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Burke Brigade Sweeps Final Matron

HugadragonMatronFotowonedit.jpg

Published: November 27, 2011 8:51 pm ET

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Hammered down to odds of 1-9 after winning their respective eliminations, the Ron Burke entry of Hugadragon and Westwardho Hanover swept the top two spots in the $221,465 Matron Three-Year-Old Colt Pace as expected on Sunday night at Dover Downs.

Eighteen (Dave Miller) established himself as the early leader in the eight-horse field with Mr Tommy Fra (Andy Miller) tucking into the pocket and the overwhelming favourites getting away in third and fourth. However, Eighteen's lead was short-lived as Westwardho Hanover (Dave Palone) blasted to the top from third while they raced by the :26.1 opening quarter pole. But Westwardho Hanover's stablemate, Hugadragon, and driver Yannick Gingras followed that move and swept to command shortly after.

Hugadragon raced to the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.3 with Samandar (Tim Tetrick) and Lizard King (Ron Pierce) advancing on the outside in the first and second over spots. But Hugadragon drew clear as he swung into the stretch and cruised to the two and a quarter length score in 1:50.3. Westwardho Hanover held off Samandar for second while Lizard King finished fourth and Eighteen completed the cashers.

"I thought going in it was a two-horse race the way the eliminations played out last week," commented Gingras after the victory. "But I was actually worried about Timmy's horse [Samandar]. His horse raced really well and around the last turn I thought he might of had a shot at me, but my horse is a tricky horse. He didn't get out of the gate like sometimes he does and I removed to the front. He really didn't feel good until the top of the stretch. At the top of the stretch, he kicked into another gear and he took off, but until that point I didn't even know if I would get my stablemate to the top and home.

"The Burke brigade did a great job," continued the reinsman. "They have a lot of horses and it's not surprising because they have so many of them and they do a great job. I'm just glad to be part of the team."

The Dragon Again-Hip Huggers gelding completed an impressive season in which he put together a record reading 7-5-3 in 21 starts while banking over $715,000 for Pennsylvania's Burke Racing Stable. Among his major conquests include the Monument Circle at Indiana Downs on Nov. 5 and back-to-back wins in the Bluegrass Series and Tattersalls Pace at The Red Mile in early October. He also finished second in the American National, Pennsylvania Sire Stakes Championship and a division of the Oliver Wendell Holmes.

"I'm sure this is it for him," said Gingras. "If I'm not mistaken, I think Ronnie is going to bring him back a little late next year -- give him a nice, well-deserved rest. This horse has had a great year and he'll definitely be back next year. He definitely is [still fresh]. He is probably as good as he was all year. He really came on strong the second half of the year. He started out the year a little slow, but he kept on getting better and better so I'm looking forward to racing him next year, that's for sure."

Four $20,000 second leg preliminary events of the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund Stakes for two-year-old pacers and trotters were also held during the card.

In the first of a pair of DSBF Colt Pace prelims, Gary and Barbara Iles’ homebred Shaving Mug romped to his fifth straight DSBF victory in 1:54.2, equalling his lifetime mark. The altered son of Badlands Hanover-Pocket Comb, driven by Montrell Teague and trained by George Teague Jr., has won six times with two seconds in eight starts this year earning $95,250. Chizzled In Stone (Jon Roberts) finished third, but was placed second when Its Outta Here (Ross Wolfenden) was determined to have caused interference and was placed third.

Tim Tetrick piloted Flying Instructor to a 1:55 victory in another Colt Pace prelim. Wayne Givens trains the Badlands Hanover-Daylon Flyer freshman, who is owned by Niel Gargiulo, Louie Paglierani, Legacy Racing Of Delaware and Nanticoke Racing. Ken Kma (Vic Kirby) and Pacific Perch (Art Stafford Jr.) finished second and third, respectively.

Windshield, a Political Briefing–CR Mimosa colt owned by Nanticoke Racing and driver Ross Wolfenden and trained by Les Givens, proved much the best again, notching his sixth consecutive victory and seventh in nine starts this year, a 2:01 win in one of the two Colt Trot prelims. Bold Strike (Art Stafford Jr.) was the runner-up. Boss The Hoss finished third.

In the other trotting event, Im So Striking, driven by trainer Eddie Dennis for Lois and Earl Walters and the E & K Stable, took command early when race favourite Spunky Jack (Vince Copeland) broke stride after the start. The So Striking-Ringside Katie homebred then led the rest of a 2:02 mile to keep his record perfect in two starts. Klondike Mike (Rick Murphy) was next, over 13 lengths behind, with Montchanin (Kim Vincent) the distanced show finisher.

The top eight point-getters in each of the two DSBF frosh filly divisions return next Saturday with the colts vying on Sunday in $100,000 finals.

(With files from Dover Downs)


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