11/11/2015 2:12PM

Dover: Burke Brigade ready for Matron Stakes

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Trainer Ron Burke is seven weeks from completing his seventh consecutive season on top of North America’s harness racing standings for both wins and purses and will have several opportunities to add to his totals in Thursday’s Matron Stakes at Dover Downs.

Burke’s Crazy Wow is the 6-5 morning line favorite in the $243,550 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male trotters and his Mission Brief is the 2-1 second choice in the $187,400 event for 3-year-old female trotters. He also will send out 9-2 contender Sassa Hanover in the $205,150 Matron for 3-year-old female pacers.

Crazy Wow heads to his Matron engagement off a win in the Carl Erskine on Oct. 30 at Hoosier Park. He has won eight of 16 races and earned $905,837 this year for owners Our Horse Cents Stables, JT45, J&T Silva Stables, and Deo Volente Farms. His victories also include the Colonial Trot and he finished second in the Canadian Trotting Classic.

“He’s super,” Burke said. “He’s as good as anybody right now. He’s a very good horse and I think he’s going to be a very, very good 4-year-old. He’s really has just continued to progress all year and just gets better and better. I really think it will continue down the road.”

Mission Brief is the second choice behind Wild Honey, who is 9-5 on the morning line, in the Matron for the 3-year-old female trotters. Mission Brief went off stride while leading in the stretch in her most recent start, the Breeders Crown at Woodbine Racetrack. Wild Honey seized the opportunity to capture the Crown, which was the Jimmy Takter-trained filly’s third consecutive victory since finishing second to Mission Brief in the Elegantimage Stakes.

“As long as she maintains her manners and trots, she’s tough to beat,” Burke said about Mission Brief, who has won eight of 12 races and earned $835,617 this season for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J&T Silva Stables, and the partnership of Mark Weaver and Mike Bruscemi.

“She trained super and hopefully she will be very good. She wasn’t that good that night (in the Breeders Crown). I don’t know why. I don’t know if she didn’t like the track. She wasn’t good warming up and she tipped over in the race. I don’t think it was much of anything, she just wasn’t good.”

Wild Honey’s wins during her current victory streak include a triumph over Mission Brief in the Kentucky Filly Futurity. She also won the Hambletonian Oaks on the same afternoon Mission Brief finished second to Pinkman in the Hambletonian. For the year, Wild Honey has won seven of 14 starts and $1.06 million for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Herb Liverman, and Jim Fielding.

The battle for divisional honors could be decided by the Matron Stakes and Continentalvictory Stakes on Nov. 21 at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Mission Brief and Wild Honey are both eligible to the Continentalvictory.

Mission Brief, who defeated Wild Honey in the Zweig Memorial filly division and also won the Moni Maker Stakes, was last season’s Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female trotter.

“She could have to win both of them now to have any chance,” Burke said about Mission Brief. “It’s (Wild Honey’s) to lose. We’ve got to win this and we’ve got to win the Continentalvictory. I have faith in her. I’ve never lost faith in her. She’s just got to do it.”

Sassa Hanover’s wins this year include the Jugette and the 3-year-old filly pacer is entering her Matron event off second-place finishes in the Breeders Crown and USS Indianapolis Memorial. She has won six of 18 races this season and earned $449,970 for owners Burke Racing, The Panhellenic Stable, Larry Karr, and Weaver and Bruscemi.

“The last couple races have been very good,” Burke said. “She’s been in tough spots and raced hard and just came up short both times.”

The 2-1 morning line favorite in the Matron for 3-year-old female pacers is supplemental entry Devil Child, who brings a three-race win streak to the race. Her triumphs include the USS Indianapolis Memorial and American-National Stakes. Divine Caroline, who sports a four-race win streak including the Breeders Crown, is the 5-2 second choice after drawing post seven to Devil Child’s post four.

Burke, who has won 875 races and $22.5 million in purses this year, also sends I’m So Fancy (7-1 on the morning line) to the Matron Stakes for 3-year-old female trotters and Yankee Bounty (10-1) to the $201,900 Matron Stakes for 3-year-old male pacers. Burke leads all trainers in wins by nearly 500 and in purses by more than $10 million. He set records last year with 1,092 triumphs and $28.4 million in purses.

“It’s been an up-and-down kind of year,” Burke said. “There have been highlights, but there have been some disappointments too. (Breeders Crown champion 2-year-old male trotter) Southwind Frank has probably been the biggest highlight. He is probably the best horse we’ve got right now.”

Thursday’s first race post time at Dover Downs is 4:30 p.m. 

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com