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Burke Throws Down The Gauntlet

Published: July 25, 2017 2:11 pm ET

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Perennial Grand Circuit dash and money-leading trainer Ron Burke and his ‘Burke Brigade’ will be well represented in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park this Friday (July 28), as he will start both Hannelore Hanover and Crazy Wow in the state’s biggest harness race ever.

Hannelore Hanover won seven major stakes in 2016 including the $471,200 Hambletonian Maturity, $208,260 Armbro Flight, $188,350 Fresh Yankee, $170,000 Muscle Hill, $220,000 Centaur Trotting Classic, $200,000 TVG Free For All and the $250,000 Breeders Crown.

On the strength of winning 17 of 20 starts last year, Hannelore Hanover was named the 2016 Dan Patch Trotting Mare of the Year and the 2016 O’Brien Award Older Trotting Mare of the Year. In 2017 she picked up right where she left off and has won four of her five starts, including a victory in the $184,690 Armbro Flight final at Mohawk Racetrack.

In her last start, which took place at the Meadowlands on Saturday, July 15, Hannelore Hanover won a leg of the Miss Versatility, as she romped by five lengths in 1:50.3 while under wraps. The mile was a new lifetime mark for Hannelore Hanover, and, for a week, was a new track record for aged trotting mares at the Meadowlands.

Hannelore Hanover is heading into the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot as sharp as she can possibly be, and she will be looking to take the boys to task once again.

“Right now Hannelore Hanover is the best trotting mare in the country and until somebody dethrones her, that’s just what she is. And she is as good as just about any trotter going right now. She’s very consistent, she does everything you ask of her; she’s just a good horse.” said Burke.

“She’s seen all these horses before and she always gives you a fight. It’s going to be tough though; you know these are really good horses in this race. But a five-eighths mile track suits her as she set a track record (1:52.3) at Miami Valley last year. Yannick is trying to come and that’s a big deal to me that Yannick gets there.”

For her career, Hannelore Hanover has won 30 of 46 starts and has earned $1.58-million in purses.

Stablemate Crazy Wow was a NYSS champion at two before becoming a Grand Circuit star. He is a multiple major stakes winner, including the $500,000 Colonial Trot at Pocono Downs where he defeated Hambletonian winner Pinkman in 2015.

Crazy Wow got off to a fast start this year. He finished second in the $200,000 Cutler at the Meadowlands in early May before scoring three consecutive victories (in the $150,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Philly, $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs in a track record time of 1:52, and the $185,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic at Northfield Park). Then after being off for three weeks, Crazy Wow qualified at the Meadowlands in 1:51.1, which tied his lifetime mark taken two years ago.

“Crazy Wow is a horse that just gets better all the time. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for us, but this year he found himself again early,” said Burke. “We qualified him the other day because we couldn’t find a race for him anywhere. That’s a problem for horses like this; it’s tough to get them raced. But right now I couldn’t be happier with where he is. He gets around any size track and he can trot with any competition. He’s a real nice horse.”

Crazy Wow has 18 lifetime wins, a mark of 1:51.1 and earnings totaling $1.86-million.

Both horses will ship in Thursday morning, but won’t hit the track until they warm up for the race on Friday afternoon.

The Burke Stable is no stranger to Plainridge Park. Its trainees have won the Bert Beckwith Memorial four times in five years with Maltese Artist (1:49.2, Bruce Ranger) in 2005 while setting the all-time pacing track record with his effort, Santastics Pan (1:51.1, Jim Morrill Jr.) in 2006, Maltese Artist (1:50.4, Greg Grismore) for the second time in 2007 and Foiled Again (1:50.3, Dave Palone) in 2009.

“Plainridge is a great track and it’s awesome that they have it turned around and headed the right way. I’ve consider racing there full time, but basically I’d have to stable there because it’s too far to ship from New Jersey,” said Burke.

There will be some special promotions on tap for fans who attend the Spirit of Massachusetts Day card.

Plainridge Park will be giving away inaugural edition Spirit of Massachusetts Trot baseball caps starting at 3:30 p.m. in the grandstand. They are limited to one per customer and will be available while supplies last.

Live racing fans will also have the opportunity to win tickets to the Super Bowl rematch between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons to be played at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, Oct. 22.

In order to win, customers must place losing Plainridge pari-mutuel tickets with their name and telephone number printed on the back in boxes numbered 1-9, corresponding with the nine horses in the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot. After that race, a winner will be drawn from the corresponding numbered box as the winner of the race. Only losing Plainridge tickets can be used for entry.

Post time for the first race is 4 p.m. The Spirit of Massachusetts Trot has been programmed as Race 9 on the card and is slated to go off at 6:40 p.m.

For more information about the Spirit of Massachusetts Trot, log onto the Plainridge Park website (plainridgeparkcasino.com) and click the ‘Live Racing’ tab.

(Plainridge Park)


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