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Looking To Climb Class Ladder Again

Published: August 2, 2018 1:48 pm ET

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When the Four Seasons released their hit ‘Working My Way Back to You,’ they probably didn’t have Lincolnjames in mind — that was 1966, after all. Although, the seven-year-old Northwest-Winbak Lucy gelding might be using that song for inspiration as he tries to work his way back to the Preferred Pace at the Meadows, a class he once dominated.

Lincolnjames has put together a modest two-race winning streak and will try to take that next step back to the top in Saturday’s feature at the Meadows, a $13,000 conditioned pace that has been carded as Race 6. Lincolnjames will start from Post 8 and Dave Palone is scheduled to be in the sulky.

Saturday’s card will feature a number of compelling wagering opportunities, including a pair of total-pool guarantees — $7,500 for the Pick 4 (Races 4-7), $5,000 for the Pick 5 (Races 9-13) — and a $6,364.20 jackpot in the Super Hi-5 (Race 13). The special post time of 12 noon will allow the Meadows to coordinate its live races with its simulcast of the Hambletonian Day program from the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Lincolnjames, pictured winning the July 3, 2017 Winners Over/Preferred Handicap at the Meadows

In 2017, Lincolnjames won the Preferred, Preferred Handicap or Winners Over Pace nine times at the Meadows, which resulted in a major contribution to his $356,491 to his lifetime bankroll. This year, he lost his first 13 starts in those races, which prompted trainer Ron Burke to demote him to conditioned events — and shift Windsong Leo from Yonkers Raceway to the Meadows. Windsong Leo has stepped up, as he has won the track’s top pace twice, but he likely won’t stay at the Meadows long.

“I’ve had too many horses at Yonkers that all fit the same class, so I brought Leo here for a couple weeks,” Burke says. “He’ll go back to Yonkers.”

Meanwhile, Lincolnjames also responded well, as he went on to win his two conditioned events. If he tastes victory again on Saturday, he’ll likely earn a ticket to the Preferred. Burke can’t point to any injury that’s held him back.

“I’m more inclined to think the competition is getting tougher,” Burke has said. “Look at this race today — he’ll face Dapper Dude and Knocking Around, who race in the Preferred most of the time.”

Post 8 may not be the best vehicle for the final step in his comeback, but Burke thinks Lincolnjames still can slug it out on the front under the right circumstances.

“He likes the front-end better, but he has to get his fractions,” Burke says. “I don’t know if he’d like getting strung out in 26 (seconds).”

Burke’s interest in Saturday’s card also will be piqued by the debut of Covenant, his Sweet Lou-Monkeys Can Sing freshman pacer. Monkeys Can Sing had a brief, undistinguished racing career, but her family sparkles with stars. Her dam, Cathedra, banked $733,789 on the track and, as a broodmare, produced a pair of millionaires: Cathedra Dot Com and Cabrini Hanover. Perhaps that’s why Covenant’s owners — Burke Racing Stable, Hatfield Stables, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi LLC — put up $130,000 for him at auction.

“He’s the best-looking ‘Lou’ we have; he could be ‘Lou’s’ twin,” Burke says. ‘He’s been a disappointment this year. He doesn’t seem to pick things up very fast, but if you keep asking him to improve, he does. He’s supposed to be better than he has been. I keep telling him that, but he doesn’t understand. As long as he keeps improving, we’ll keep giving him chances.”

Covenant will start from the rail in Race 2 with Mike Wilder in the sulky.

The Meadows’ ‘Rockin’ On The Rail’ series of live concerts will continue Saturday, as ‘Dancing Queen’ will perform on the apron at the conclusion of the live card.


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