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In harness racing the cream always rises to the top and it doesn't matter weather it is the racehorses, sires, trainers or drivers the result is always the same. However with success in this sport comes the snide remarks and the innuendo especially when it concerns trainers. We are always amazed at the "tall poppy" syndrome that exists in this sport. Other sports put their high achievers up on a pedestal and admire what they have achieved. In harness racing the more successful a trainer is the more likely a lot of their fellow trainers will call them cheats or drug users. Ron Burke is one trainer that seems to cop it a lot in our opinion and we are planning a more in depth article on this subject in the near future. Until then enjoy this interview with Ron Burke prior to the season's debut of Mission Brief in which he once again answers his critics.  Harnesslink Media

Mission Brief returned to the races at Friday nights harness racing meeting at The Meadowlands where we expected to see her, in the winners circle. The fastest two year old trotter of all time made short work of her Sire Stakes competition in the lone $25,000 division for the filly trotters, winning in 1:53.4. The World Champion took off the speed early in the mile, but made a controlled move to the lead and cleared before the half-mile pole through fractions of 27.3 and 56.2. She led the field past three quarters in 1:25.3 and turned for home with a two length lead. Mission Brief drifted a touch in the stretch, but finished the mile well within herself while never being asked by her driver Yannick Gingras. It is worth noting that shortly after the finish, Mission Brief appeared to bobble and went off-stride, but she remained on-stride until the teletimer stopped. Her driver Yannick Gingras was pleased with her effort. "She had a ton of trot," said Gingras. "She went in 1:53.4 and it was a walk in the park for her. We still have some work to do before the second Saturday in August but she is on the right track." Mission Brief became the fastest two year old trotter of all time when she romped to a 1:50.3 performance at The Red Mile last year. She is conditioned by Ron Burke and owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J & T Silva Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. With the victory, Mission Brief's career earnings surpassed $600,000. On the colt-side of the Sire Stakes action, Guess Whos Back put forth a performance worth of his name, with a dominant 1:54 score in the first of two New Jersey Sire Stakes divisions for the three year old trotting colts. Sent off as the slight favorite over Canepa Hanover (both were 4/5), Guess Whos Back settled off the speed through the first quarter of a mile, before making a power move to the lead down the backstretch for Brian Sears. The Muscles Yankee colt would clear the top with ease, hitting the half-mile in just 58.1. He would face no pressure from that point of the mile all the way to the wire, sailing past three-quarters in 1:27, before leveling out in the stretch and drawing clear to a convincing 1:54 triumph. As a two year old, Guess Whos Back won the New Jersey Sire Stakes Championship at The Meadowlands en route to earning $92,350 for Nikolas Drennan. Drennan expressed delight with how his Hambletonian hopeful performed. "Overall I was very happy with him," said Drennan. "It looked like he got a little steppy on the first turn, so we may make a few small changes going forward. But I was happy with him." Guess Whos Back sent his earnings past $100,000 with the winners share of $20,000 purse. He is owned by Davino, Shackman, T L P Stable and J&T Silva Stables. The other division for the sophomore colts pitted an intriguing matchup of Muscle Diamond and French Laundry. That pair finished second and third respectively in the Breeders Crown last year. Muscle Diamond was sent off as the 4/5 favorite with French Laundry the 3/2 second choice. The latter established the lead early on and took the Sire Stakes field through fractions of 28, 57.3 and 1:26.2. Muscle Diamond sat along the pylons in third, tracking the early speed and was guided off the pylons in the stretch and showed dramatic acceleration. However, nearing the wire, Muscle Diamond lost his momentum while getting a little steppy, seemingly because he was trotting so fast in the stretch and French Laundry was able to hold on for the win in 1:53.1. Both colts were very imopressive in their three year old debuts. French Laundry added to his lifetime earnings, which now stand at $323,119 for Jimmy Takter. Brett Miller drove the talented colt for Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding Al Libfield and Marvin Katz. There were some new faces that comprised the talented field in the $30,000 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace, but the result was one that we have come to know well. Radar Contact, who has not been worse than second since February 6th, was the 6/5 favorite and she would dictate the terms after wrestling the lead away from Inittowinafortune, who reached the opening quarter in a sharp 26.2. From there, Radar Contact would clear the lead and reached the half-mile in 55.2 with Inittowinafortune close behind in the pocket, a scenario we have seen week in and week out at The Meadowlands. These two mares remained that way through three quarters in 1:23.1 and the two sprinted away from the field, but this time Inittowinafortune was able to chase down Radar Contact to score in 1:49.4, a lifetime best effort. Radar Contact was a clear second with Jerseylicious third. The winner was one of two on the card for trainer Michael Russo, who conditioned the mare for Michael Pagonas. Scott Zeron was in the sulky. The fifth race Jackpot Super Hi-5 went unclaimed and the Jackpot swelled to $118,474 for the Saturday program. The last race Jackpot Super Hi-5 also carried over again, with that carryover pool now standing at $91,803. Total handle for the 12-race Friday card was $2,773,591. That marked a 15-percent increase from the same day in 2014 despite one less race. The on-track handle yielded a 20-percent gain as well. Saturday night features the $183,650 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, where Bee A Magician will attempt to become the first mare in the 17-year history of the race to emerge victorious. Also on the program is New Jersey Sire Stakes action for the three year old pacers, both colts and fillies. Last year's two year old pacing champion Artspeak will headline one of two divisions for the colts and geldings. There is a $50,000 TVG Invitational on the program as well. Post time for the Saturday program is 7:15 P.M.   Darin Zoccali  

