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Big Mile Has Won The West Ready For More


Published: June 22, 2011 8:12 pm ET

Last Comment: June 23, 2011 7:39 am ET | 2 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Entering last weekend’s $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup Invitational Pace, Won The West was in the midst of a slump unlike any of his career. He made quick work of ending it though.

Won The West equaled the fastest mile in Canadian harness racing history by winning the Gold Cup in 1:47.2 on June 18. He will turn his attention to the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace at Harrah’s Chester next. Eliminations, if necessary, are Sunday (June 26) and the final is July 3.

The Gold Cup victory was Won The West’s first win of the year, in his fifth start. He came into the race off three consecutive sixth-place finishes – never before in his career had he gone three races without getting a piece of the purse. Only once, in 2009, did he go three straight starts without a top-three finish.

For his career, the seven-year-old gelding has won 34 of 94 races and earned $3.58 million. He ranks No. 4 in earnings among all pacers in history and is trying to surpass Gallo Blue Chip’s record of $4.26 million.

“If this [slump] would have happened in the middle of the year, nobody would have noticed it,” said Ron Burke, who trains Canada's Older Pacing Horse of 2010 for owners Country Club Acres, Strollin Stable and William Robinson. “It’s just because it was the beginning of the year and everybody is convinced he’s seven and he’s got two feet in the grave. I really don’t think that’s the case. People forget he never raced at two and he’s never been raced more than 28 starts in a year.”

Won The West, who is trying to join Hall of Famer Rambling Willie as the only pacers to win three consecutive Dan Patch Awards for best older pacer, showed signs he turned the corner despite his sixth-place finish when he came home in :26.3 in the Bettors Delight at Tioga Downs on June 12. He raced on the outside for the entire mile as winner Bettor Sweet set the world record (1:48.1) for an older gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile track.

After the race, driver David Miller told Burke, “He’s back.”

In the Gold Cup, Won The West was in front by nearly six lengths when he reached three-quarters in 1:19.3 -- the fastest three-quarters of a mile in Mohawk Racetrack history. He won by two and three-quarter lengths over favourite Art Professor and reduced the stakes record by a full second and the track record by four-fifths of a second.

“It’s funny; that’s how he’s trained the last couple times he’s trained,” Burke said. “We were more surprised that he was racing not quite the way we thought he should be.”

Burke said “a bunch of little things” contributed to the turnaround. Among them was Burke’s willingness to let Won The West wear a bar shoe in his last two races.

“He was training in it and then I was making him race in his normal shoe,” Burke said. “Maybe I gave in and quit being stubborn.”

Won The West will not be Burke’s lone entry in the Ben Franklin Pace. Expected to join him are Foiled Again and Atochia.

Foiled Again has won seven of 11 races this year, including the Molson Pace and Graduate, and earned $478,300. He has won 51 of 128 career races and earned $2.49 million.

Atochia has two wins in 12 starts this season and $134,180. He has earned $1 million in his career.

“He needs a trip and needs things to work out for him,” Burke said of Atochia. “He almost won this race [the Franklin] last year [finishing third], but he didn’t get through quite in time. Chester is a track that he likes. I still say that one of these days that horse, in spite of himself, is going to win one of these big ones. He has as much talent as any of them.”

Here is a look at the fields for the Ben Franklin Pace eliminations in post position order, with listed drivers and trainers:

Elimination #1

1. Blatantly Good, Tim Tetrick, Mark Kesmodel
2. Urgent Action, Ron Pierce, Richard Silverman
3. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke
4. Aracache Hanover, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair
5. Ideal Matters, Pierce, Noel Daley
6. Gallant Yankee, Tetrick, Mark Ford
7. We Will See, Pierce, Sam DePinto

Elimination #2

1. Atochia, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke
2. Won The West, David Miller, Burke
3. Vintage Master, Dan Dube, Jimmy Takter (defending champion)
4. Pangiorno, George Napolitano Jr., Lou Pena
5. Hypnotic Blue Chip, Dave Palone, Kevin McDermott
6. Giddy Up Lucky, Eric Goodell, Josh Green
7. Bettor Sweet, Brian Sears, Thomas Cancelliere

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

June 23, 2011 - 7:39 amNot all that surprising that

Leonard Doan SAID...

Not all that surprising that he went so fast over that track. The lower end stock on the card was also going quite fast. The puzzling thing is that while Won The West went quickly, the North America Cup went in non descript manner in context to time.

June 23, 2011 - 1:26 amWish we,the betting public

Ward Zinn SAID...

Wish we,the betting public had all this info too from Burke and Miller before the fact.

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