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Burke On Quillen Starters

Published: September 15, 2010 7:24 pm ET

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The Ron Burke Stable sends out two power hitters in Monday’s $354,000 Bobby Quillen Memorial for older pacers at Harrington Raceway in Delaware. They are track-record-holder Foiled Again and defending Quillen champion Won The West.

Six-year-old Foiled Again won the fastest of two elimination races held September 13; indeed, the fastest mile by any horse of any age at Harrington. He won in 1:50.3, shaving one-fifth of a second off Spirit Of A Shark’s track record set in 2006, to defeat both Clear Vision and Blueridge Western by one length. Solano was fourth to also advance to the final.

It was the first win since June 20 for Foiled Again, who has six victories in 18 starts this year and just over $500,000. Burke thinks Foiled Again’s winless streak was just a case of extended bad luck.

“For a horse that really has never had much bad luck at all, he just seemingly had a run of bad luck,” Burke said. “He was parked two or three times, he was locked in at the Meadowlands and things just weren’t working out for him. The switch back to the half [at Harrington] and the rail, usually it’s pretty hard to get around him.”

Burke says that while Foiled Again has had a consistently positive attitude, the run of seven starts with no wins had an effect.

“I think a little bit, he’s been shaken up,” admitted Burke. “Maybe he’s not quite as confident as he was going in years past. But as soon as he got back to the tracks he likes the best, we weren’t even that impressed with him [Monday]. As dumb as it sounds, I’ve seen him be better. This sounds stupid and it’s an all-age track record, the fastest horse to ever go around there, so how bad could it be?

“As a group, the trainers and drivers, we’re all pretty realistic and sometimes people perceive a horse as racing pretty good, we know the horse could have been better. Three starts ago at the Haughton we were disappointed [Foiled Again finished seventh]. Three starts before, he had pace at the Franklin [at Chester], but he spent the mile outside, so it’s not like he’s been bad. Everything that could possibly go wrong has gone wrong. Maybe all those miles have taken a little bit of a toll on him. I’m glad he won, but by the same token, when he’s sharp, he’s more aggressive than that. Hopefully he’ll bounce back and be a little more aggressive and draw in a good spot and get going again.”

Burke was asked about the assessment by fellow open pacer Shark Gesture’s trainer, Larry Remmen, that Won The West might be the horse to beat in this division at year’s end. Won The West was second to Hypnotic Blue Chip in the other Quillen elim, beaten by a half length in 1:51.3.

“It depends on what track you’re on,” Burke said. “West is maybe the most versatile of them. But Shark Gesture and Hypnotic Blue Chip are both vicious good horses. It just makes it into a good race. A lot of it now is based on who draws better than another one and which track you’re on and which style does that favour.

“Year in and year out, I’ll take West over anyone because he can go over any size track. Shark Gesture is better than him at the Meadowlands, but we’re not that far back. West is better than either of them on a half and equal on a five-eighths, so to me I’ll always take West. Shark Gesture, I’ll say, has maybe the biggest heart of all three and he’ll take the biggest punishment of any of them. It’s a great group.”

Won The West has won five of 14 races this year and earned $946,500. His wins include the $780,000 Canadian Pacing Derby and $312,000 Molson Pace. He has not finished worse than third in any start. The six-year-old was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner as best older male pacer and has earned $3.08 million in his career.

Shark Gesture, who is the No. 1-ranked horse in harness racing’s weekly Top 10 poll, was not entered in the Quillen.

Hypnotic Blue Chip, who has won seven of 21 races and earned $728,685 this season, was the first-ever supplemental entry ($25,000) in the Quillen’s four-year history.

Here is a look at the field in alphabetical order for Monday’s Bobby Quillen Memorial: Blueridge Western, Clear Vision, Foiled Again, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Mr Wiggles, Pangiorno, Solano, and Won The West.


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

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