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Burke Celebrates 10,000th Career Win

Published: July 26, 2019 10:30 pm ET

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After collecting multiple wins earlier in the evening across Yonkers Raceway, The Meadows and Scioto Downs, trainer Ron Burke celebrated his 10,000th career victory during the elimination round for Hambletonian Day’s James Doherty and Peter Haughton Memorial Stakes on Friday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

With the victory, Burke becomes the first trainer in harness racing history to reach the 10,000-win plateau.

“It’s cool,” said Burke. “The next guy is probably 10 years away from doing it. It’s never been done before and I’m very proud of our whole crew, my whole family.”

The resident of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania was also the first trainer to surpass $200 million in earnings, win more than 1,000 races in a single season (achieved in 2013, 2014 and 2018), and win more than $20 million in a single season (accomplished in 2013 through 2018).

“It all started when my dad sold the family business selling cars in 1981. We had two horses then. Now, I have about 300 and about 70 people on my staff,” said Burke. “I became the face of Burke Racing 11 years ago. There are so many of us. I put a lot of time into it but I could not have done it by myself. I thought by now I’d slow down, but I don’t have any feel for when that will happen. I love what I’m doing, I love racing and the sport seems to be doing well.

“Ten years ago, I wasn’t so sure we’d get here, but five years ago, maybe I thought we’d get to this point,” he said. “We were just starting to take off then, and the addition of (owner) Mark Weaver made a big difference. It gave us someone who acquires horses all day, every day. We used to sit together at the Meadows and watch races and we could tell we were pretty good together and we wanted to go to the next level.”

Burke reached the outstanding milestone mark in the seventh race when his two-year-old trotting filly Crucial ($6) prevailed in the evening's third $20,000 Doherty elimination.

The Father Patrick-Jolene Jolene filly swept from third to first after the :27.3 opening quarter and was rated through middle splits of :57.4 and 1:27.4 by Yannick Gingras en route to the 1-1/4-length victory in 1:54.3. Early leader Sherry Lyns Lady, the 3-5 favourite, followed in second with Queen Of The Hill finishing third and Bayou fourth.

After kicking off her career with a Pennsylvania Sires Stakes victory at Harrah's Philadelphia last week, Crucial is now two-for-two. A $200,000 yearling purchase in Lexington, she is owned by Burke Racing Stable, W.J. Donovan, Jandt Silva Purnel & Libb, and, of course, Weaver Bruscemi.

The top three finishers from each elimination plus one of the fourth-place finisher will advance to the $350,000 Doherty final.

Undefeated two-year-old trotting filly Hypnotic Am ($2.60) notched her third career win with a 1:53.3 career-best mile in the first and fastest Doherty elimination for driver Brian Sears and trainer Marcus Melander.

Hypnotic Am, the 3-5 favourite, left from the outside post eight and was four-deep into the first turn before settling into the four-hole. Meanwhile, Hello Tomorrow worked her way to the top by the :28.2 quarter mark ahead of insider Dune Hill, with Ms Savannah Belle following in third.

Hello Tomorrow led the field of eight in single-file alignment through a half clocked in :57.3 before Ms Savannah Belle tipped first-up with Hypnotic Am tracking her cover.

Hello Tomorrow kept Ms Savannah Belle at bay through three-quarters in 1:26.2 and was still clear at the top of the stretch, but Hypnotic Am came flying late on the outside with :26.4 closing speed and nosed out the pacesetter in a win photo. Ms Savannah Belle finished between the top two, closing within a half-length. Dune Hill checked in fourth.

Hypnotic Am, a homebred daughter of Chapter Seven out of Daydream AM S, entered the elimination with a pair of New York Sire Stakes victories already under her belt. She is now three-for-three for owner Courant Inc.

Solsbury Hill ($20.30) pulled off a 9-1 upset with a 1:55.3 maiden-breaking effort in the second elimination with Scott Zeron in the sulky for trainer Andrew Harris.

Solsbury Hill enjoyed a ground-saving trip in fourth-place before emerging off the pylons down the stretch and gliding by the front-stepping Panem to win by three-quarters of a length in her fourth career start.

The wide-leaving Panem had made a dash to the lead down the backstretch overtaking Word Of Honor after a :28.1 quarter and posted subsequent splits of :58.3 and 1:27.2 before settling for place. Word Of Honor finished third with the favoured Sans Defaut fourth after closing off cover.

Solsbury Hill is another Doherty winner for W.J. Donovan, who co-owns with Howard Taylor and Rojan Stables. The Muscle Hill-Emmylou Who filly, who is a half-sister to Canada’s reigning Older Trotting Mare of the Year Emoticon Hanover, was a $120,000 yearling purchase in Harrisburg.

Synergy ($6.20) kicked off the Haughton eliminations for two-year-old male trotters by scoring a 1:54.4 victory to improve his record to two-for-two heading into the $450,000 final.

Per Engblom trains the Father Patrick colt, who is out of Federal Flex’s full-sister Southwind Sauna, for Canadian residents David Anderson of Aurora, Ont, and John Fielding of Toronto, who co-own with partners Herb Liverman of Miami Beach, Florida and the Kentucky-based Brittany Farms.

With just two $20,000 eliminations for the Haughton, the top five finishers from each will move on.

Synergy was on the move early and swept to command ahead of 9-5 favourite Stay Close just past the :27.4 quarter mark. He led the rest of the way while clocking a half in :57.3 and three-quarters in 1:27.1 before hitting the finish line with a 1-1/2 length advantage. Stay Close stayed for second with Capricornus closing for third while Expectations and Ontopofthehill completed the top five.

Synergy, who was a $275,000 Lexington Select Sale yearling, opened his career with a win in the first leg of the Kindergarten Classic Series two weeks ago.

Fashion Farms' popular homebred Real Cool Sam ($2.50) kept his perfect record in tact in the second Haughton elimination by posting a career-best 1:54.1 victory in his fourth start.

With David Miller in the bike for trainer Jim Campbell, the Muscle Hill-Cooler Schooner gelding overcame his outside post nine starting spot as he made front by the :56.4 half-mile mark, taking over from eventual stretch breaker Legion Of Honor. Real Cool Sam then kept clear of the first-up Back Of The Neck, who was edged out for the runner-up honours finishing just over a length behind the winner when Rome Pays Off shook loose down the lane. Hellbent For Am S and Dublin finished fourth and fifth.

Real Cool Sam had earned his prior victories in Pennsylvania, with his most recent on July 16 in a Sires Stakes event.

It was an action-packed Friday night at the Meadowlands that included a world record performance by Eurobond in a $16,000 conditioned trot.

Trained by Julie Miller and driven by Andy Miller, Eurobond equalled Chapter Seven's 1:50.1 record for a four-year-old trotting horse on a mile track that was established in 2012.

The Love You-True Diva son is owned by breeder Lindy Farms Of Conn and Robert Rudolph. Eurobond, who was a Kentucky Sires Stakes champion in his sophomore year, now have five career wins from 31 starts and earnings amounting to $222,655.

Another highlight on the night was five-year-old millionairess Caviart Ally's 1:48.2 score in the $30,000 Fillies & Mares Preferred Handicap Pace as she held off Seaswift Joy N by a neck for driver Andrew McCarthy trainer Brett Pelling.

(With quotes from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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