North America’s leading trainer will have strength in numbers when he tries to add the inaugural edition of the Elitlopp Playoff to his list of major stakes wins.
Ron Burke is pointing Gural Hanover, Crazy Wow, and DWs NY Yank to the $150,000 race at the Meadowlands that will be contested on a special Mother’s Day matinee program on Sunday, May 8. The winner of the race will also receive an invitation to compete in The Elitlopp, one of Europe’s most prestigious events, at Solvalla Racecourse outside Stockholm, Sweden on Sunday, May 29.
The Elitlopp Playoff is part of a groundbreaking partnership between the Meadowlands Racetrack and Solvalla. In addition to the Playoff, other trotting races on the Meadowlands card will be simulcast to Europe for separate pool wagering.
“Having competed in The Elitlopp in 2009 with Buck I St. Pat, I know what a great experience it is to race over there in Sweden,” said Burke. “It would be especially nice to go over there this year with the major upgrade in shipping they have set up. Rather than it taking 19 hours or more to get over there, now they are providing a direct flight from the east coast to Sweden.”
Four-year-old Crazy Wow, who won the Colonial, Matron, Erskine, and Empire Breeders Classic during his millionaire sophomore season, leads the Burke trio. He is one of only two four-year-olds amongst the 15 Playoff nominees.
“Crazy Wow was the only aged horse I sent down to train in Florida this winter,” explained Burke. “He trained so well down there last year that I sent him down there again. We have him staked to everything this year and with the injury to Mission Brief, he is the best four-year-old in our barn.”
Crazy Wow is entered to qualify at the Meadowlands this Saturday morning to kick off his Playoff preparations.
Gural Hanover won just once last year during his four-year-old season, but was competitive against the sport’s top trotters including a runner-up finish in the Cashman Memorial and a third place finish to close out the year in the Breeders Crown. He has since returned in 2016 with two wins and a third place finish in Open events.
“He has come back awesome,” said Burke. “Horses always make a jump from their four-year-old season to the five-year-old season and I think that jump will be even bigger for this horse.”
As for DWs NY Yank, who won a $25,000 Winners Over trot this week at Harrah’s Philadelphia, the Playoff will be a chance to score a signature stakes win in a hard-hitting career that has the modestly-bred seven-year-old just $15,015 away from $1 million in lifetime earnings.
“This spot is a bit of a reach for him, but most of the other horses in here will not be fully cranked up this early in the season and we are hoping we can get them while he is sharp and they aren’t at their absolute best,” said Burke.
Fans that wish to follow along the road to the Elitlopp Playoff may visit a special website (elitloppplayoff.com) that will provide the latest news and profiles of all nominated horses. Follow along on social media using #ElitloppPlayoff.