September 2015 Issue - page 8

Page 8
September 2015
PENNSYLVANIA EQUESTRIAN
Mission Brief and Habitat Are Winners for Trainer Ron Burke
by Kimberly French
Although Mission Brief is
the Ron Burke trainee that has
grabbed all the headlines, her
stablemate Habitat also deserves
his fair share of ink. Although
both horses failed to capture
the $1 million Hambletonian on
August 8, they will attempt to
return to the winners’ circle, a
place each is very familiar with,
when they continue their 2015
campaigns in the coming weeks.
The duo also provides Burke
with a powerful one-two punch
to capture any top trotting
event.
“I know Mission Brief was
beaten in the Hambletonian,”
Burke said. “But I am not at all
disappointed in her finishing
second. Maybe if she had drawn
another post things would have
been different. Pinkman (the race
winner) is a very nice horse. But
I really like how she came off the
race and I think we have her back
issues ironed out now. We’ve
definitely been doing a lot of
work on it. Habitat is just always
so consistent. He got a horrible
outside trip in the Hambletonian
but he bounced right back.”
Mission Brief, a daughter
of Muscle Hill and the Varenne
mare Southwind Serena, will
return to take on rivals of her
gender for the time being. Owned
by Burke Racing Stable, Our
Horse Cents Stable, J&T Silva
Stables and Weaver Bruscemi,
she will have regular pilot Yan-
nick Gingras in the bike for the
rest of the season. Burke has not
ruled out another race against the
boys as the Kentucky Futurity at
The Red Mile is a possible long
range goal.
Habitat, who is owned by
Burke Racing Stables, Our Horse
Cents Stable and Weaver Brus-
cemi, is also regularly steered by
Gingras, currently the leading
driver in North America in purse
money won. The son of Conway
Hall and the Muscles Yankee
mare Habit’s Best will also stay
close to home until the Grand
Circuit reaches Lexington the last
week in September.
“I’m not really concerned
about Habitat’s post positions,”
Burke said. “I have the best driv-
er in the world on him to put him
in a good spot off the gate and I
don’t think post position really
matters on the bigger tracks.
After that bad trip in the Hambo
(7th) he was having his picture
taken in the Tompkins-Geer on
August 16. I thought Mission
Brief raced super in the Zweig
last month. I know how I feel
when my back bothers me so I
can only imagine what it is like
for her. She fought back on the
inside but I don’t think she ever
saw that other filly (Spirit To
Win) coming on the outside. You
also have to give it to that other
filly, Mission Brief trotted her last
quarter in :26.3 and the winner
trotted in :26 flat. She also gave
it her all in the Hambo. She was
only beaten three quarters of a
length and simply had too much
to do in the stretch. It was a val-
iant effort.”
To date, Mission Brief, the
sport’s swiftest ever 2-year-old
trotter, has amassed just under
$1,066,417 with a record of
19-13-2-0 and her world record
mark of 1:50.3m. This year she
has raced six times with four
triumphs and two second place
finishes. Her loss in the $187,000
Delvin Miller Memorial on July
18 is the first time she has not
won while staying on stride.
“I was not as worried about
winning the Hambletonian with
her because I do have Habitat,”
Burke said. “But I sure did like to
have her in there. She is an amaz-
ing horse and winning a race like
that changes lives, plus it would
have been nice to have that win
next to her name. It just wasn’t
meant to be.”
Habitat has collected
$834,841 in his racing career.
Last year’s O’Brien Award
winner for his age, sex and gait,
his record stands at 25-12-4-2.
In 2015, his resume stands at 12-
5-2-0, he’s earned $343,000 and
set his lifetime mark of 1:53.0
on July 4 at Pocono Downs. He
was ranked second behind only
Pinkman in the Hambletonian
contenders poll.
“If there is one word to de-
scribe Habitat it is class,” Burke
said. “He’s the quietest $800,000
winner you will ever see. He is
also very good gaited and easy to
drive.”
Although the Hambletonian
is in the books and it did not turn
out exactly the way he had hoped,
Burke certainly is looking ahead
to the rest of the fall’s major races
with his two horses.
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