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ (May 13, 2015) - "She is her own woman, that is for sure," said harness racing trainer Ron Burke as he described his brilliantly fast, yet quirky world champion Mission Brief. Last year's champion two-year-old trotting filly, who set the world record of 1:50.3 at The Red Mile, makes her official three-year-old debut Friday (May 15) in the opening leg of the New Jersey Sire Stakes at the Meadowlands. Mission Brief earned $591,070 last year in nine wins including a season-ending victory in the Breeders Crown. She also broke stride in four races. "I have told the other owners that with this horse, the highs will be really high and the lows will be horrible," said Burke. "With her, I'm holding my breath and maybe getting ready to drive to the George Washington Bridge." Mission Brief made a break in her first qualifier on May 1, a miscue that Burke attributes to a shoeing change that the temperamental filly did not like. She stayed trotting in her second qualifier a week later, a victory in 1:56.2. "I tried to shoe her a little more aggressively like I shoe most of my other good trotters and she just didn't take to it so we switched her shoes back to how we had them last year," explained Burke. Mission Brief, owned by Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva Stables, and Weaver Bruscemi, faces nine other rivals in Friday's New Jersey Sire Stakes, which is carded as race eleven on the twelve-race card. Yannick Gingras will take his usual seat behind the daughter of Muscle Hill. She is the 3-5 morning line favorite and carries career earnings higher than the rest of her nine rivals combined. "She was great training this week and maybe she is just waiting for us to get aggressive with her," said Burke. "It seems that the hardest quarters for her are when she has to go medium speed. She can easily warm up in 35 second quarters and can go those big 27 second quarters in a race, but it's going that in-between-speed that seems to be the hardest." The Meadowlands will also host a pair of divisions in the New Jersey Sire Stakes for three-year-old male trotters. The first division, carded as race two, is headlined by last year's Sire Stakes champion, Guess Whos Back, and emerging Hambletonian contender Canepa Hanover, driven and trained by last year's Hambletonian winner, Jimmy Takter. The second division goes as race four and features Muscle Diamond and Takter's French Laundry, second and third, respectively, in last year's Breeders Crown. Friday's card also features a pair of growing carryovers in the Jackpot Super High 5 wagers. The fifth race carryover has grown to $112,844 and the twelfth race carryover sits at $87.837. Rachel Ryan

Cowgirl Hall ended an uncharacteristically long drought when she captured Tuesday’s $18,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life Handicap Trot at The Meadows.   Cowgirl Hall won 16 times in 2014, but she’d been without a victory in five starts since March 17, a stretch that included top fields in The Meadows Maturity and the Miami Valley Distaff.   But she was sharp Monday, quarter-poling to the lead for Dave Palone and scoring in 1:54.3.   Whata Donato was a length back in second, with the first-over Kandian Klub third.   Ron Burke trains Cowgirl Hall, a 6-year-old daughter of Cash Hall-Centerfold Hall who now boasts $688,868 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Jack Piatt III and Michael Rosenthal.   Palone piloted three winners on the 13-race card, lifting his career total to 16,999.   He has11 scheduled assignments Wednesday, when the program begins at 12:55 PM.   Evan Pattak

All Bets Off and Lets Drink On It scored impressive victories Sunday night at the harness racing meeting at Flamboro Downs in the eliminations for the Confederation Cup. A group of 16 four-year-old pacers were split into two $20,000 eliminations to determine the field for next Sunday's $226,575 Confederation Cup. The top four finishers from each elimination Sunday, plus one fifth-place finisher drawn by lot, qualified for the final. In the first elimination, All Bets Off established a new Flamboro Downs track record with a dominant 1:50.4 victory. Driven by Yannick Gingras, All Bets Off sprinted off the wings of the gate to hook up with Three Of Clubs in an early battle for the front. After being parked past the opening-quarter in :26.2, All Bets Off overtook the lead and cruised by the midway point in :55.1. National Debt came first up from third to challenge the leader, but All Bets Off turned aside the pressure and began to extend his lead at the three-quarter pole in 1:23. All Bets Off paced away from his competition in the final-quarter to score a 3 ½ length victory in 1:50.4. Bettorever, who was seventh at three-quarter pole, was able to split his way between rivals on the final turn to finish second, while National Debt and Big Boy Dreams finished third and fourth, securing spots in the final. All Bets Off clocking of 1:50.4 set a new track record for an aged pacer, shaving a fifth of a second off of the previous mark of 1:51 set in 2007 by Rare Jewel. A son of Bettors Delight, All Bets Off is trained by Ron Burke for the ownership group of Burke Racing Stable LLC, Frank Baldachino, The Panhellenic Stb Corp and the Estate of Rosemary J Shelswell. Last year's Messenger Stakes winner, All Bets Off elimination victory was his first in two starts this season. The Burke trainee now has 16 career victories and earnings of over $1.1 million. All Bets Off returned $3.80 to win. Lets Drink On It got a perfect second-over to trip to score an impressive five-length victory in the second elimination. Trained by Joe Seekman, Lets Drink On It was scheduled to be driven by Tyler Smith, but a late driver change saw Billy Davis Jr. pick up and make the most of a live drive. Lets Drink On It got away sixth in the early stages, as Limelight Beach hustled out to the lead and posted an opening-quarter of :26.1. Heading to the half, Davis moved Lets Drink On It to the outside and was able to pick up the cover of Ideal Cowboy, who came out from third to challenge first up. Limelight Beach and Ideal Cowboy went toe-to-toe by the half in :54.1 and three-quarter pole in 1:22.3, while Lets Drink On It sat comfortably second-over. Davis sent Lets Drink On It three-wide at the three-quarter pole to sweep around the leaders and the Seekman trainee responded by pacing off to an easy five-length victory in 1:51.4. Somewhere Fancy came on late to finish second, while Ideal Cowboy and Limelight Beach qualified for the final by finishing third and fourth, respectively. A son of Art Official, Lets Drink On It now has two wins in four starts to start his four-year-old season. He is owned by Tina Seekman, Larry Bond, Hal Hewitt and Vincent Boido Jr. Sunday's elimination victory gives Lets Drink On It 15 career wins and pushes his bankroll over $630,000. A $2 win ticket on Lets Drink On It returned $10.70. A draw was held following the eliminations to determine which fifth-place finisher, Mattamerican or Nirvana Seelster, qualified for the final. Nirvana Seelster won the draw to qualify for the final, while Mattamerican will be the also eligible. The post position draw for the Confederation Cup final will take place Wednesday afternoon and will be broadcast live on CHCH News at Noon. The $226,575 Confederation Cup final will be contested next Sunday (May 17) evening. Post time for the Confederation Cup card at Flamboro Downs is 6 p.m. Mark McKelvie

