Sister Sledge set for season’s debut in Saturday stake at The MeadowsJune 26, 2020,
Washington, PA — The Meadows kicks off its reconfigured stakes season Saturday (June 27) and the opening event has attracted one of harness racing’s budding superstars. Sister Sledge, who banked $555,313 at 2 and finished second in Dan Patch Award voting, will make her seasonal debut in the $53,528 Arden Downs for 3-year-old filly trotters.
The stake goes as races 7 and 10. Sister Sledge will leave from post three in race 10 with Dave Palone driving. The 14-race card also features a $2,093.64 carryover in the final-race Super Hi-5. First post is 12:45 p.m.
Sister Sledge was a phenom at 2, winning her first seven starts and sweeping all four Pennsylvania Sires Stake preliminary legs en route to the championship. She finished second to Ramona Hill, who won the Dan Patch Award, in the Breeders Crown final.
Had trainer Ron Burke been able to stick to his original schedule, Sister Sledge likely would have a few starts under her belt instead of just the pair of qualifiers she’s mustered. But with racing and stakes schedules disrupted by COVID-19, Burke decided to ship Sister Sledge from her New Jersey base for the Arden Downs — and possibly for the Currier & Ives filly division July 4 at The Meadows.
“With the schedule changes, this was the first stake she was eligible for,” Burke said. “She needs the race, and we didn’t want her in an Open Trot. We want to stretch her out a bit.”
Mark Weaver of Weaver Bruscemi, which owns the daughter of Father Patrick-Behindclosedoors with Burke Racing Stable, Jason Melillo, and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, noted that, although Sister Sledge will compete for much higher purses later in the year, this race is important to her.
“We hope this will lay a foundation for her for the rest of the year,” Weaver said. “Anytime we go to the gate, we want to win, and the purse isn’t chopped liver.”
Saturday’s program also features The Meadows debut of Portrstownchris IR (race one, post four, Ronnie Wrenn Jr.), a 9-year-old Irish bred who is part of a package of six horses that the Burke stable purchased through Irish horseman/broker Derek Delaney.
“Derek had been pushing us for a few years to buy some horses from Great Britain, but we thought that wasn’t really our game,” Weaver said. “Then, one of the British horses beat one of our horses and I thought, maybe there’s method to Derek’s madness.”
So far, it’s been a successful new route to the winner’s circle for the Burke stable. In their 18 starts to date (counting qualifiers), the British/Irish six pack has 16 victories and two place finishes.