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Will Mission Brief Face Boys Again?

Published: August 20, 2015 9:54 am ET

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When Mission Brief finished second in the Hambletonian and Wild Honey took the Hambletonian Oaks, they solidified their credentials as harness racing’s top three-year-old filly trotters. However, the two didn’t face each other on Hambletonian Day.

They’ll take care of that little omission Friday at The Meadows Racetrack & Casino when they clash in the $174,000 Moni Maker. The event goes as race 3, with first post at 6:55 PM.

Mission Brief long had been considered a candidate to take on males in the Hambletonian, but back problems put those plans on hold for a while. She responded well to medical treatment and turned in a memorable Hambletonian performance, losing to Pinkman by 3/4 lengths.

Ron Burke, who trains the daughter of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena for Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi LLC, said Mission Brief had treatment for her back and went two strong training trips in New Jersey before her mid-week ship to The Meadows.

Mission Brief has only raced over a five-eighths mile track once before. Almost a year ago to the day and in just her sixth lifetime start, Mission Brief made a number of breaks at Tioga Downs in a division of the Kindergarten Series.

Although Burke is based at The Meadows, Mission Brief has followed the Grand Circuit throughout her career and will be making her first lifetime start at the Pennsylvania oval, perhaps erasing some of the home-track advantage.

“I trained her here for about a month earlier in the year, so I know she gets around this track well,” Burke said. “She’s very comfortable here.”

He said he’ll likely continue to race Mission Brief, whose Hambletonian check made her a millionaire, against fillies but that he’ll play that by ear.

“It would be a hard push for me to get everyone on board to do it (race against males) again, but I wouldn't rule it out,” he said.

Wild Honey, the 2014 Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion who has won several times at The Meadows, has been a model of speed and consistency, winning 13 of 19 lifetime starts and $838,488. Trainer Jimmy Takter said he expects more of the same from the daughter of Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy.

“I think we’ll give Mission Brief a run for the money,” Takter said. “You cannot beat that filly (Mission Brief) on the bigger tracks, so it depends how she gets over The Meadows’ surface.”

In addition to the battle between Mission Brief and Wild Honey, the Moni Maker is yet another round in the long-running Burke versus Takter series; only one of the six fillies in the field, Mickey Peterson’s Sistas, is conditioned by someone other than Burke or Takter, arguably the two most successful in the sport in recent years.

The Moni Maker also features round two of Gingras versus Gingras, as Yannick Gingras, regular driver of Mission Brief and frequent driver of Wild Honey, was forced to choose between them, just as he had to pick between Mission Brief and Pinkman for the Hambletonian. For the Moni Maker, he’s sticking with Mission Brief.

“It’s a great problem to have,” Gingras said. “I picked Mission Brief over Jimmy’s best colt, so this wasn’t a tough call, even though it stinks because I love Wild Honey. She’s a sweetheart. I think I only lost once with her. Obviously, Mission Brief is special.”

Mission Brief and Gingras will leave from post 4 while Wild Honey and Dave Palone go from post 3. The complete Moni Maker field, in post position order with drivers, trainers and morning line odds:

1. Sistas, Eric Goodell, Mickey Peterson, 3-1
2. Im So Fancy, Tony Hall, Ron Burke, 10-1
3. Wild Honey, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 5-2
4. Mission Brief, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 8-5
5. Smexi, Dan Rawlings, Jimmy Takter, 5-1
6. Gatka Hanover, Mike Wilder, Ron Burke, 12-1


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