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, May 9, 2015--Wagering choices Luminosity (George Brennan, $4.90) and Michael's Power (Dan Dube, $5.50) both went down the road Saturday night, winning Yonkers Raceway's co-featured harness racing $42,000 Open Handicaps. Luminosity, from post position No. 7 in the weekly marquee trot, eschewed an early seat. He drove past Il Mago (Dube) just after a :27.4 opening quarter-mile. From there, a :56.3 intermission, then back-half markers of 1:25.2 and 1:54.1...the latter making it the fastest local trot mile of the season. Season-debuting Obrigado (Mark MacDonald) rallied into second--beaten a length-and-quarter--from an assigned eight-hole (at 37-1), with Il Mago third. Dewycolorintheline (Jordan Stratton) and A Cool Million (Eric Carlson) rounded out the payees. For Luminosity , a 5-year-old Cash Hall gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was his fifth win in 14 seasonal starts. The exacta paid $117, the triple returned $589 and the superfecta paid $1,858. The week's featured pace Michael's Power, from post No. 8, held off Sapphire City (MacDonald) by a short nostril in a two-speed number (:27, :56.1, 1:24.4, 1:53). Third went a late-arriving The Real One (Pat Lachance), with Duel in the Sun (Brennan) and Big N Bad (Brian Sears) settling for the remainder. The first six finishers were separated by a length-and-a-half. For Michael's Power, a 6-year-old homebred Camluck gelding bred/owned by Jeff Snyder and trained by Mark Silva, it was his sixth win in 13 '15 tries. The exacta (two wagering favorites) paid $18.20, with the triple returning $47.60. Special Saturday props to Moonliteonthebeach (Bartlett, $7.20), whose 1:51.1 win in the $25,000, 10th-race pace matched Domethatagain's fastest Westchester pacing mile of the season. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM). After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), Tuesday (1 PM, second round of the Jackpot Next Door Claiming Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

With The Championship Meet upon us, The harness racing Grand Circuit took center stage on Friday night at The Meadowlands. The three year old filly pacers contested the $43,106 W.N. Reynolds Memorial. On paper it was a very competitive field of seven and it played out that way on the racetrack. Bettor Be Steppin, sent off as a very slight 8/5 favorite would dictate the terms establishing a tempo of 27, 55.4 and 1:24. She turned for home with the 9/5 second choice, Happiness right on her back. Bedroomconfessions was grinding away first over, with Divine Caroline riding her cover. With just an eighth of a mile to go, these four fillies lined up across the track. Happiness found room at the pylons and sprinted through to the tune of a 26.3 final quarter to win going away in the end. Divine Caroline rallied off cover to finish up second with Bedroomconfessions third. Happiness was driven to victory by Yannick Gingras for Ron Burke who co-owns the filly with Weaver Bruscemi L.L.C. The 1:50.3 clocking was a lifetime mark for the three year old daughter of Rocknroll Hanover. The $39,816 John Simpson Memorial for three year old filly trotters was also a part of the Grand Circuit action on Friday night. Riley's Dream was bet down to 3/5 favoritism, but she would find herself locked in throughout the first three-quarters of a mile as Shaqline never found the pylons and remained parked out outside Riley's Dream throughout. In the meantime, Rules Of The Road showed tremendous early speed for Dave Miller as she reeled off fractions of 27.1, 56.1 and 1:25.1 while trotting unopposed on the lead throughout the mile. Turning for home, Rules Of The Road kicked away from the field and she was never threatened, winning in 1:54. The win was one of four on the night for Dave Miller and the winner is eligible to The Hambletonian Oaks for trainer Janice Connor who co-owns the filly with Arden Homestead Stable. A field of six top mares went to the gate in the $27,500 Fillies and Mares Open Handicap Pace. Sayitall BB was the aggressor moving to the front and leading the charge around the track, reaching the half-mile in 55.4 and three-quarters in 1:24.3. The Breeders Crown winner turned for home with the lead, but the field began to close in. With mares coming from anywhere, the mare coming fastest of all was the one closing from last, Weeper. She appeared on the far left of the screen and sprinted home to a sub-26 second final quarter to win. Weeper was driven by Brett Miller for Jimmy Takter and owners Bay Pond Racing Stable. Weeper is eligible to all the major stakes for the mare pacers at The Meadowlands, including the TVG Championships. Jerseylicious returned a winner on Friday night at The Meadowlands, winning an upper level condition event for fillies and mares pacers. Sent off as the overwhelming 1/5 favorite Jerseylicious secured a pocket trip behind the speedy That Woman Hanover. But Dave Miller decided it was time to move with three-eighths of a mile to go and he pulled the pocket with Jerseylicious, securing the lead prior to the three quarter pole. From there, the five year old daughter of Western Ideal opened up several lengths and was able to fend off the late brush of Beautiful Lady to score in 1:50.4, just three-fifths off her lifetime mark. Jerseylicious is well-staked at The Meadowlands, including eligibility to the TVG Championship for the Pacing Mares, Golden Girls and The Lady Liberty. Muscle Network made it back to back wins Friday. The former Valley Victory Champion made it five wins from 13 career starts with his 1:53.3 winning performance. His earnings are now past $335,000 lifetime and he is eligible to The Graduate series which gets underway on Memorial Day at Tioga Downs. Hambletonian Eligibles were prominent on the program Friday night and a couple of them won. Saboro Hanover won a maiden event for Nifty Norman and Dave Miller. The $75,000 Harrisburg yearling was equipped with trotting hobbles and responded by sprinting a visually impressive final quarter to score in a sharp 1:54.3. Additionally, Dapper Don, making his three year old debut, scored in impressive first-over fashion in 1:55.4. The connections have a Hambletonian-ring to them, being the same that won the 2012 Hambletonian with Market Share, including driver Tim Tetrick, who was very high on the colt. "He's come a long way," said Tetrick. "He let me drive him how I wanted, let me put him where I wanted. He's matured. Current Crisis and Robert Krivelin were victories in the $15,000 GSY Amateur Final. Despite a frenzy of action that saw trotters stacked three and four wide on the first turn, Krivelin was able to secure a position near the lead where he tracked Mr Ridgetaker who was very wide early and Bambino Hall. Kriven guided his trotter to the lead past the half-mile pole and Current Crisis opened up daylight from there, soaring past three-quarters and romping to an easy triumph. Hannah Miller was forced very wide behind stalled trotters coming off the bend and finished with a flourish to be second while Jenny Melander and All About Justice checked in third. Robert Krivelin trains and drives Current Crisis for the Hero Stables. The win was the 25th in the career of the six year old trotter, sending his earnings to nearly $240,000. On the wagering front, the 11th race on the program featured the fourth largest payout in the history of The Meadowlands and the second largest trifecta of all time. It was a perfect storm, as Two Hip Dip, Donnie Darko and Lock Down Lindy, the three favorites all broke stride. Battle Mage avoided any trouble and scored the 32-1 upset. Cutup Hanover was second at 34-1 and Silverhill Volo was third at 99-1. That combination resulted in a $2 trifecta return of $62,559.60. The largest trifecta of all time came nearly twenty years ago and returned over $88,000 for a $2 return. The only larger payouts were a pick-6 that yielded over a $100,000 return and the recent $200,000 jackpot that was paid out in the Super Hi-5. The total handle of $2,597,671 was a ten-percent increase over this same Friday in 2014. Racing resumes on Saturday, with first post time at 7:15 P.M. There are carryovers in both $.20 cent Jackpot Super Hi-5 wagers, with the fifth race carryover now standing at $108,703 and the last race carryover growing to $83,532. Darin Zoccali

