Bythemissal Enters Potomac Pace On A Roll

Published: November 7, 2023 01:32 pm EST

Bythemissal has won 10 of 14 races during his 2023 campaign while knocking heads with the very best pacers in the country.

The Ron Burke-trained four-year-old gelding enters Thursday’s $125,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway off a dominating victory in the $600,000 Breeders Crown Open at Hoosier Park.

Having already won 24 of his 31 career starts and more than $2 million in purses, Bythemissal, the 6-5 favourite, may just be coming into his own.

“He’ll still get better. I think he’ll have one more bump. Usually, as a five-year-old, they can find one more gear,” said Burke. “I think he’ll be a little bit stronger. He’s even managed to be more manageable. As he’s learned, he’s gotten better. I think he has still more room to improve.”

A frightening thought for his rivals.

Not that Bythemissal is a late developer. The Downbytheseaside gelding, who is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Eric Good, Rich Lombardo Racing LLC and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, demonstrated immense potential from the start.

“Training down, I told my partners, ‘This is the best horse we’ve had in a long time,’” said Burke, whose trainees have earned a total of $324 million in purses. “We have a bunch of nice horses, and whoever we trained him with, he’d beat. It didn’t matter. He was beating horses two years older, three years older. I said, ‘We don’t have a horse in the barn that can beat this horse.’”

Burke, who has "close to 300 horses" in his stable, is obviously a good judge of talent having trained the winners of more than $20 million in 10 of the past 11 racing seasons. In the year of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, his horses earned ‘just’ $17.7 million to lead the North American standings.

Burke, who has trained the winners of more than 14,300 races, was inducted into harness racing’s U.S. Hall of Fame in 2022.

Bythemissal will take his place behind the mobile starting gate on Thursday evening to battle with many of the same pacers he had beaten in the Breeders Crown after closing in the stretch to win by 1-1/2 lengths with regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky.

“He ended up getting a very good trip because he pushed Tattoo Artist three-wide before they got settled on the first turn,” said Burke, recalling the 1:48 championship triumph. “He won pretty easily, too. He got the trip he wanted, and he took advantage of it and finished where he should have finished.”

Burke-trained Lous Pearlman, Tattoo Artist, last year’s Potomac Pace winner Allywag Hanover and Abuckabett Hanover, who finished second, third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the Breeders Crown, have been entered to take on Bythemissal again in Rosecroft’s marquee race.

The complete field for the Potomac Pace Invitational is listed below in post position order.

$125,000 Potomac Pace
Post - Horse - Driver - Trainer - Morning Line Odds
1. Tattoo Artist - Louis Roy - Chris Ryder - 8-5
2. Linedrive Hanover - Scott Zeron - Linda Toscano - 15-1
3. Leonidas A - Austin Siegelman - Mathew Medeiros - 20-1
4. Allywag Hanover - Todd McCarthy - Brett Pelling - 6-1
5. Abuckabett Hanover - Dexter Dunn - Andrew Harris - 12-1
6. Lous Pearlman - Tim Tetrick - Ron Burke - 10-1
7. Bythemissal - Yannick Gingras - Ron Burke - 6-5
8. Idealsomemagic A - Jordan Stratton - Cory Stratton - 20-1

(With files from Rosecroft Raceway)