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Burke On His Award-Winning Duo

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Published: January 12, 2011 10:41 pm ET

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Many trainers go through their entire careers without ever harnessing a Dan Patch Award winner, but for the second consecutive year, Ron Burke has been blessed with two: Buck I St Pat and Won The West.

“The really neat thing about it is I get them both back again [this] year and they have the chance to do it again, which is pretty special,” said the 41-year-old Burke, who led North America with 840 wins and $18 million in purses in 2010. “You don’t get many chances to even try to win [subsequent Dan Patch awards.]”

With last year’s triumph as the sport’s best older female trotter, the now eight-year-old Buck I St Pat joins Moni Maker (1997-2000), Peace Corps (1990-1992), Scenic Regal (1987-1989) and Fresh Yankee (1969-1972) as mares to collect U.S. division honours for at least three years in a row. The Ohio-bred daughter of Jailhouse Jesse-Name It Something, who is owned by the partnership of Howard Taylor, Edwin Gold, Abraham Basen and Ron Fuller, earned $723,865 from 19 race miles. The world champion mare won on nine occasions with three seconds and four thirds.

Buck I St Pat lowered her lifetime mark to 1:51 in the $100,000 Perretti Farms Matchmaker on August 7 at the Meadowlands, beat the boys yet again in the $100,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Chester on August 29, and captured her second consecutive Breeders Crown triumph on October 9 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The mare also captured the $124,000 American-National, the $351,000 Armbro Flight Final and the $115,500 Earl Rowe.

She was also named this year’s Ohio Horse of the Year, an honour that was also bestowed upon her in 2008.

Throughout the six years of her career, Buck I St Pat has faced the starter on 92 occasions with 49 wins, 13 second-place finishes and 10 thirds. She has earned more than $2.1 million in purse money.

Burke feels Buck I St Pat only improves with age.

“In past years it was more of a hold-her-together thing, but this year she got sounder and we never had an issue with her all year,” he said. “As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten stronger and heavier so the weight issue didn’t catch up with her like it normally does at the end of the year.

“She has put on weight on every part of her but I think it’s also the way Timmy [Tetrick] drives her,” Burke continued. “He usually makes her try only in the last quarter and she is usually able to get herself in position. I think her greatest attribute is how much she enjoys her work. I don’t know anyone that does more than her. She used to be a little too anxious and now she’s calmer. She has a wonderful attitude, is great to be around and is probably my favourite of all the horses including Maltese [Artist], [Won The] West and Foiled [Again]. She just has a special personality and is a great mare.”

Her conditioner was not surprised Buck I St Pat was the only unanimous Dan Patch Award winner.

“I would have been more shocked if she wasn’t,” Burke said. “Basically there are five big races for aged mares and she won all five of them, so how could you have made a case for anybody else? She earned it.”

Another resident of Burke’s shedrow is champion Won The West. The son of Western Hanover-Gabrielle captured his second consecutive Dan Patch award with a career year and is an O'Brien Award finalist in Canada.

The newly turned seven-year-old, who is owned by Strollin Stable, William Robinson and James Koehler, amassed more than $1.39 million in earnings and from 19 starts in 2010 had seven victories, eight seconds and three thirds. Like his stablemate, Won The West won his second consecutive Breeders Crown on October 9.

His triumphs last year also included the $125,000 Indiana Pacing Derby, the $780,000 Canadian Pacing Derby, the $312,000 Molson Pace and a division of the U.S Pacing Championship. He also finished second in the $200,000 Dan Patch and the $156,000 American-National.

Won The West did not race as a freshman due to a fracture, but has paced 89 pari-mutuel miles with 33 wins, 22 seconds and 12 thirds. The gelding possesses a lifetime mark of 1:47 and has bankrolled nearly $3.5 million.

“When he first came to us as a three-year-old, he was still a stallion and a hellraiser,” Burke said. “He was tough to handle and we made the decision to geld him thinking it would help him and us and it has certainly worked out. Now he’s a very nice horse and a pleasure to be around.”

Burke thinks Won The West just needed some time to develop.

“He missed his two-year-old year, so at three he was chasing and trying to make up ground and then at four, he was still trying to make up the ground from the three,” he said. “At five and six, by the end of each year it seems like he is able to maintain better than anybody else.

“At the beginning of the year, he’s right there, but he doesn’t seem able to dominate,” Burke continued. “He’s a big heavy horse and carries a ton of weight. I think he needs some time to turn his fat into muscle and starts out a bit slower. That works out well as all the big races are from September on and that’s when he seems to hit his best stride. We’ll just have to see how [this] year turns out.”


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

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