WASHINGTON, PA, May 4, 2015 -- Tall Cotton lulled the field with a sleepy second quarter, then scorched the back half in 56 to capture Monday's harness racing $18,000 Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Tall Cotton, who shares The Meadows' all-age trotting record of 1:51.3, made an easy lead and enjoyed comfortable fractions of 28/57.4. Dave Palone turned him loose down the backside, and the 9-year-old Revenue S-B Cor Peatra gelding blew the race open, scoring by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:53.4. TSM Photo Bugger rallied for second while the first-over Trustworthy Kid earned show. Ron Burke trains Tall Cotton, who now boasts $637,131 in career earnings, for Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Edwin Gold and Howard Taylor. Elsewhere on the card, Roger Hammer collected career driving victory 3,999 with Camturo Beach, a 5-year-old Somebeachsomewhere-Camturo gelding he owns and trains. Mike Wilder piloted three winners on the 14-race program. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

WASHINGTON, PA, May 1, 2015 -- Though harness racing stablemates and 4-year-olds, Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker have taken different geographic paths to stardom. Gural Hanover captured the New York Sires Stake championship last year; Rose Run Parker achieved the same feat -- in Indiana. Together, they've earned just over $1 million for trainer Ron Burke, and they'll lead the field in Saturday's inaugural edition of the $62,100 The Meadows Maturity for 4-and-up stallion and gelding trotters. The event, part of a special Kentucky Derby Day card that begins at 11:25 AM, goes as race 9. "They're very similar," Burke said of his dynamic duo. "They dominated their sires stakes programs, and they have big chances this year to move up." Gural Hanover (post 1, Matt Kakaley) has won 11 of 15 career starts and will be launching his season after a sharp 1:55.3 qualifier at Harrah's Philly. "That was a vicious qualifier," Burke said of the Crazed-Givemearing gelding owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Little E and Panhellenic Stables. "I'd like to have one more work in him, but it is what it is." Rose Run Parker (post 2, Dave Palone), had a 3-race winning streak snapped April 18 when he broke stride in Hoosier Park's Invitational. "I didn't like that break last week, but that's out of character for him," Burke said. "I don't expect it to be a problem. Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and William Haas, Jr. campaign the Jailhouse Jesse-Centergy gelding. Burke said he hasn't plotted specific schedules for Gural Hanover and Rose Run Parker. "When they finish one race, I think about the next race," he said. "I never assume they'll be ready for this race or that race. I take it week by week." The road to victory may go through the Burke pair, but Melady's Monet (post 4, John Campbell) may be just the contender to speed down that road. The 6-year-old Revenue S-Keystone Melady gelding already has won five of eight outings this year, including three straight in the Open Handicap at the Meadowlands, for trainer Kevin McDermott and owner Melady Enterprises. Last week's distaff division of The Meadows Maturity was a showcase for local talent, as Bill Bercury's Daylon Miracle blew past 2014 Trotter of the Year Shake It Cerry to lead a 1-2-3 finish for The Meadows-based horses. Bercury will be looking for a stakes sweep Saturday when he sends out Tamarind, (post 8, Aaron Merriman), who has banked $624,484 in his career but needed a drop to conditioned company to get his most recent victory. Completing the local contingent are Classicality (post 5, Brian Zendt), an easy winner in The Meadows' top trot last week, and Sixteen Mikes (post 7, Eric Goodell), campaigned and bred by Bob Key and conditioned by Rich Gillock. Saturday's 13-race card also features three splits of the $183,216 Adios Betty, a Pennsylvania Sires Stake for sophomore filly pacers. The field for The Meadows Maturity, in post position order, with drivers and morning line odds: 1. Gural Hanover, Matt Kakaley, 9/2 2. Rose Run Parker, Dave Palone, 7/2 3. Madewell Hanover, Chris Ryder, 6-1 4. Melady's Monet, John Campbell, 5/2 5. Classicality, Brian Zendt, 8-1 6. Possessed Fashion, Tony Hall, 8-1 7. Sixteen Mikes, Eric Goodell, 10-1 8. Tamarind, Aaron Merriman, 10-1 The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

