Keeping Up With The Joneses

Published: May 17, 2019 03:02 pm EDT

When Purnel Jones Jr. and his wife Libby were looking to partner with other people to buy horses several years ago, Jones called renowned owner Mark Weaver for advice. Instead, Jones ended up with an invitation. Life has not been the same since.

Purnel and Libby, who at the time were recently retired after selling their regional oil-and-gas business, were asked if they wanted to join the ownership groups involved with horses trained by Ron Burke, harness racing’s leading conditioner for the past 10 years in a row. Burke Racing and Weaver, with his longtime racing colleague Mike Bruscemi, are two-time winners of the sport’s Owner of the Year Award.

“The first thing I thought of when we were fortunate enough to retire was how I could get back into the business,” said Purnel, who followed his father into the sport and had a license to train and drive horses before stepping away from racing to focus on business.

“I called Mark Weaver, who I’ve known for about 10 years, to ask him to point me in the right direction. He said there was a spot opening up in the ownership group and that I was welcomed if I wanted to get in. It was a no-brainer for me. My goodness gracious, you can’t beat those guys. They’re smart. It’s not by accident that Burke and Weaver are so successful, that I can say.”

In 2018, the Joneses were among the owners of Dorsoduro Hanover and Warrawee Ubeaut, who both were Breeders Crown champions and divisional Dan Patch Award honourees, as well as a third Breeders Crown winner, Percy Bluechip, and stakes-winners Baron Remy and This Is The Plan.

“I can’t even imagine having a year like that again,” Purnel said. “You talk about fun and traveling to the races, it was fantastic. I’m hoping for continued success, but to hope for that (kind of success again) is a little excessive. But you can’t rule out anything with Ronnie. He has a great eye for the horses.”

On Sunday, the Joneses will watch three of their horses compete in the $188,500 Confederation Cup for four-year-old pacers at Flamboro Downs. Dorsoduro Hanover and Done Well were elimination winners last weekend. Those two Burke trainees are joined by stablemate This Is The Plan in the nine-horse field.

Done Well and driver Dexter Dunn, who captured their elim in 1:51.4 over a sloppy surface, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite from post five while Dorsoduro Hanover, with regular driver Matt Kakaley, is the 5-2 second choice from post one. Dorsoduro Hanover won his elimination, also over a sloppy track, in 1:53.4.

The other owners on Done Well are Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva, and Wingfield Brothers. The group owning Dorsoduro Hanover is the same, with the exception of Wingfield Five rather than Wingfield Brothers. This Is The Plan, who finished fifth in his elimination and starts from post eight, is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Larry Karr.

“I thought Done Well was off the hook,” Purnel said. “I don’t know how much the track changed between the time he raced and Dorsoduro Hanover raced, but you certainly can’t be disappointed with (Dorsoduro Hanover’s) race either. He’s as tough as nails.

“We’re all excited to see what happens.”

Among the Burke trio’s competition is Jimmy Freight, who earned the O’Brien Award in Canada for last year’s best three-year-old male pacer. He finished fourth in the elimination won by Dorsoduro Hanover after starting from post eight, a spot that has produced only four winners in 185 pacing races this year.

Jimmy Freight and driver Louis-Philippe Roy will start Sunday from post two. He is 3-1 on the morning line.

“I wasn’t that much excited when I saw the draw for the elims, being in my mind in the toughest division and starting from the far outside, but one more time Jimmy didn’t disappoint,” Roy said. “I’m a little more excited about the draw for the final, I think we’re among the three or four horses with the best shot to win.

“I haven’t seen much difference with (Jimmy Freight) between (ages) three and four,” the driver added. “He was and still is the perfect horse on the track, you can do whatever you want with him, smart and perfectly gaited.”

Racing begins at 6:55 p.m. Sunday at Flamboro Downs. Following is the field for the Confederation Cup, which is race the tenth race on Sunday.

Confederation Cup (Final)
(PP - Horse - Driver - Trainer - Odds)
1 - Dorsoduro Hanover - M. Kakaley - R. Burke - 5-2
2 - Jimmy Freight - L. Roy - R. Moreau - 3-1
3 - Pretty Handsome - J. Drury - A. McCabe - 15-1
4 - American History - S. Filion - T. Alagna - 12-1
5 - Done Well - D. Dunn - R. Burke - 7-5
6 - The Downtown Bus - D. McNair - J. Gillis - 7-1
7 - Rockin Speed - B. Davis - J. Seekman - 15-1
8 - This Is The Plan - J. Bongiorno - R. Burke - 20-1
9 - Ghost Dance - Ra. Waples - N. Gallucci - 4-1
AE1 - Courtly Choice

The Confederation Cup Final will be streamed live on the Standardbred Canada website, the first of three races sponsored by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association that will also be streamed on Facebook Live.

The one-hour broadcast, part of a three-race series sponsored by the Central Ontario Standardbred Association (COSA), will cover the $188,500 Confederation Cup along with the ninth race which is a $23,150 Ontario Sires Stakes Grassroots division for three-year-old filly pacers.

Mark McKelvie and Greg Blanchard will be on the desk while Jaimi MacDonald will provide paddock coverage during the show which will be aired via the Flamboro Downs, Grand River Raceway and Raceway at Western Fair District Facebook pages and streamed over the Standardbred Canada website.

To view the harness racing entries for Sunday at Flamboro, click the following link: Sunday Entries – Flamboro Downs.

(with files from USTA)

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