Day At The Track

This Is The Plan seeks elusive victory in Prix d'Ete

03:08 AM 17 Aug 2019 NZST
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Thisjetsabookin, harness racing
This Is The Plan, seen here winning the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace, is the leading contender for the $200,000 Prix D'Ete at H3R on August 18.
Curtis Salonick photo

Wins have been hard to come by, but that hasn't diminished This Is The Plan's performances in the eyes of his owners. After all, if not for history's co-fastest horse Lather Up and defending Horse of the Year McWicked, the 4-year-old gelding would have plenty more to show for his efforts.

This Is The Plan has won one of 12 races this year, with his triumph coming in the Ben Franklin Pace on June 29. Since then, he has been runner-up to Lather Up three times (Graduate championship, William R. Haughton Memorial, Sam McKee Memorial) and McWicked once (Joe Gerrity Jr. Memorial). Overall, This Is The Plan has six second-place finishes in his past seven starts.

The Somebeachsomewhere gelding will try to get back to the winner's circle Sunday (Aug. 18) in the C$200,000 Prix d'Ete for 4-year-old pacers at Hippodrome 3R in Quebec. There is no Lather Up, but plenty of competition, including O'Brien Award winner Jimmy Freight and Confederation Cup champ Done Well.

This Is The Plan will start from post four with driver Dan Dube at the lines for trainer Ron Burke. He is 5-2 on the morning line, part of the favored entry with stablemate Done Well.

"We can't complain, he's been super," said Mark Weaver, who is a member of This Is The Plan's ownership group. "Ronnie has thought all along he would be a good fit for us just because he is so handy. He's been able to leave (the starting gate) and put himself in a good position. Unfortunately, when Lather Up comes moving to the front there's not much you can do except try to hold on for second. That's what he's been able to do, which is fine."

This Is The Plan has won eight of 45 career races and earned $1.19 million. He was purchased by the Burke Brigade last September and paid immediate dividends with wins in the Matron Stakes (in a dead heat) and Progress Pace. He also finished third in the Breeders Crown.

This season, he is No. 2 in purses among older male pacers, with $551,618. Only Lather Up is richer, with $677,448.

"Nowadays, especially for the 4-year-olds, so much money is on the smaller tracks," said Weaver, who shares ownership of This Is The Plan with Mike Bruscemi (as Weaver Bruscemi LLC), Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr. "We try to acquire horses that we think can get around the turns. He can leave and get around smaller tracks so well. That was one of the reasons we were interested in him last year."

Done Well joined the Burke stable at the same time as This Is The Plan. He began this season well, with a second in a preliminary round of the Graduate Series and wins in his Confederation Cup elimination and the final. He was found to be sick following a fourth-place finish in the Camluck Classic and has been off the board in his past six starts. During that stretch, he has started from post eight twice, post nine twice and post 11 once.

For his career, Done Well has won nine of 32 races and $533,245. He is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Wingfield Brothers.

Done Well will start the Prix d'Ete from post three with driver Bob McClure.

"To start the year, Done Well was super and This Is The Plan was drawing bad and having bad racing luck," Weaver said. "Now the last month and a half, it's kind of flip-flopped. (Done Well) has been racing against the best and has gone through a couple little ups and downs. But he's certainly a factor.

"We like our horses, we like our posts, we like our drivers, so we'll take our chances from there."

Racing begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Sunday at Hippodrome 3R. The Prix d'Ete is race 11 on the card. Following is the field.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-M/L

1-Hitman Hill-Eric Goodell-Hunter Oakes-7/2
2-Pretty Handsome-Trevor Henry-Andrew McCabe-6/1
3-Done Well-Bob McClure-Ron Burke-5/2
4-This Is The Plan-Dan Dube-Ron Burke-5/2
5-The Downtown Bus-Doug McNair-Jeff Gillis-4/1
6-Jimmy Freight-Louis Roy-Richard Moreau-3/1
7-Turbo Hill-Hunter Oakes-Hunter Oakes-7/2
8-Casimir Richie P-Sylvain Filion-Dr. Ian Moore-5/1

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

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