Habitat enters this harness racing season playing second fiddle to stablemate Mission Brief, but he will be the first 3-year-old trotter from trainer Ron Burke's stable to venture onto the road to the Hambletonian Stakes. A multiple stakes-winner in 2014, Habitat will get his campaign started Saturday when he faces seven foes in the $133,170 Dexter Cup for 3-year-old trotters at Freehold Raceway. Habitat, who is one of four Hambletonian eligible horses in the field, will start from post six with Yannick Gingras in the sulky. Also in the Dexter will be four horses from the stable of trainer Ray Schnittker - Gabe The Bear Dean, HA Taylor, Bavaro, and Broken Record - along with Charlie Norris' Divisionist, Jimmy Takter's Apostles Creed, and Rich Gillock's Sixteen Encores. Apostles Creed, Divisionist, Habitat, and Sixteen Encores are eligible to the Hambletonian. Last year, Habitat won seven of 13 races and earned $534,407 in purses - a total that ranked third among all 2-year-old trotters, behind only division Dan Patch Award winners Mission Brief (female) and Pinkman (male). Habitat's victories included the William Wellwood Memorial and Matron Stakes as well as divisions of the Tompkins-Geers, Champlain, and Bluegrass. "I'm very happy with him," said Burke, who owns Habitat with Our Horse Cents Stables and Weaver Bruscemi. "I'm pleasantly surprised. He did improve (from last year) and I didn't think he would because he was smaller and so quick to learn last year. I'm thrilled." Burke was so pleased with Habitat's early work that he decided to enter the colt in the Dexter. Habitat, who won a qualifier in 1:56.3 at Harrah's Philadelphia on April 21, received a bye into the Dexter final based on career earnings. Broken Record, Gabe The Bear Dean, and Sixteen Encores also got byes while Apostles Creed, Divisionist, HA Taylor, and Bavaro reached the final thanks to finishing one-through-four in an eight-horse elimination last weekend at Freehold. "I wasn't planning on going to (the Dexter)," Burke said. "Then I trained him a week out and he was so good, I thought I would look it up and see what horses (were eligible). I threw him in at Philly and Yannick said he was vicious. I knew there was the chance I could get a bye and then it gave me 10 days to work him again in between. I was happy with it. "It's a nice purse for the level of competition. It's not going to be the hardest horses he's going to face all year and it will be a nice start to the year to get him going." Habitat, a son of stallion Conway Hall out of the mare Habit's Best, made one start on a half-mile track last year, going off stride in a division of the New York Sire Stakes at Buffalo Raceway. Burke, though, believes Habitat will be alright on Freehold's half-mile oval. "Freehold is such a good track; they get around there so well," Burke said. "I don't really worry about it too much." Habitat would enter the year as the star of most stables, but Burke also is preparing Mission Brief for her 3-year-old campaign - and a chance to take on the boys in the Hambletonian. She is scheduled to qualify Friday morning at the Meadowlands. Last year, she trotted the fastest mile in history by a 2-year-old - 1:50.3. That time, on paper, was at least eight lengths better than any other 2-year-old trotter last season. Additionally, of the four fastest miles ever by a 2-year-old trotter, Mission Brief owns or shares three of the times. "If not for Mission Brief, I'd be falling all over (Habitat)," Burke said. "But they're not the same horse." Apostles Creed won the Dexter Cup elimination by one length over Divisionist in 1:59.4. Takter has trained four Dexter Cup winners during his career. Schnittker has five triumphs in the Dexter Cup. Following is the field for the Dexter Cup in post order with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Gabe The Bear Dean, Jordan Stratton, Ray Schnittker 2. HA Taylor, Steve Smith, Ray Schnittker 3. Bavaro, George Brennan, Ray Schnittker 4. Divisionist, Charlie Norris, Charlie Norris 5. Apostles Creed, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter 6. Habitat, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke 7. Sixteen Encores, David Miller, Rich Gillock 8. Broken Record, Ray Schnittker, Ray Schnittker Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

YONKERS, NY, Saturday, April 25, 2015 - March Awareness (George Brennan, $5.40, part of favored entry) tagged A Cool Million (Jordan Stratton) on the money Tuesday afternoon, winning Yonkers Raceway's $66,500 harness racing final of the aptly-named YR/SOA of New York Bonus Trotting Series. Working out a second-over trip from post position No. 5, March Awareness chased A Cool Million as that one threw down intervals of :28, :57.3 and 1:25.4. Bentley Karan (Jason Bartlett) was sequestered second. The leader's stablemate/entrymate, Lucky Colby (Eric Carlson), was first-up, towing March Awareness in behind. A Cool Million owned a length-and-a-half lead into the lane, but March Awareness was getting to him. The latter stuck his tongue out late, winning by a short schnozz in a season's-best 1:55.4. Third went to Bentley Karan, with Lucky Colby and Massive Talent (Andy Miller) rounding out the payees. Detroit Rapper (Jim Marohn Jr.), Dot Dot Dot Dash (Dan Dube) and ABC Crown Me Queen (Brian Sears) completed the order. For March Awareness, a 5-year-old Ken Warkentin gelding co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke and Weaver Bruscemi, it was his fourth win in 10 seasonal starts. The exacta paid exacta paid $14, with the triple returning $33.60. "He had a good trip, a good mile, even though I moved him earlier in the turn," Brennan said. "They added an inside head pole, and that definitely helped. It worked out very well." A $30,000 series consolation was won by Striker Ace (Tyler Buter, $48.60) in 1:57.4. Frank Drucker

