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Burke Sweeps Big M Series Finals

Published: March 16, 2013 7:42 pm ET

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The three-week long Aquarius Series duel between Escape The News and Warrawee Needy wrapped up with another exciting battle between the top two players in the $57,000 final at Meadowlands Racetrack.

Kicking off the 13-race card, Escape The News and driver Yannick Gingras blasted off the gate from the outside post six and established an early three length lead over insiders Warrawee Needy and Mark MacDonald before the :27-second opening quarter mark.

As Escape The News led the way down the backstretch towards the :55 half-mile mark, In Commando and Ron Pierce advanced first over from third. In Commando applied heavy pressure to the pacesetter as they approached the third quarter station in 1:22.3, but Escape The News rebuffed that rival turning for home.

Meanwhile, Warrawee Needy manoeuvered out of the pocket and launched his attack down the lane, but came up a length short at the wire. Escape The News notched his fifth win of the season in seven starts for trainer Ron Burke in 1:49.3. Yo Cheyenne Rocky, driven by David Miller, prevailed in a photo for show.

The winning four-year-old son of Artiscape finished second to Warrawee Needy in the first leg of the series on March 2 and prevailed by a neck over that foe in a North American season's mark of 1:48.4 on March 9.

He paid $5 to win this time out as the slight second choice.

"I thought my horse would be awful hard to beat on the front," commented Gingras after the race. "He's very game on the front. Sometimes it's a little hard to get him there, but he got off the gate tonight on the right foot and made it there. [Warrawee Needy] is a good horse; I wasn't counting my money at the top of the stretch. I knew we had a long way to go, but like I said, I was confident in my horse and he got the job done tonight."

"I was very happy with him," added Burke. "He'll get a well-deserved break now and then prep for the stakes at the end of the year."

Escape The News is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, JJK Stables LLC, and Howard Taylor. He has now won 13 times in his career while banking over half a million dollars in purses.

Gingras and Burke completed a sweep of the early Daily Double as trotter Quick Deal captured the $50,000 Horse & Groom Series Final.

When the gate swung open there was a three-horse cavalry charge for the early lead with the widest Modern Family and Tim Tetrick sprinting to the front over Quick Deal and fellow Burke trainee DWs NY Yank, driven by David Miller.

First leg winner Modern Family hit the opening quarter in :26.4 and proceeded to the half in :55.1. But Gingras has Quick Deal on the move before the 1:24.2 third quarter mark.

The 3-5 favourite swept to command into the stretch and held off the quick-closing Harbor Point, driven by Pierce, to win by a neck in 1:52.4. Not Afraid and Corey Callahan finished third.

Quick Deal paid $3.40 to win and completed a $10.60 Daily Double.

While tackling a series for non-winners of four or $175,000 lifetime, Burke noted that the trotter could become a Free For Aller.

"It looks like it," said Burke. "They don't go that much more than this, even at any point in the year. They're going to go in [1]:51 and [1]:52 so he looks like he can trot with them."

The five-year-old Revenue S gelding, who took his mark of 1:52.1 in the series' second round on March 8, has won four times in seven starts this year for owners Our Horse Cents Stables and Rossie Smith. The win was his 17th lifetime and pushed his bankroll over the $200,000 mark.

On the wagering front, the total handle of $3,593,659 was $1,029,420 more than the $2,564,239 wagered on this same Saturday in 2012, an increase of 40 per cent. The live handle also showed an increase of 13 per cent. The Meadowlands has run 32 programs so far this season and all 32 have shown increases in total handle.

To view Saturday's harness racing results, click on the following link: Saturday Results - Meadowlands Racetrack.

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