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Lou, the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner and hometown hero whose sophomore campaign has been marked by recent disappointments, took a major step toward redemption Saturday when he captured an elimination of the $600,000 Delvin Miller Adios at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino, scoring a front-end victory in 1:49.1.


In the other $50,000 elim, Bettor’s Edge overcame post 9 to work out a comfortable pocket trip and triumph in 1:49. 


The winners will be joined in the final next Saturday afternoon by Meadowlands Pace winner A Rocknroll Dance, North America Cup champion Thinking Out Loud, Meadowlands Pace Consolation winner (1:47.3) Hurrikane Kingcole, Bolt The Duer, Breakin The Law and Allstar Legend. With the marquee horses making it through, the final shapes up as one of the most compelling in the 46-year history of the “Pace for the Orchids.”


The field will be determined by an open draw Wednesday, July 25, 6:30 PM, to be aired on Meadows Live.


Dave Palone pushed Sweet Lou, the 3-5 favorite, to the lead in a swift 26.1 but was able to back the half down to 55.2. That set the stage for third-quarter drama, as Yannick Gingras moved A Rocknroll Dance first over from fourth. The pair raced evenly with Sweet Lou and Palone into the final turn, where Sweet Lou began edging away en route to a 1-1/4-length victory.


“For sure I thought I had a chance,” Gingras said. “My horse was out the whole way, and he went a huge mile. I thought I had a chance in the last turn, but a horse like Sweet Lou who gets a 29 breather won’t get beat.


Palone said he felt confident Sweet Lou would respond.


“Yannick and I hit the gas at the same time in the far turn, and they just drew right alongside each other,” Palone said. “Historically, I haven’t been able to give this horse his head in the last turn. I didn’t want to make a mistake for the final. But I never felt A Rocknroll Dance would go by off those fractions, which is exactly what I wanted going into next week.


“His horse had all the confidence coming in here,” Palone added, “and my horse was coming off a performance where everybody’s knocking him. But I knew he was as good as he always is. That’s what makes the Adios so exciting. It’s just shake it up, and whoever gets the best trip wins. I’ve never seen a better bunch of 3-year-olds assembled.”


Sweet Lou, a son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future, now is undefeated in 10 lifetime starts (including qualifiers) at The Meadows, and he soared over $1 million in career earnings. More importantly for his connections, trainer Ron Burke and owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr and Phillip Collura, he’s one win away from the trophy they covet most.


“I love my horse—he’s my favorite horse of all time,” Palone said. “The owners are local, and I would pay any amount to win this race next week.”


Thinking Out Loud and Hurrikane Kingcole followed Sweet Lou and A Rocknroll Dance across the wire.


Bettor’s Edge may lack the credentials of some of his Adios rivals—he was sixth in the NA Cup final and failed to reach the Meadowlands Pace final—but he had plenty of speed and heart Saturday, making the front for Daniel Dube in 26.2 before yielding to the pocket and Bolt The Duer. After three-quarters in 1:21.4, Bettor’s Edge outkicked Bolt The Duer inside and downed him by a nose. Breakin The Law and Allstar Legend completed the ticket.

“It was a perfect trip, especially from the 9 hole. It’s tough from there,” Dube said.

“Everything worked out good. He does everything nice, he leaves the gate good, he gives you 100 percent,” he added.

Linda Toscano trains Bettor’s Edge, a homebred Bettor’s Delight-Spring Wind gelding, for Brittany Farms and Val D’Or Farms.


Saturday’s Adios final card also will feature the Adios consolation, the $150,000 (est.) Quinton Patterson Adioo Volo for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $100,000 (est.) Gov. Lawrence for 2-year-old colt and gelding pacers, and the $100,000 (est.) Catherine Baker Knoll for freshman filly pacers. First post Saturday is 12:20 PM. (The Meadows)