Freehold, NJ --- Camille has made more than a million dollars on the racetrack thanks to her tenaciousness, which harness racing trainer Ron Burke deems priceless. He hopes the mare passes that quality to her offspring -- and she will get the chance following her appearance in Saturday’s (April 25) $261,000 Blue Chip Matchmaker championship at Yonkers Raceway. The Matchmaker will be Camille’s final race. Then the 7-year-old pacer, who has won 37 of 115 starts and $1.27 million, will be bred to recently retired Burke standout Sweet Lou. “I think she’s proven herself to be iron tough,” said Burke, who owns Camille with Weaver Bruscemi LLC, M1 Stable, and Jack Piatt III. “She raced at the top of the game and I think she more than deserves the chance to be a broodmare. She’s a cool horse, one of my favorites. And so is Sweet Lou. So that’s kind of neat.” In this year’s Blue Chip Matchmaker Series, Camille posted two wins and two second-place finishes in four preliminary races. At the conclusion of the event’s five preliminary legs, she was second in points to Carolsideal, who was unbeaten in four Matchmaker starts. Camille and driver George Brennan will start from post eight in the Matchmaker final. Carolsideal, with driver Daniel Dube at the lines for trainer Rene Allard, will leave from post four. “She’s been really good,” Burke said. “This is a nice way for her to end her career. We hoped for a little bit better draw (for the final), but it is what it is.” Camille is a daughter of Camluck out of the mare Art Of Design. She is a full sister to Chancey Lady, who earned more than $2 million during her racing career. “She’s well bred, but I hope she passes on her grittiness,” Burke said. “She’s a fast horse, but she’s not blinding fast. She’s good gaited, but she’s not the greatest gaited. So more than anything I just hope she passes on her will to win.” Camille won the $214,370 Ellamony at Flamboro Downs in 2012 and captured the $158,000 Artiscape at Tioga Downs in 2013 with a late rush from eighth place at the top of the stretch. The race featured fractions of :25.1, :52.3 and 1:19.4 as Camille equaled the then-world record of 1:48.3. “That was really something,” Burke said. “That was a great race; it was a crazy mile. She hadn’t been as sharp as she’d been in the past, so to win that, it’s the (most special) race that comes to mind the quickest.” In addition to sending out Camille in the Matchmaker, Burke will have Take It Back Terry in the $529,000 George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series championship. Like his stablemate, Take It Back Terry finished second in the preliminary round standings, which were topped by P H Supercam. Take It Back Terry, also driven by Brennan, drew post five in the Levy final. P H Supercam, with Jason Bartlett driving for trainer Jeff Bamond Jr., got post eight. “It’s not the best draw, but it’s not the worst draw either,” Burke said. “There are enough horses in there that are going to go forward, so it’s just going to be a kind of wide-open unpredictable race.” Take It Back Terry opened the Levy with a second-place finish, but heads to the final off three consecutive victories. Burke owns the 6-year-old son of Western Terror-Second Symphony with Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. The gelding, who Burke purchased as a yearling for $30,000 in 2010, is a half-brother to stakes-winner Cuz She Can. He has won 29 of 103 races and earned $625,166 in his career. “He’s been very good,” Burke said. “I didn’t expect this. We always expect him to race well and do well, but he’s really stepped it up a little bit extra. He’s the nicest horse in the world to be around, just easy going, and he’s consistently gotten better from year to year. “We’ve raced him hard, so we’ll give him a break after the Levy. He’ll get two months off and then go back to the grind.” Following is the field for the Blue Chip Matchmaker final in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line. 1. Venus Delight, Jason Bartlett, Jeff Bamond Jr., 7-5 2. Yagonnakissmeornot, Brian Sears, Rene Allard, 8-5 3. Fancy Desire, Yannick Gingras, Daniel Renaud, 12-1 4. Carolsideal, Daniel Dube, Rene Allard, 8-5 5. Monkey On My Wheel, David Miller, Andrew Harris, 8-1 6. Strings, Eric Carlson, Jennifer Sabot, 20-1 7. Krispy Apple, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 7-5 8. Camille, George Brennan, Ron Burke, 5-1 Note: Venus Delight and Krispy Apple are racing as an entry. Yagonnakissmeornot and Carolsideal are racing as an entry. Following is the field for the Levy final in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line. 1. Domethatagain, Daniel Dube, Rene Allard, 9-1 2. Lucan Hanover, David Miller, Andrew Harris, 9-2 3. Windsong Jack, Eric Carlson, Jennifer Sabot, 20-1 4. Beach Memories, Yannick Gingras, Scott DiDomenico, 9-2 5. Take It Back Terry, George Brennan, Ron Burke, 5-2 6. Polak A, Brian Sears, Tony O’Sullivan, 15-1 7. Mach It So, Tim Tetrick, Jeff Bamond Jr., 9-5 8. P H Supercam, Jason Bartlett, Jeff Bamond Jr., 9-5 Note: Mach It So and P H Supercam are racing as an entry. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications  

