Youaremycandygirl set a world record in a division of the International Stallion Stakes at the Red Mile in October. Credit: USTA/Mark Hall
He leads all North American trainers with 725 victories from 3,663 seasonal trips to the starting gate, tops those same standings with $16.7 million in the bank, has the fastest trotting female in history, the Canadian Trotting Classic victor, the Little Brown Jug winner and a recent world champion 2-year-old pacing filly in his barn. Ron Burke, however, stated in a simulcast interview at the Red Mile that this year was not exactly transpiring as he had planned.
“Maybe our 2-year-olds were not as good as we had hoped in the beginning and our year started out a little slow,” said the Fredericktown, Pa., resident. “But our horses are firing on all cylinders now and it looks like we will finish out the season very strong.”
Burke and his team were the recipients of a crushing disappointment when What The Hill was disqualified from a triumph in the $1 million Hambletonian, one of the few classic contests he has never captured, as the result of an interference ruling. Perfect Spirit, who crossed the finish line in second, was awarded the victory while What The Hill, owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable, Melville, N.Y., Deo Volente Farms, Flemington, N.J. and J&T Silva Stables, Long Beach, N.Y., was placed ninth.
Earlier on that same card, Burke’s Dan Patch award winner and world champion Hannelore Hanover finished an uncharacteristically dull fourth in the $176,250 Steele Memorial. It was later discovered the 5-year-old daughter of Swan For All-High Sobriety, owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Canonsburg, Pa., Frank Baldachino, Clarksburg, N.J. and J&T Silva Stables, was sick.
One Day, Two Records
Emulating the personality and mannerisms of their conditioner, both equines shook off what was a less than stellar day at the office, to rebound in a gargantuan way.
Hanover Hannelore is now the sport’s swiftest female trotter of all-time after a 1:49.2 triumph in the $136,000 Allerage Open Trot at Red Mile on Oct. 7 in which she defeated five world champion male rivals. The mile was also the second fastest trotting mile in harness racing history after Sebastian K’s 1:49 mile at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
What The Hill exacted his own redemption with an authoritative score in a stakes record 1:51.4 at Mohawk Racetrack in the C$684,000 Canadian Trotting Classic on Sept. 16. The time was also a new lifetime mark for the son of Muscle Hill-K T Cha Cha.
“It helps ease the pain,” the colt’s Hall of Fame pilot, David Miller said after the race about how this win felt in relation to the Hambletonian loss.
While What The Hill and Hannelore Hanover have continued their seasons with aplomb, they have been joined in that endeavor by their stablemates Filibuster Hanover and Youaremycandygirl.
Filibuster Hanover, a 3-year-old son of Somebeachsomewhere-Fashion Ectasy, upset favored Fear The Dragon and Downbytheseaside to provide driver Yannick Gingras and Burke with their second Little Brown Jug trophy in that $401,472 final at the Delaware County Fairgrounds on Sept. 21.
Owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Joseph Di Scala Jr., Katonah, N.Y. and J&T Silva Stables, it was the third win of the season and fifth of his 2-year career. He has returned to defeat the defending 2-year-old champion Huntsville in a $73,400 division of the Bluegrass Stakes at Red Mile on Oct. 1 and had a strong third place finish to the sport’s top-ranked horse, Fear The Dragon, in the $260,000 Tattersalls Pace on Oct. 8.
"All year we said once he comes to the Jug we thought he could pop a huge mile on the front," Gingras said in the winner’s circle after the Jug. "He's not quite a speed horse, but he's got the speed to do it. He can't do it every week obviously, but we've just been waiting for this. Sometimes the plans work and sometimes they don't, but today they did work.
"I thought he was the best horse in the elimination. He was locked in and I had a fresh horse going into the final. If I could get around David, I would have parked anybody. 26, 54, Brian popped at the half. I thought it was a good race, and we went at it pretty good for a second heat of the Jug. Obviously we came out on top, so I'm happy."
Not to be denied her own time in the spotlight, Youaremycandygirl, dismissed at odds of 40-1 even after setting a new track record at Tioga Downs (1:52) on Aug. 5, hit the wire first in the C$500,000 She’s A Great Lady final at Mohawk Racetrack on Sept. 27.
"I saw Randy (Waples) gaining ground at one point and thought I might be second again, but my filly fought on. It was a great feeling, especially since it was so unexpected," Louis Philippe-Roy, her pilot, said after the race.
Owned by W.J. Donovan of Delray Beach, Fla., Youaremycandygirl returned to the U.S. and annexed a $66,300 division of the International Stallion Stakes at the Red Mile in a world record 1:50 on Oct. 7.
The filly has now compiled a record of 7-5-0-0 and earned $317,195 this year.
Burke had this comment about two horses from his barn setting world records on the same day. "It's a very good day. Those would be the two we thought going in that had the best shots, so you have to win them because you aren't going to win many you shouldn't."