07/25/2017 9:44AM

Plainridge: Burke brings power pair to Spirit of Massachusetts

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Perennial Grand Circuit dash and money leading trainer Ron Burke and his "Burke Brigade” will be well represented in the $250,000 Spirit of Massachusetts Trot at Plainridge Park on Friday (July 28) as he will start both Hannelore Hanover and Crazy Wow in the state’s biggest harness race ever.

Hannelore Hanover won seven major stakes in 2016 including the $471,200 Hambletonian Maturity, $208,260 Armbro Flight, $188,350 Fresh Yankee, $170,000 Muscle Hill, $220,000 Centaur Trotting Classic, $200,000 TVG Free For All and the $250,000 Breeders Crown.

On the strength of winning 17 of 20 starts last year, Hannelore Hanover was named the 2016 Dan Patch Trotting Mare of the Year. In 2017 she picked up right where she left off and has won four out of five starts, including a victory in the $184,690 Armbro Flight final at Mohawk Raceway.

[DRF HARNESS LIVE: Watch Live Video and get insights for Friday's Spirit of Massachusetts at Plainridge.]

In her last start at the Meadowlands on Saturday (July 15), Hannelore Hanover won a leg of the Miss Versatility running away under wraps by five lengths in 1:50 3/5, which was a new lifetime mark for her and for a week, a new track record for aged trotting mares at the Meadowlands. 

Hannelore Hanover comes into this race as sharp as she could possibly be and looks to take the boys to task once again.  

“Right now Hannelore Hanover is the best trotting mare in the country and until somebody dethrones her, that’s just what she is. And she is as good as just about any trotter going right now. She’s very consistent, she does everything you ask of her; she’s just a good horse.” said her trainer Ron Burke.

“She’s seen all these horses before and she always gives you a fight. It’s going to be tough though; you know these are really good horses in this race. But a five-eighths mile track suits her as she set a track record (1:52 3/5) at Miami Valley last year. Yannick is trying to come and that’s a big deal to me that Yannick gets there.”

For her career, Hannelore Hanover has won 30 of 46 starts and has earned $1.585 million in purses.

Stablemate Crazy Wow was a NYSS champion at 2 before becoming a Grand Circuit star. He is a multiple major stake winner including the $500,000 Colonial Trot at Pocono Downs defeating Hambletonian winner Pinkman in 2015.

This year Crazy Wow got off to a fast start. He finished second in the $200,000 Cutler at the Meadowlands in early May before scoring three consecutive victories in the $150,000 Maxie Lee at Harrah’s Philly, $200,000 Charlie Hill Memorial at Scioto Downs in a track record time of 1:52 and the $185,000 Cleveland Trotting Classic at Northfield Park. Then after being off for three weeks, Crazy Wow qualified at the Meadowlands in 1:51 1/5, which tied his lifetime mark taken two years ago. 

“Crazy Wow is a horse that just gets better all the time. Last year was a bit of a disappointment for us, but this year he found himself again early” said Burke. “We qualified him the other day because we couldn’t find a race for him anywhere. That’s a problem for horses like this; it’s tough to get them raced. But right now I couldn’t be happier with where he is. He gets around any size track and he can trot with any competition. He’s a real nice horse.”

Crazy Wow has 18 lifetime wins, a mark of 1:51 1/5 and earnings totaling $1.865 million. 

Both horses will ship in Thursday morning but won’t hit the track until they warm up for the race on Friday afternoon.

The Burke Stable is no stranger to Plainridge Park. His trainees have won the Bert Beckwith Memorial four times in five years. Maltese Artist (1:49 2/5, Bruce Ranger) took the race in 2005 while setting the all-time pacing track record with his effort, Santastic’s Pan (1:51 1/5, Jim Morrill Jr.) won in 2006, Maltese Artist (1:50 4/5, Greg Grismore) for the second time in 2007 and Foiled Again (1:50 3/5, Dave Palone) scored in 2009.

“Plainridge is a great track and it’s awesome that they have it turned around and headed the right way. I’ve considered racing there full time but basically I’d have to stable there because it’s too far to ship from New Jersey” said Burke.

There will be some special promotions on tap for fans who attend the Spirit of Massachusetts day card.

Plainridge Park will be giving away inaugural edition Spirit of Massachusetts Trot baseball caps starting at 3:30 p.m. in the grandstand. They are limited to one per customer and will be available while supplies last.

Post time for the first race is 4 p.m. The Spirit of Massachusetts Trot is race nine on the card and is slated to go off at 6:40 p.m. 

--edited release (Tim Bojarski for Plainridge Park)