WILKES-BARRE PA - The winning beat went on for JL Cruze as he captured the $30,000 Championship of the Bobby Weiss Series for trotting males in 1:52.4 Tuesday night at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, while in the $30,000 pacing female Championship, Donttellruss led a 1-2-3 finish for the Burke Stable with a 1:52.1 triumph.   MALE TROTTERS - JL CRUZE   It may not exactly have been the maximum win in "cruze control" - it looked like John Campbell had to flick the whip three times at him in the lane - but the result was the same: JL Cruze in the winners circle, for the 11th time in 13 starts this year and for the seventh straight time, after a 1:52.4 triumph in the Weiss finale for male trotters.   Campbell bided his time early with the Crazed gelding, then went up to get the lead just past the quarter from Opulent Yankee, with splits of 27.4, 57, and 1:25.1. The "Yankee" gave his nemesis a good threat in the Pocono Pike midstretch, appearing to get within a half-length, but JL Cruze still had more and completed the last panel in 27.3 for a length victory. (Math fans will note that tossing out the second stanza gives you 1:23.3 speed for JL Cruze in the other quarters; in another numbers note, "Cruze" commanded over $19,000 in a $21,700 show pool.)   Eric Ell, the skipper of one of the East Coast's hottest barns right now, trains JL Cruze, who will certainly be needing to take a step up in class soon if not now, for owners Ken Wood, Bill Dittmar Jr., and Stephen Iaquinta.   (And spare a thought for the gallant Opulent Yankee, from the Miller Team Orange Crush. His seasonal record now is 13-5-8-0, and you get exactly zero points for guessing which horse finished in front of him all eight times. At least he has the satisfaction of knowing he did hang JL Cruze's two 2015 defeats on him.)   FEMALE PACERS -- DONTTELLRUSS   Far inside, far outside, down the middle of the track - the Ron Burke four-horse stable entry came at 'em from every angle, taking down the 1-2-3 spots in the Weiss Championship for female pacers, with Donttellruss taking the biggest part of the money as a 1:52.3 pocket rocket.   With $32,500 of a $34,000 show pool riding on the 1-5* quartet, only one of them left the gate hard - Donttellruss, winner of her last two starts in the Weiss, and she wrested the lead from Hollyrocker just at the 26.2 quarter. The Beach Nextdoor, sent off at 2-1 despite three straight series wins, had tucked fourth early after starting from post eight, then was hustled to the lead well before the 55.3 half.   But The Beach Nextdoor would find the Burke entry making life a "beach" for her soon afterwards, with Life Is A Beach and Allthatjazz De Vie, each series winners, coming first- and second-over respectively (and remember, Donttellruss is still in the pocket) past the 1:23.2 3/4s.   In the stretch, driver Andrew McCarthy took Donttellruss to the Pocono Pike, took the lead from the game but overwhelmed The Beach Nextdoor, and then held off - Caviart Shelly, the fourth Burkeite, the only one not a prelim winner, the one who was fourth-over and eighth at the ¾ pole and five-wide headstretch, the one closed with a furious rally to miss by only a head, with Life Is A Beach just another neck back in third.   Donttellruss is a daughter of Panspacific Flight co-owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Lawrence Karr, and Frank Baldachino. She earned $31,800 in Weiss competition, with the Burke foursome totaling $82,200 in this division alone.   One final note: the only non-1-2-3 Burke horse, Allthatjazz De Vie, finished sixth, though beaten only 2¼ lengths. This was important wagering information, as in addition to show wagering, Pocono also allowed exacta, trifecta, and superfecta betting - thus the Exacta was the 1-2-3 entry and fourth-place Crescent City; the Trifecta added fifth-place The Beach Nextdoor; and for the Superfecta, you had to go all the way down to seventh, Hideaway Beach, to determine the official order!   '**************   And if all that isn't enough for mountain sulky fans to digest: the $30,000 Weiss Championship for trotting females is tomorrow night, and on Saturday the world's richest harness horse, Foiled Again, returns to the scene of his 2013 Breeders Crown triumph, as The $6+ Million Dollar Horse ($6,923,781) goes in the winners-over pace.   (And he drew the rail. Won't this guy Burke ever get any luck?)   PHHA / Pocono

EAST RUTHERFORD, (April 18, 2015) - The Whata Baron series got underway Saturday night at The Meadowlands which featured a collection of thirteen talented harness racing pacers, split into two divisions. The first division for $22,500 was led by Rediscovery, the overwhelming 1/5 favorite in the field of six. As a three year old the son of Tell All, Rediscovery contested the Little Brown Jug and his four year old season began with a solid effort in the Sonsam series and a sharp win in the Sagamore at Yonkers. Driven by Yannick Gingras, Rediscovery was allowed to settle off the pace in the early stages, having only one horse beaten at the opening quarter. But Ideal Cowboy, fresh off the layoff was fired up and reached that quarter in 26-seconds. Sassy Hanover was the first horse to move and he made a sharp brush heading past the three-eighths pole, reaching the half-mile in 54-seconds. But at that point, Rediscovery was breathing down his neck and the favorite took over as the field moved into the far turn. Rediscovery paced the far turn in 26.4, reaching three quarters in an eye-opening 1:20.4 and turned for home with the advantage. Ideal Cowboy, the once leader who was shuffled back to third was guided back out and made his bid for the lead, trying to chase down the favorite. But he appeared to lean in several times and was unable to catch Rediscovery. JK Patriot, who saved ground throughout, shook free in the stretch and rallied well to finish third. For Rediscovery, the 1:49.2 mark was a lifetime best performance. Rediscovery is trained by Ron Burke for Burke Racing, Weaver, Bruscemi and Collura. The second division featured Panchester United off his impressive victory one week ago.  He was sent off as the 3/2 favorite in the field of seven and would dictate the terms, leading the field through fractions of 26.4, 54.2 and 1:22.3.  A challenge would come on the far turn as Corey Callahan guided Bettorever from third to the outside and they would draw on even terms at the top of the stretch with Rock Out locked in the pocket behind the leader.  Lord Of Misrule was tracking the cover and loomed into contention as well.  They lined up three across the track nearing the wire, with Rock Out crying out for racing room as the field swarmed in on Panchester United, but his clearance would come too late as Bettorever was able to wear down the favorite and score a gritty win in 1:50.4.  Panchester United was just a nose behind in second while Rock Out was a hard-luck third. Bettorever is owned by Bamond Racing LLC and trained by Jeffrey Bamond Jr.  The 1:50.4 clocking was a new lifetime mark for the Bettor's Delight four year old gelding. The Spring Preview for pacers also commenced on Saturday night.  The first division for the maiden colts and geldings went to Edward Teach, a Meadowlands Pace and Cane Pace-eligible Rocknroll Hanover colt in 1:52.1, giving Yannick Gingras a sweep of the early daily double. Edward teach made a first over bid, gained separation on the field and won convincingly.  Gratian Hanover rallied late to finish second with Devils Cut third.  The second division saw Rock Of The Ages, a Rocknroll Hanover son of the great Galleria, pull off the 9-1 upset with Andy Miller in the bike in 1:51.3.  Bobby The Greek, the prohibitive favorite was trip-compromised, forced three wide and could not catch the winner in the stretch, forced to settled for second with American Messenger third.  The Spring Preview for the sophomore pacers meeting the non-winners of two condition featured a match-up of Gokudo Hanover vs. Revenge Shark and the race did not disappoint as Gokudo Hanover cut the mile and turned for home with the lead and Revenge Shark made a menacing move on the turn to challenge the leader, but drifted slightly in the stretch and Gokudo Hanover was able to hold on for the win in 1:51.  Colorful Speech earned the show spot. On the filly side, the spotlight was on Gweneeee J, the sister to Heston Blue Chip.  For the second consecutive week, she had to do the work, grinding it out first over, this time chasing her stable-mate Lady Spartacus and for the second week in a row, she could not go by the leader.  Lady Spartacus earned her second victory of the season, holding off the favorite to win in 1:53.4. On the wagering-front, both Jackpot Super Hi-5 pools went unclaimed again, with the fifth race Jackpot climbing to $87,136 and the last race carryover growing to $58,172. Racing resumes on Friday at The Meadowlands, with first post time at 7:15 P.M. Darin Zoccali

