Manalapan, NJ — Ron Burke has enjoyed success with 2-year-old filly pacers, including the two most recent Dan Patch Award winners, Youaremycandygirl in 2017 and Warrawee Ubeaut in 2018, and on Monday (June 17) got another look at a group that will try to continue that good fortune.
Burke sent out four winning 2-year-old filly pacers during Monday’s qualifiers at Gaitway Farm, with Merga Hanover victorious in 1:54, Sweet Ace in 1:54.3, Wayside in 1:55.2, and Sweet Camille in 1:57. Merga Hanover and Sweet Ace, who both won qualifiers earlier this month, were the only winners timed in less than 1:55.1 over the course of the morning’s 12 qualifiers for 2-year-olds.
Merga Hanover, who won her first qualifier on June 3 in 1:56.4 at Gaitway, is by American Ideal out of Magic Starlight and was purchased for $150,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale. She is owned by Thomas Dillon, Scott Dillon, Joe Sbrocco, and Bill Donovan. She was bred by Hanover Shoe Farms.
Sweet Ace, who was a Gaitway winner in 2:03.3 on June 10, is by Sweet Lou out of One Ace Too Many. She was purchased for $20,000 at the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and is owned by Burke Racing, Larry Karr, Jason Melillo, and J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby. She was bred by Crawford Farms.
Wayside, who was making her qualifying debut, is by Somebeachsomewhere out of Al’s Girl. She is a full sister to O’Brien Award winner Sandbetweenurtoes and was purchased for $100,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. She is owned by Burke Racing, Brad Grant, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. She was bred by Steve Stewart and John Carver.
Sweet Camille, who finished third in a qualifier on June 10, is by Sweet Lou out of stakes-winning millionaire Camille. She is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, M1 Stable, and Jack Piatt III. The ownership group also bred the filly.
“I thought Merga Hanover stamped herself as probably my best filly,” Burke said. “Merga was great and Sweet Ace was great. But Wayside, that was her first time, and (second-place finisher) Primrose, it was her first time, so I was very happy with them.
“The ones that have qualified twice unless they made mistakes, that’s it for them. I’ll start looking for overnights or we’ll just prep them for the races off this. You see the improvement in them. We trained them in between this time, so they’re going to be a little bit better. I was very happy.”
Burke’s stable was responsible for 10 of the 12 winning 2-year-olds. Other second-time winners for Burke were pacing colts The Greek Freak and Cattlewash, both in 1:55.1, and trotting colt S Class in 1:57.1. Two horses that were second in their first qualifiers, trotting colt Cupid Hanover and pacing colt Mac’s Big Boy, also earned victories Monday.
The Greek Freak, the nickname of NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, is a son of Captaintreacherous out of Thirty X and was purchased for $75,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He is owned by Burke Racing, Piatt Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. He was bred by Steve Jones and Mark Mullen.
Cattlewash, bred and owned by Bill Donovan, is by Somebeachsomewhere-Road Bet.
S Class is by Muscle Hill out of Spellbound Hanover and a full brother to 2016 Trotter of the Year Marion Marauder. He is owned by Burke Racing Stable, Crawford Farms Racing, Purnel & Libby, and Weaver Bruscemi. He was bred by Bill Mulligan and purchased privately.
Cupid Hanover, who won in 1:58.3, is by Father Patrick out of Cressida Hanover and a half-brother to 2006 Horse of the Year Glidemaster. He was purchased for $250,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by the Burke-led Elite Trotting. He was bred by Brittany Farms.
Mac’s Big Boy, who won in 1:55.3, is by Somebeachsomewhere out of Hall of Fame broodmare Michelle’s Jackpot and is a half-brother to millionaires Michael’s Power and Michelle’s Power. He was purchased for $60,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Burke Racing, J&T Silva-Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi, and Wingfield Five. He was bred by Jeff Snyder.
Rounding out Burke’s winners was trotting colt Vinny De Vie, who stopped the timer in 1:59.4. He is by Muscle Hill out of So You De Vie. He was purchased for $70,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by Elite Trotting. He was bred by Joie De Vie Farm.
“Out of the colts, I was very happy with Cattlewash, The Greek Freak, Mac’s Big Boy,” Burke said. “I thought the one that was the biggest surprise was Caliber (who finished third in Mac’s Big Boy’s qualifier). He showed pace late into a big mile. He’s a big, great looking colt out of Allstar Rating, who was a world-record holder. He maybe hadn’t shown that until now. Maybe he’s one of those horses that in a race is going to come alive. I’m excited about that.
“I was very happy. I thought it was a very good day.”
The two winning 2-year-olds not from the Burke stable were trotting fillies Ramona Hill for trainer Tony Alagna and Love A Good Story for trainer Julie Miller.
Ramona Hill, who won in 1:56.2 with a back half in :55, is by Muscle Hill out of Lock Down Lindy. She was purchased for $70,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Brad Grant, Crawford Farms Racing, Robert Leblanc, and In The Gym Partners. She was bred by Crawford Partners.
Love A Good Story, who won in 1:57.2, is by Chapter Seven out of Celebrity Lovin. She was purchased for $90,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale and is owned by Pinske Stables and Kentuckiana Racing Stable. She was bred by Celebrity Farms.