After being disqualified in the Hambletonian, the Ron Burke trainee scored a decisive, stakes-record victory of 1:51.4 in Saturday’s $684,000 Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk.
by Dave Briggs and Mark McKelvie / WEG standardbred communications
Trainer Ron Burke said What The Hill’s victory in Saturday’s $684,000 Canadian Trotting Classic (CTC) doesn’t erase being disqualified after the colt reached the wire first in the Hambletonian, but it helps “a little bit.”
“But then you start thinking if he wasn’t taken down (in the Hambletonian) he’s a Peter Haughton winner, a Canadian Trotting Classic winner and a Hambletonian winner. Now, the horse is starting to put together a little bit of a resume,” said Burke, who also won the $593,000 Maple Leaf Trot later in the card with Hannelore Hanover.
In the CTC, What The Hill converted off of a similar pocket trip to find redemption with a 1:51.4 stakes record victory that came in just his second start since a month-long layoff to recover from throat surgery.
“I knew that he was probably not going to be as tight as we needed him to be,” Burke said of What The Hill’s third-place finish in his CTC elimination a week ago. “I knew one more week would make a huge difference.”
The son of Muscle Hill out of K T Cha Cha followed behind Long Tom and driver Tim Tetrick as they posted fractions of :27.1, :55.4 for the half and 1:23.3 for three-quarters. Into the stretch, driver David Miller angled What The Hill off cover and fed the colt open racetrack where he was quick to respond. What The Hill then breezed past Long Tom to capture the rich final and also earn a new speed badge in the process. Dover Dan rallied to finish second, three lengths behind the victor. Long Tom faded to third.
“I figured I would be following Timmy (Tetrick and Long Tom) and I was only hoping that someone didn’t try to remove on him,” said Miller from the winner’s circle. “But the trip worked out great. The horse that was first in, I believe was Bills Man. He didn’t get to us so I was able to sit in right to the head of the stretch and then my horse exploded.”
“It was much more stress-free than the last time,” Burke said, laughing, referring to the Hambletonian which he has appealed to the New Jersey courts.
“I was flabbergasted that no one came out and let them go to three-quarters in the race they did and let David get out this time,” said co-owner Jerry Silva, who won the 2009 Canadian Trotting Classic with What The Hill’s sire Muscle Hill, and also is a part-owner of this year’s Maple Leaf Trot winner Hannelore Hanover. “Not like in the Hambletonian when they were all alongside of him and we got disqualified for the first time in 92 years, which I still have doubts about them disqualifying us in that race.”
What The Hill notched his fifth victory of the season and eighth lifetime. With the win, the trotting colt now boasts career earnings of $630,747 for owners Burke Racing Stable, Our Horse Cents Stables, J And T Silva Stables and Deo Volente Farms.
“He’s very talented, very good-gaited. He’s really a complete package, just does everything very well,” Burke said, adding What The Hill is expected to race in the Kentucky Futurity and Breeders Crown.
“I think he’ll trot a big mile. He’ll love Lexington, so I’m excited to take him down there and see what he does,” Burke said, adding that heats won’t be an issue for What The Hill.
“Heats don’t bother me,” Burke said. “He’s a big, fat horse. He’ll be fine.”
What The Hill paid $7.60, $5.10, and $3.70, combining with Dover Dan ($8, $4.80) for a $ 35.70 (4-3) exactor. A 4-3-7 (Long Tom, $4.20) triactor was worth $292, while a $1 superfecta [4-3-7-2 (Bills Man)] returned $474.80.