Ron Burke and George Brennan are approaching major milestones

by Bob Heyden

Ron Burke, 53, is approaching the $300-million mark.

He is at $297,623,198 through March 24 and no other trainer in the industry is close.

Only these four thoroughbred trainers have more money than Burke and they’re all older than him:

1. Todd Pletcher, 55, $454,843,720

2. Steve Asmussen, 57, $407,648,594

3. Bob Baffert, 70, $341,430,502

4. Bill Mott, 69, $326,488,699

George Brennan, who turns 56 on April 20, is at $199,187,630 through March 24.

He will soon be the seventh member of the $200-million club and the fourth oldest.

John Campbell turns 68 on April 8 and he has held the all-time earnings top spot for an incredible 37 years this July 31.

As of March 25, the 32nd and 33rd leading money-winning drivers in North America were Tim Tetrick and Dave Miller. They are the two richest drivers of the 21st century.


What kind of an impact did the Woodrow Wilson, now over a decade extinct, have?

In the 1980s, eight of the 10 leading money-winning horses were not Horse of the Year.

Even Odds, the 1987 Wilson winner, made more at 2 than his sire, Bret Hanover, did for his entire career. Even Odds made $950,108 and Bret Hanover made $922,616.

* * *

In 1980, the very same weekend Niatross won the Meadowlands Pace, 24-year-old Ron Pierce had two drives 90 miles or so north at Monticello and both were longshots that did little.

In 1987, then 30-year-old Ron Pierce started off The Meadowlands’ meet 1-for-49 and by mid-May was 17-for-286, tied for 16th in the driver standings.

Does this sound like the only driver to win either the Hambletonian or Meadowlands Pace five straight years (from 2007-11)? He was, apparently, a late bloomer.

* * *

One of the craziest race results ever? Maybe the 1981 Sweetheart at The Meadowlands.

Savilla Lobell, the heavy favorite, won for fun but was disqualified. The filly put up was Willow Bust (95-1) with Herve Filion. That filly would not win a single race at 3 (0-for-21).

The top four drivers in the race — in pre-superfecta days — were all driving bombs. Bill O’Donnell was second with Allwin Bunny, John Campbell was third with Elvira Childer and Billy Haughton was fourth with Nut House. If that’s not enough, the winner of the consolation in a faster time (1:57.3 to 1:57.4) was the easy division winner (185 votes to48) Three Diamonds who broke the week before in her first attempt in the mud.

Her 304 divisional votes the following year (1982) remain the most in the sport’s history for any divisional winner.

* * *

April 6 marks the 40th anniversary of the debut of Green With Envy, a daughter of Meadow Skipper trained by Jim Doherty for Anne Rosenberg, the wife of Dunkin Donuts man Bill.

Green With Envy did not race at 2 and only had three wins in 11 starts at 3.

It’s fair to say no one at that point thought we were looking at the 1984 Pacing Mare of the Year.

* * *

The first trainer to have two pacing colts make over $1.7 million in a single season?

Harry Poulton

1984 — On The Road Again — $1,751,695

1988 — Matts Scooter — $1,783,552

* * *

October 1986, John Campbell ventured to Freehold and won eight on a single card. Thirty-seven years later that still holds.

* * *

The 1980s were also a decade of profound sadness. We lost so many top horsemen due to accidents, on or off the track: Bobby Samson, Peter Haughton and then his dad Billy, Shelly Goudreau, Jim Rankin, David Dunckley, Vern Crank and Lew Williams.


Marion Marauder won it and remains the sport’s last Triple Crown winner.

In that same race, the all-time leading Triple Crown race driver, John Campbell, made his final appearance in a Triple Crown race.


Which is more impressive? Nelson Rockefeller, future vice president of the United States or Redskin, the single-season all-time winningest 2-year-old in the sport’s history, trotter or pacer? 

Rockefeller appeared on the front page of the New York Times the day he was born, July 8, 1900.

Redskin, within hours of his foaling, appeared in Hoof Beats greeting children in his stall.


Unofficially, I am going with Mal Burroughs, 112. He won the 1997 Hambletonian with Malabar Man.

For his career, Burroughs’ UDRS versus the pros was .357 and versus the amateurs was .287.