Hightstown, NJ — Ron Burke knows the feeling of winning at the Delaware County Fairgrounds and it never gets old.
Burke, the sport’s leading trainer in wins and purses each of the past 10 years (and well on his way to sweeping both categories again this season), is among the winningest trainers at the fairgrounds over the past 25 years, ranking No. 6 with 30 victories.
His triumphs at Delaware include two wins in the Little Brown Jug and two wins in the Jugette and he hopes to add to those totals this week. Burke sends three horses to Wednesday’s $259,600 Jugette for 3-year-old female pacers and with a victory would join Billy Haughton and Bob McIntosh as the only trainers to capture the race three times. The Burke Stable, overall, has three wins in the event, with Burke’s father Mickey taking the 2007 edition with Western Graduate.
Burke’s hopefuls in the Jugette are Warrawee Ubeaut, a 2018 Dan Patch Award winner who is the 3-5 morning-line favorite in the second of two $51,920 eliminations, and Sylph Hanover and She’s Allright in the first elimination.
In addition, Burke sends two horses, De Los Cielos Deo and Semi Tough, to Thursday’s $640,000 Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers. With a win, Burke would join five other trainers in a third-place tie for the most victories in the race. Haughton holds the record with six.
“Western Graduate gave us our first win of a major race here, so of course that was special,” Burke said. “Every time we win (one of the major races) I think it’s not going to be as special as before, but it is. It’s just a great place. It’s a place where you have a lot of fans and they’re into the racing, so it’s cool.
“I’m hoping we can get another one,” added the trainer, whose horses have hit the board in 56.9 percent of their 172 starts at the central Ohio half-mile oval. “We have a good feel for this track. We come here Saturday and we bring all the horses and they train here. It does give you an advantage, I think, if the horses go around here and get a feel for it. For a half-mile track, they’re able to go so fast here that it does kind of pick them up a little bit.”
Warrawee Ubeaut brings a three-race win streak to the Jugette, which, like the Little Brown Jug, contests its eliminations and final on the same day. The filly, who won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final in her most recent outing Sept. 7, has won seven of 12 races this season and hit the board in every start. Last year, she became the fastest 2-year-old pacer in history, winning in 1:48.3 at Lexington’s Red Mile.
“It’s been all right,” Burke said about Warrawee Ubeaut’s year to date. “I’m not as disappointed as other people. Sometimes we put her in bad spots, but it was with the goal of making her a complete racehorse. And she’s become that. She’s now controllable, she can race either way.
“The fillies that beat her sometimes just raced great. It wasn’t that she raced bad; I can think of two times she got beat a nose by horses that just raced great. The fillies this year are very good. But now she seems to be a little sharper than maybe the other ones are. She’s getting better all along. She seems to be coming to where we thought she would be.”
Warrawee Ubeaut, who has earned $1.07 million lifetime, will start her elimination from post one with driver Yannick Gingras.
“She got a great draw,” Burke said. “It’s a good spot. She can do multiple things from there; it really gives her options. I’m excited for her.”
Burke, who won the Jugette in 2015 with Sassa Hanover and 2012 with Darena Hanover (and has finished second in four other editions of the race), is hoping Sylph Hanover and She’s Allright can find their best form in Wednesday’s first elimination.
Sylph Hanover, a multiple-stakes-winner in 2018, has won only two of 13 races this season and has not finished better than fifth in her past five starts. She last won on July 19 when she captured the Nadia Lobell Stakes at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. She’s Allright, also a stakes-winner last season, has won one of 12 starts this year.
“Sylph has been a disappointment,” Burke said. “She has been a disaster. I brought her here and I trained her a first trip and I didn’t like her at all. I trained her a second trip and she was way better after I made some changes. I still may make some changes. I think she is going to be better. I needed to spend some time with her and I think it helped.
“She’s Allright has been way better than her lines the last couple starts. She’s had no luck. I thought, this is a place where we do good, I’ll give her a shot. I know that filly is a decent filly. Maybe she’s not the best filly but she will be competitive.”
Treacherous Reign, who beat Warrawee Ubeaut by a nose in the Fan Hanover Stakes on June 15, is the 6-5 favorite in the Jugette’s first elimination. She is trained by Tony Alagna and will be driven by Dexter Dunn, starting from post four.
The Jugette eliminations are races 15 and 16, with approximate post times of 3:27 p.m. (EDT) and 3:45 p.m., respectively. The top-four finishers from each division return for the $155,760 final, which is race 20, with an approximate post time of 4:57 p.m.
Complete entries for the Jugette, as well as the Buckette for 3-year-old female trotters and Standardbred Stakes for 2-year-old filly trotters and pacers, can be found here.