Burke Aims For Big Saturday Night

Ron Burke will have his eyes on a bunch of horses from his stable Saturday at The Meadowlands, with 12 of his 17 entries that night heading to Grand Circuit stakes. Among them are morning-line favourites Southwind Gendry in the Meadowlands Pace and Atlanta in a leg of the Miss Versatility Series, where she meets archrival Manchego.

Southwind Gendry, who last week won his Meadowlands Pace elimination by a neck over Lawless Shadow in 1:49.1 on a sloppy track, is the 3-1 morning line favourite in the $700,000 final for three-year-old pacers. He will start from post four with Yannick Gingras driving.

Last season, Southwind Gendry won 10 of 13 races and earned $583,069, which led all two-year-old male pacers in purses. His triumphs included six Grand Circuit starts plus the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship. He finished third in the Breeders Crown final, beaten a head by dead-heat winners Perfect Sting and Summa Cum Laude.

Southwind Gendry, a son of Always B Miki out of Gamblers Passion, enters the Meadowlands Pace final with three wins and two seconds in five starts this year. Despite those numbers, Burke was not completely pleased with the gelding’s performances as he headed to the Pace elims.

“He was way better last week,” Burke said. “He’s improving. Finally, I think he’s turned the corner. I think we’ve figured out certain things with him and I think he’s heading the right way.

“We didn’t make any changes, it was just getting him healthy. One of his best qualities is that he just tries, and that’s where something was wrong, because he wasn’t trying as hard as he usually does. I just think he didn’t feel good.”

Burke is seeking his first Meadowlands Pace trophy. His best finish came in 2018 when Dorsoduro Hanover finished second.

Perfect Sting, last year’s Dan Patch Award-winning two-year-old male pacer, is the 7-2 second choice in Saturday’s final, followed by One Eight Hundred at 9-2 and Charlie May at 5-1.

“He’s in a good spot,” Burke said about Southwind Gendry. “But there’s a lot of horses that can win. It should be a good race.”

Atlanta is the 5-2 morning-line favourite in the 11-horse Miss Versatility leg for older female trotters. The six-year-old mare is 2-for-2 this season and goes to Saturday’s start off a 1:51.1 victory on a “good” track in the Joie De Vie Stakes.

For her career, the daughter of Chapter Seven-Hemi Blue Chip has won 27 of 53 races and $2.95 million. Her triumphs include the 2018 Hambletonian Stakes and 2020 Maple Leaf Trot. She was a Dan Patch Award winner at ages three and four.

Atlanta will start the $40,000 Miss Versatility from post five with Gingras.

“She’s been unbelievable,” Burke said. “She came back great; I don’t know if she’s ever been better. She’s just a great horse. She drew in a great spot again (Saturday). She has to race Manchego finally, but we’ve been doing that for years. I enjoy that. It decides who is the best mare. When those two race each other, that’s what it comes down to.”

Atlanta and Manchego have competed in the same race 18 times in their careers, with Atlanta winning seven and Manchego winning five. Last season, they met six times, with each horse winning three. Since they turned four, they have combined to win nine of the 12 races where they appeared together, with two of the losses coming to male rivals.

Manchego, a Dan Patch Award winner at ages two and five, will start from post three with Dexter Dunn driving for trainer Nancy Takter and is the 3-1 second choice. She has won three of four races this season, including the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at The Meadowlands in May.

Burke also will send out the morning-line favourites in both $265,400 divisions of the William R. Haughton Memorial for older male pacers. Backstreet Shadow is 3-1 in the first division, and This Is The Plan is 5-2 in the second.

Also in the second division is Burke-trained Cattlewash, who is the 7-2 second choice after winning last week’s Graduate Series Pace final in 1:47.1 on a sloppy track. The time equaled the fastest mile of the year. Last season, Cattlewash won in 1:46.4, equaling the world record for a three-year-old male pacer.

“That was a huge mile last week,” Burke said. “That was (1):47 not on a perfect track. That was (1):47 on a rain-deadened track. That’s a big mile.

“He just keeps getting better. The same as last year, every start was a little bit better, a little bit better. He’s just going to be a great horse. When it’s all said and done, he’s going to be a great horse.”

Meadowlands Pace Night will begin with an early post time of 6:00 p.m. (EDT).

The Meadowlands Pace, Hambletonian Maturity and both the Dorothy and William Haughton Memorial stakes will be televised live in a joint effort with NYRA as a part of the popular “America’s Day At The Races” series on Fox Sports 2 from 8-10 p.m.

The 2021 Meadowlands Pace media guide as well as profiles on each of the 10 finalists are available at the Meadowlands Racetrack website.

The Big M and TrackMaster have teamed to regularly provide free past performances for each race card. Past performances can be also be found on The Meadowlands website.


Have something to say about this? Log in or create an account to post a comment.