Hollywood’s Hits: Burke on the cusp of being first trainer to 40,000 starts

April 8, 2018

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by Bob Heyden

Ron Burke is at 39,938 all-time starts through Friday (April 6) and, thus, is on the verge of becoming the first ever conditioner to start 40,000 times. Steve Asmusssen has sent out over 38,200 entrants on the thoroughbred side. Burke’s 8,586 winners and $192,435,009 are also all-time bests.

Anniversary year

This year marks the 10th anniversary of:

• Somebeachsomewhere’s spectacular season culminating in a HOY title, a career slate of 20-for-21 and a Breeders Crown victory.
• Muscle Hill’s debut. After a neck loss in his NJSS debut, he won 20 straight, finishing with the same record as SBSW and a HOY title, as well.

It is the 20th anniversary of:

• Muscles Yankee winning the Hambletonian to give John Campbell his tie-breaking 5th as a driver.
• Brett Pelling sweeping everything at Delaware (Shady Character winning the Jug and Armbro Romance the Jugette).
• NO ONE being elected into the Hall Of Fame.
• Walter Case, Jr. becoming history’s first driver to win 1,000 races (1,076) and he did it in 2,993 drives for a UDRS over .500!

It is the 30th anniversary of:

• Mack Lobell winning his second straight HOY title, the last male horse to do so.
• John Campbell and Armbro Goal taking the Hambletonian. It was the second in a row for Campbell. No driver has won it back to back since.
• Matts Scooter time trialed in 1:48.2 to establish a new mark eight years after Niatross’ 1:49.1 time trial mark.

It is the 40th anniversary of:

• Whata Baron posting an incredible seven 1:55 or better miles. Keep in mind that Oil Burner was next with three, and two NJ stallions named B Gs Bunny and Escort had one each.
• Abercrombie was named HOY. A 33-time starter, eight of his races came in four double heats in August alone. In those eight races he posted a record of 6-2-0.

It is the 50th anniversary of:

• Three megastars entering the Hall of Fame — Frank Ervin, with five HOY titles under his belt; William Haughton, the soon-to-be richest driver in the sport and the only one to win eight straight earnings titles and Del Miller, the sport’s Good Will Ambassador who did more for bringing people into the sport from everywhere than anyone else.

It is the 60th anniversary of:

• Emilys Pride being named HOY, the first of a full handful for sire Stars Pride.
• The first year that the Hall Of Fame took in “Immortals” with 39 entering — horses and humans.
It is the 70th anniversary of…
• Harrison Hoyt becoming the first amateur driver to win the Hambletonian. He won it with Demon Hanover.
• Bill O’Donnell was born on May 4. The “Magic Man” teamed with John Campbell to produce two dominant forces in the driver’s colony in the 1980s.

$2 million Single Season Club

The club for horses that have earned more than $2 million in a single season has 14 members — 10 pacers and four trotters.

Wiggle It Jiggleit is the last to do so in 2015 with earnings of $2,181,095 on the strength of a 22-3-0 record in 26 starts.

Ray Remmen’s Beach Towel got it started in 1990 with a $2.091 season.

Well Said came the closest without reaching $2 million in 2009 with earnings of $1,982,654.

Bill Robinson has done it with three different colts, all in the 1990s — Precious Bunny in 1991, Presidential Ball in 1993 and Cams Card Shark in 1994.

Linda Toscano is the only female trainer on the list — Market Share (2012).

Market Share, Gallo Blue Chip and Wiggle It Jiggleit are the only three to come back the next year and win $1 million plus.

Muscle Hill and Somebeachsomewhere hold the single season records for their respective gaits.

Two father-sons on this list — Rocknroll Hanover in 2005 and Rock N Roll Heaven in 2010 and Somebeachsomewhere in 2008 and Captaintreacherous in 2013.

In 2008, both SBSW and Deweycheatumnhowe hit $2 million.

Rock N Roll Heaven and Wiggle It Jiggleit hit $2 million without winning a million-dollar race.

Unbreakable record

How’s this for the most unbreakable record in standardbred racing:

Stars Pride produced four straight Triple Crown winners.

1964 — Ayres 30 20-4-3, $254,027 (lifetime).
1968 — Nevele Pride 67 57-4-3, $873,238.
1969 — Lindys Pride 47 25-9-4, $396,209.
1972 — Super Bowl 51 38-8-2, $600,156.

If that wasn’t enough, how about siring at least one Horse of the Year in three successive decades?

1958 — Emilys Pride
1967-68-69 — Nevele Pride
1975 — Savoir (Stars Pride was 28 at the time)

Can this be right?

Barberry Spur, a son of Triple Crown winner Niatross, won the 1986 Jug. That would be the last time a Triple Crown race was won by a horse sired by a Triple Crown winner on the pacing side. The 1983 Triple Crown winner Ralph Hanover wasn’t effective as a stallion, the 1997 winner Western Dreamer is a gelding, the 1999 winner Blissfull Hall had some good ones but was not a player in the Grand Circuit regularly, the 2003 winner No Pan Intended also had some good ones, but not any Triple Crown race winners.

While we’re at it, with the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, only twice has the Kentucky Derby winner been sired by a Triple Crown winner.

The 1935 Derby champ Omaha was a son of Gallant Fox, the 1930 Triple Crown winner. Omaha then became the only Triple Crown winning son of a Triple Crown winner after taking the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

The 1984 Derby champ Swale was a son of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

Did you know?

1. That a division was once decided by a half-vote and it came in the 1989 Hambletonian dead heat year involving the co-winner Park Avenue Joe.
In 1989, the 3-year-old trotting colt ballot had 82.5 votes for Esquire Spur, 82 votes for Park Avenue Joe, 61.5 votes Valley Victory, 19 votes for Demilo Hanover, 7 votes for the other Hambletonian co-winner Probe and five votes for Shogun Lobell.

2. Jacqueline Ingrassia is the first female driver to make over $50,000 in a single race driving (NOT winning)?

In the 1989 Woodrow Wilson at the Meadowlands, she was fourth with Southern Raider in a race with a $907,000 purse; meaning Southern Raider earned $72,560 for fourth money. Southern Raider was sent off at 7.60-1 and was beaten a combined 1 1/4 lengths.

It should be noted that the winner was trained by Big Red — Kelvin Harrison — making this the richest race ever won, at that point, by a trainer from Down Under.

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