John Burns hopes for another Crown title

05:22 PM 24 Oct 2009 NZDT
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John Burns and JR Spencer Blogette Hanover John Burns & Chris Christoforou in 2002
John Burns and JR Spencer
Blogette Hanover
John Burns & Chris Christoforou in 2002

Blogette Hanover has made up for lost time this year. Unraced as a freshman, the daughter of Allamerican Native-Bikini Hanover has amassed $212,605 this harness racing season under the tutelage of trainer and co-owner John Burns. Most recently, she finished a strong second to Ginger And Fred in a $41,700 Keystone Classic division at the Meadows in 1:53.4 on Oct. 7.

Blogette Hanover's finest effort came when she scored a career best clocking of 1:51.2f in the $112,983 Adioo Volo at The Meadows on Aug. 1. She also scored a solid 1:51.3 victory at Chester in a $60,647 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division, and finished fifth in both the $350,000 Valley Forge at Chester and the $220,034 Simcoe Stake at The Meadows.

Now, she'll face Ginger And Fred and six others when she leaves from post eight in the $710,000 Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Pace on Saturday night at Woodbine.

"Well, there are eight in it and I drew the eight. She will need lots of luck that's for sure," said Burns, who co-owns the bay filly with Peter Berry and John Fielding of Ontario. "If we have good fractions on the front it would help. It would be really great if those front-runners would get a little sleepy on the end of the mile, too. I'm hoping there will be somebody pushing the pace on the front.

"I would say the biggest thing is if we got some pretty good fractions up on the front end - she was very good in the in the Adioo Volo because they went to the three-quarters in 1:20.4 and she won pretty easy enough in 1:51.2. That is what she would need. (Trainer Tracy) Brainard makes it tough when she has three - maybe Kabbalah Karen B isn't as good as the other two but there is nobody in there to push the speed on the front end.

"(Tom) Artandi's horse (Special Sweetheart) could be the one to help me. She won't get away any better than I am but (driver) David (Miller) will have to move her and if I am lucky enough to catch that cover than maybe we get somewhere.

"But hey that's why they call it a horse race and that's why I paid her into it."

Burns believes his filly might just have an advantage in the event of inclement weather Saturday night.

"Blogette has raced in poor weather a number of times before, and she doesn't seem to mind it at all, so she might have an advantage over some horses in that regard," Burns noted.

While he conditions stakes and raceway horses, Burns definitely has a way and preference for fillies.

"With the fillies, there's always an opportunity for them," he stressed. "If they're a top filly, they're going to be in demand as a broodmare, or as an aged pacing mare after their 2- and 3-year-old seasons, so it's really hard to lose with them."

After the Breeders Crown, Blogette Hanover will head to the Standardbred Horse Sale at Harrisburg, Pa., where she'll parade through the auction ring, along with hundreds of other racehorses, yearlings and broodmares.

"She'll make a very tough aged racehorse and a great broodmare one day. The way the money is in New York and Pennsylvania someone will give a good buck for her as a racehorse. With 26 starts in her you know she's sound," Burns noted. "Like I said, you can't go wrong with fillies."

Burns, 60, an Ontario native, has trained horses since he was a mere sprout. He bought his first horse at age 13 for $250 in 1967, an old campaigner named JR Spencer who went on to earn nearly $60,000 for the young wheeler-dealer at Greenwood Racetrack. That photo and other favorites have a place of honor in the Burns tack room, a toasty warm oasis for several napping barn cats.

"I had hair then!" laughed Burn. "And over here is Hardie Hanover at Lexington. I almost didn't put this one up - because it has [the late owner John] Ferguson in it. I miss him to death. It's tough. He was such a great guy and we traveled so much together - all horse related."

Burns trained the top pacing mare Hardie Hanover to a 3-year-old championship season that included a rousing 1:51.4 victory in the 1994 Breeders Crown for sophomore pacing fillies. The daughter of Big Towner went on to earn $718,437 from 23 career wins for Burns.

Burns won another three-year-old filly pace Crown in 2002 at Woodbine with Allamerican Nadia, who beat world champion and heavy favorite Worldly Beauty by a half length in 1:53.

Though he now campaigns primarily on the Ontario circuit, Burns has raced at nearly every track throughout North America during his tenure as a Standardbred conditioner. His 503 career winners have earned $8,123,413.

He also raced Vicki's Carolynne in the 1984 Breeders Crown at Mohawk, and has started more than 20 times over the 26-year span of the series, earning more than $650,000 in purses and two trophies.

"I think the Breeders Crown is great," Burn said. "Any sport that has year-end championship or a series is great. I think it's super for our sport and these are races that people want to race in and be at, in order to see the who's-who of the harness racing industry, both the horses and the people involved in the sport. I like the new idea of having them all at one spot. It's a race that people who don't usually come to the race won't miss.

"People love to see Well Said and Muscle Hill and some of the top horses racing today," Burn added. "It's what makes our sport a great sport, and the Breeders Crown has been a great series that everyone wants to be a part of."

Kim Rinker with Breeders Crown

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