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Burke's Next Dream Team?


Published: November 24, 2011 12:02 pm ET

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“I’m excited for them to come back. Maybe they’ll be the ones to take over for Foiled [Again] and those guys when the end finally does come.”

As 2011 draws near an end, trainer Ron Burke hopes to see the future when Hugadragon and Westwardho Hanover compete in Sunday’s $221,465 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers at Dover Downs in Delaware. The Burke entry is the 2-5 favorite on the morning line. Both horses won their respective Matron elimination races last weekend; Hugadragon in a lifetime-best 1:49.3 and Westwardho Hanover in a career-best-equaling 1:49.1.

“Both horses are very similar,” Burke said. “They’re kind of on-the-bit, off-the-bit kinds of horses. You’ve got to move them when they’re ready. That probably is going to have a lot to do with how the race sets up, which one puts himself in a better position.”

Yannick Gingras will drive Hugadragon from post two while Dave Palone will send Westwardho Hanover from post four.

Westwardho Hanover, who joined the Burke Stable in late September, has won three of his last five starts, including the $330,000 Progress Pace on November 13 at Dover Downs. He has won five of 17 races overall and earned $349,122. He has made seven starts for Burke and owner Westward Ho Stable. He was a supplemental entry to both the Progress and Matron.

“He seems to have come around and he likes that racetrack (Dover) a lot,” Burke said. “I think the biggest thing is getting the opportunity to race a lot. He’s raced probably as much in the last six or seven weeks as he’s raced his whole career. I think he’s just found himself by racing.”

Following the Matron, Burke plans to supplement Westwardho Hanover to the $150,000 Cleveland Classic on December 10 at Northfield Park in Ohio.

Hugadragon has won six of 20 races this year and earned $605,096 for the Burke Racing Stable. The gelding was bred by Ron Burke, Sylvia Burke and Frederick Koechlin. Since the beginning of October, Hugadragon has won four of seven starts, including the $275,500 Monument Circle and divisions of the Tattersalls Pace and Bluegrass Series. He was second in the American-National.

Burke said both horses will return to action next year and he hopes the two can duplicate the success of the stable’s current older pacing stars Foiled Again and Won The West.

Following is the field in post position order for the Matron Stakes, with listed drivers and trainers:

1. American Romance, Matt Kakaley, Tony Alagna
2. Hugadragon, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke
3. Samandar, Tim Tetrick, Bruce Saunders
4. Westwardho Hanover, Dave Palone, Ron Burke
5. Eighteen, David Miller, Ian Moore
6. Lizard King, Ron Pierce, Nicholas Surick
7. Lookinforadventure, Corey Callahan, Bruce Saunders
8. Mr Tommy Fra, Andy Miller, Johnny Waite

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

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