01/23/2014 11:34AM

Yonkers: Burke's octet ready to roll on Saturday

Ron Burke dominated the trainer standings in 2013 with over 1,000 wins.

There is a reason trainer Ron Burke stands far ahead of his rivals as the leading conditioner in North America. He has a ton of horses and knows how to find them good spots. Burke will be at it again in force this Saturday night as he sends out eight horses ready for combat on the Yonkers Raceway 12-race program. As has been the case at almost every track in North America, Burke has one for each class but most notably has plenty at the top level.

The George Morton Levy series for the sport’s best aged performers is still a few months away, but Burke knows at least one of his eight racing on Saturday night will be eligible for the Levy. “Bettors Edge is probably going to be one of the five or six we nominate,” said Burke.

On Saturday, Bettors Edge will get tested for toughness to some degree as he landed post eight in the sixth race $33,000 Open Handicap feature. This was more the luck of the draw than a handicap, with racing Secretary Steve Starr allowing seven of the eight horses to draw for the outside positions.

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“It was his first time on Lasix last week and he was like a different horse,” said Burke. “He scoped seven on a scale of 1 to 10 the week before at Yonkers.”

As for Bettors Edge’s ability to leave the gate, the trainer was quite confident that driver George Brennan, who has been named on all of Burke’s octet, would be able to leave with the speedy Bettors Edge, who is fresh off a 1:50 victory in the top class at the Meadowlands.

Burke’s night starts in race one with Orse Power, a $30,000 claimer. “I’m glad he drew the rail, that gives him some chance,” said Burke, who has been unhappy with the horse’s consistency lately.

Morgan Shark returns from the Meadowlands and seems to have found a nice spot in race three. “He’s taking a huge drop in class,” said Burke. “He’s been very good twice, especially coming off a three week break.” Morgan Shark has but two starts since a long absence but seems ready for this assignment.

So Take That, a $30,000 claimer going to post in race four, has been hot and cold for Burke and he’s looking for more consistency out of him. So Take That was claimed for a base tag of $15,000 this past November. Burke hasn’t been that happy with the horse though he thinks the lines look better than the horse has performed.

Dreamlands Art is another horse shipping in from the Meadowlands for Burke. He’s entered in a race for non-winners of $18,000 in their last six starts.

Dreamlands Art had no wins in 2013 and Burke questions his chances on Saturday. “He’s never been as good at Yonkers. He can probably handle this class,” said Burke, suggesting that perhaps Dreamlands Art’s races in the Levy series were too taxing.

Escape The News races a notch below the Open in race eight and Burke is quite happy with the horse’s last race, but confessed, “He’s been a little hot and cold,” Burke said.

“Last week he had dull cover and was flying home,” Burke said of the second place finish in the Open Handicap. Burke is confident with Escape The News on the half-mile track, noting that the horse won the Cup & Saucer last year at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island’s tight half-mile oval, sweeping two heats and scoring in 1:50 4/5 in the final.

There’s a new kid on the block in the ever growing (250 head) Burke stable. Allstar Legend arrived just a few weeks ago after spending his entire racing career under the care of George Teague Jr. The five-year-old debuted for Burke last week scoring effortlessly in 1:51 2/5 in a B-2 event at the Meadowlands last Saturday. He was bought back by ownership at Monday’s Meadowlands mixed sale and Burke seemed to indicate that the horse could be climbing the class ladder.

“I really don’t know why he only had 11 starts last year. His legs look good and I can’t see anything wrong with him,” said Burke about a horse that owns a sub 1:49 lifetime mark but has never started more than 12 times in a year and that was his sophomore campaign.

Atta Boy Dan, a recent addition to the Burke stable, finished second in his first Yonkers start at a cheaper level and now steps up and draws post eight in the evening’s nightcap.“I don’t think he has blazing gate speed,” said Burke.

The trainer indicated that Foiled Again, the richest standardbred of all time, has returned to training and much as has been his custom over the last four years, he will be qualified a couple of times and likely make his 2014 debut in the George Morton Levy series at Yonkers in the spring.