YONKERS, NY, Friday, April 17, 2015 - Yonkers Raceway Friday night hosted the fifth and final preliminary round of the harness racing Blue Chip Matchmaker of Open Pacing Mares. One lonesome, $40,000 division attracted six lasses, with odds-on Camille (George Brennan, $3) barely holding sway over Krispy Apple (Tim Tetrick) in 1:53. The former, starting inside her five foes, saw both Palm Patrol (Mark MacDonald) and Krispy Apple in play early, with Krispy Apple looping Palm Patrol to make the first lead. It was Camille then finding front before a 28-second opening quarter-mile, then a :56.4 intermission. For the Ladies N (Brian Sears) tried it from third, engaging the leader in and out of a 1:25 three-quarters. However, Camille rejected those advances, taking a three-quarter length lead into the lane. She then encountered a passing-lance Krispy Apple, with the second choice missing a scant schnozz. Strings (Eric Carlson) wound up third as the 67-1 rank outsider. For Camille, a 7-year-old daughter of Camluck co-owned (as Burke Racing) by (trainer) Ron Burke, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 Stable and Jack Piatt III, is was her third win in eight seasonal starts (2-for-4 in series). The exacta paid $4, with the triple returning $23.80 It should be noted that the first three leading ladies through four Matchmaker rounds-Carolisideal, Venus Delight and Yagonnakissmeornot-all took this week off, their invites to the final solidified. They are to be joined next week by Camille, Monkey on My Wheel, Fancy Desire, Krispy Apple and Strings. The finals of both the Blue Chip Matchmaker (purse $261,000) and George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series (purse $529,000) go Saturday night, Apr. 25. The Raceway's live season continues Saturday night (post time 7:10 PM), with the fifth and final prelim round (three, $50,000 divisions) of the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series. After that, it's Monday (7:10 PM), a French-centric Tuesday (1 PM, third round of YR/SOA of NY Bonus Trotting Series), then Thursday through Saturday (all at 7:10 PM). Note Sunday matinees are done until November. Evening simulcasting accompanies all night programs, with afternoon simulcasting available daily. Frank Drucker

The Howard Taylor-owned harness racing gelding has won six of 11 races this year, good for $75,475 in purses, and heads into Saturday's $30,000 Bobby Weiss Series final for 3- and 4-year-old male pacers off victories in his two preliminary rounds of the event at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Major Uptrend, a 4-year-old, won both of his starts in the series by 1-3/4 lengths in 1:51.3. His first triumph came over YS Lotus, who has posted two wins in the series to go with two second-place finishes, and his most recent score came over Victory At Last, who was unbeaten in three previous series starts. Trained by Ron Burke and driven by Matt Kakaley, Major Uptrend will start Saturday's Weiss final from post two. "He's just blazing fast," said Taylor, who purchased Major Uptrend in December. "I don't know how good he is class-wise, but he's got great speed. He's far exceeded what I thought I was getting. "What I'm looking forward to is when he gets to where he has to go with horses that can go with him how much guts he's got. I don't know. We'll find out." Major Uptrend is a son of stallion Somebeachsomewhere out of the million-dollar-earning mare Tricky Tooshie. He sold for $177,000 as a yearling, under the name Toronto Hanover, and won six of 19 starts and $26,352 prior to Taylor purchasing the horse on the recommendation of Doug Lewis. Taylor was interested in Major Uptrend because the gelding fit the conditions of a number of winter series. "That's what I always look to, what I can do with them -- not what they've done," Taylor said. "What they've done wasn't for me and doesn't help me any, but it's where I can go from here. This horse had all kinds of late-closers he was eligible to, so I thought it was a no-brainer." After finishing second by a neck for Taylor in his first start, Major Uptrend closed 2014 with a win in which he rallied from the back of the pack with a :25.3 last quarter-mile. This year, Major Uptrend has finished no worse than second in any race in which he remained pacing. He went off stride once in a preliminary round of the Escort Series at the Meadowlands and twice in the Sagamore Hill Series at Yonkers Raceway. "I don't think he's a real big fan of a half-mile track," Taylor said, referring to Yonkers. "He's a funny horse. I've seen him enough and I think I've learned a lot about him. He's one of these horses that if you're going to do something, you've got to do it. You can't start and then change your mind. If you change your mind he just gets mad and jumps." Major Uptrend finished second to Company Man in the final of the Escort Series and finished second to Rockeyed Optimist in the final of the Sonsam Series. He handed Rockeyed Optimist his only loss of 2015 in a preliminary round of the Sonsam. Following the Weiss Series, Major Uptrend is eligible to the Whata Baron Series at the Meadowlands. The Whata Baron begins with two divisions Saturday and concludes May 2. "I still don't know what I have," Taylor said. "I know I have a horse that's as good as anything in these series. We'll probably give him some time off after these series - he's been going hard every week - and then bring him back and find out what we have in open company. "But it's been a fun ride so far." YS Lotus, trained by Rene Allard, drew post No. 1 for the Weiss Series final and will have Simon Allard at the lines. Shadow Margeaux, who has a win and three second-place finishes in the event, got post five for trainer Steve Salerno and driver Larry Stalbaum. Victory At Last, also from the Burke stable, got post eight with George Napolitano Jr. listed to drive. Napolitano also is listed on Burke-trainee Coaster, who drew post seven. By Ken Weingartner Harness Racing Communications USTA

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