07/18/2013 10:46AM

Hoosier Park: Ron Burke sends out seven in Gold finals

Trainer Ron Burke leads the nation in wins and earnings.

Trainer Ron Burke has a golden opportunity to pick up some major cash in the Indiana Gold Sires Stakes finals.

Burke, far and away the leading trainer in North America in both wins and earnings, has seven horses competing in three of the four $200,000 Gold Final races for 3-year-olds Saturday night at Hoosier Park.

They’ve made an aggregate total of 130 starts, have been victorious in 30% of their races and finished in the mutuel money 63% of the time.

In the race for 3-year-old filly pacers (race 13), Burke is flaunting a four-horse entry.

“All of them are pretty solid,” the trainer said of Hoosier Chinna, Mandy’s Mattjesty, Mystic Karissa and Harmony Oaks Quike. “That’s obviously my best shot.”

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Burke believes Mandy’s Mattjesty is the best of the quartet.

“She only has had seven lifetime starts and she has gotten better every start,” he said. “She was unbelievably sharp last week (in taking a $30,000 Sires Stakes semi-final race by 2 1/2 lengths in 1:53 1/5). We have big hopes for her.”

Harmony Oaks Quike has been an impressive winner of her last two races. She was a 7-length victor in the quarterfinals, then annexed her semi-final race  by 1 1/4 lengths in a career best clocking of 1:53 1/5, forcing stablemate Hoosier Chinna to settle for second money.

“Harmony Oaks Quike has been as good as she can be,” Burke said. “Hoosier Chinna is the one I keep thinking is going to pace a great mile and she drew a great spot (the 4-hole in a 10-horse race).”

Like Mandy’s Mattjesty, Mystic Karissa is in her first year of racing. She has won seven of her 14 races but since late May she has been in a bad slump and hasn’t come close to finishing in the money.

“She has been a bit of a disappointment because she has a lot of ability,” Burke said. “We’ll try some different things with her this week.”

Always About Katey is the best bet to succeed if Burke’s entrymates are shut out of the winner’s circle. She boasts a $453,645 bankroll---making her by far the richest filly in the field—with most of the money earned last year when she won 10 of 12 races.

In the ninth race, the colt and gelding pace final, Burke will be represented by Nitro and Virgil.

“Nitro raced super last week (rallying to finish second, 3/4 of a length behind Night Pro in the semifinal),” Burke said. “The problem in this race is that I can’t see anybody beating Night Pro—that horse has been so good. Nitro drew the 7-hole and Night Pro has the 6-hole, so hopefully we can follow him and go when he goes.

“Virgil has the 10-hole and he’s middle of the road, a step behind some of the colts in here. He’ll need a good trip to get a piece of the purse.

As Burke pointed out, Night Pro is a high class act. In fact, trainer Dale Decker’s colt may be the best horse in the four Sires Stakes final races as suggested by his 11-race résumé consisting of nine wins and two places.

Burke’s final start in the upper tier of Sire Stakes finals on the card is Just A Steady Hall in the colt and gelding trot (race 12).

“Just A Steady Hall got hurt and missed a week of racing and he was up against it even before he got hurt. He drew on the inside (post 3) and he’s consistent (with three firsts and a third in six starts this year), so maybe that will give him a chance to do something good.”

Natural Herbie, with a three-race winning streak, and Red Hot Herbie, with three triumphs in his last four races, also look awfully good. Both are sons of Here Comes Herbie, but they come from different stables. Natural Herbie is co-owned by his trainer-driver, Verlin Yoder, while Red Hot Herbie is owned by Summit Pacing Acres, LLC and trained by Byron Hooley.

Yoder also has an accomplished horse going for him in the filly trot (race 3) as well. He will send out Lady Blitz in quest of her sixth victory in nine starts this year, racing her as an entry with Justice First.

Two other trainers have entries in the race—Jessie E and Ajuama are Steve Carter’s duet, while Playful Innocence and ABC Crown Me Queen form a combo for Dan Shetler.

The four $200,000 Gold finals highlight a 14-race Hoosier Park card that also features four $40,000 Silver Sire Stakes finals and a pair of $50,000 finals for older competitors.

Post time for the first race is 5:30 pm and race six kicks off a $15,000 guaranteed pick four pool.

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