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Burke On First Gold Cup & Saucer

Published: August 15, 2013 10:33 am ET

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On a day that his stable's horses went a combined 0-for-16, Ron Burke was taking nothing for granted given his two impressive Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer trial winners heading into Saturday's final.

Burke, North America's leading trainer, sent Escape The News and Hillbilly Hanover to Prince Edward Island with Ron's father, Mickey, who is handling the training duties. The four-year-olds are Burke's first entrants in Canada's most exciting half-mile race although the Gold Cup & Saucer has been on his radar for quite some time.

"We've been wanting to do it. We were going to do it last year but my father broke his leg, and my dad's always wanted to do it...he's always wanted to go down there," Burke told Trot Insider on Tuesday. "So finally this year he's healthy and feels good so I was like "yeah, OK, we'll send them out."

How is the 77-year-old Burke enjoying Canada's East Coast and Old Home Week?

"It's everything he thought it would be and better,"said Ron. "I want to go so bad too, it would be an awesome of these years, I will make it."

Burke won't be able to attend the Gold Cup & Saucer himself as he'll be with his horses at Mohegan Sun Pocono Downs for the Super Stakes Saturday card. He'll watch from Pennsylvania as his horses line up from opposite ends of the Charlottetown Driving Park starting gate as the top two morning line choices.

Hillbilly Hanover had the luck of the draw on his side, and will leave from Post 3 for Gilles Barrieau as the 5-2 morning line choice. Hillbilly Hanover was an open length 1:51.4 winner in Trial #2 on Sunday.

"I knew 'Hillbilly' would be good. He's been racing very, very good...he's just coming into his own. I thought by the end of the year he'd move into the top three or four of the horses I have."

Not so fortunate was Escape The News, who will leave from Post 7 for driver Marc Campbell. Oddsmakers have inserted Escape The News as the 3-1 second choice after his 1:52.2 Trial #1 win over Up The Credit.

"The other horse [Escape The News] had kind of been on a bit of a down streak and may have caught the toughest division so I was very happy with him."

Burke got a look first-hand as to why Marc Campbell and Gilles Barrieau are two of the top drivers in the Maritimes when they each guided a Burke trainee to victory.

"They know what they're doing and they seem like good guys, too."

Even with horses in the hands of two past O'Brien Award winners and a National Driving Champion, Burke knows that his horses still have their cut out for them on Saturday come 11:58 p.m.

"It's not going to be a walkover by any means," noted Burke. "Proven Lover went an amazing trip."

The field for the 54th edition of the Gold Cup & Saucer is as follows:

2013 Sobey's Gold Cup & Saucer - Purse: $60,000

1. Up The Credit -- C. Jamieson - C. Jamieson - 7-2
2. Machs Beach Boy -- Ja. MacDonald - B. Shakes - 4-1
3. Hillbilly Hanover -- G. Barrieau - R. Burke - 5-2
4. R Caan -- J. Ryan - R. Allard - 6-1
5. Lulus Boy -- W. Cheverie - R. MacDonald - 12-1
6. Proven Lover -- J. Holmes - T. Mann - 10-1
7. Escape The News -- Ma. Campbell - R. Burke - 3-1
8. Savannah Splendor -- J. Drury - R. Van Meer - 15-1
9. Smokin Bear -- A. MacDonald - W. Preszcator - 8-1

To view the full card of entries for Saturday night's card, click the following link: Saturday Evening Entries - Red Shores Charlottetown.

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