miller-Jeff Smith-15/1
2-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-5/2
3-Donttellmeagain-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-12/1
4-Heaven Rocks A-David Miller-Ross Croghan-4/1
5-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-3/1
6-Rockin Ron-Louis Roy-Ron Burke-10/1
7-Sintra-Jody Jamieson-Dave Menary-6/1
8-Filibuster Hanover-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-5/1
9-Western Fame-Andy McCarthy-Jimmy Takter-20/1

Complete entries for the card are available at this link.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

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