Maryland Native Burton Digs in at Rosecroft
Posted 249 days
Tuesday’s 12-race program features Pick 5 Carryover
First Race Post at 6:40 p.m.
Six Maryland-Sire Stakes Begin Tuesday at 5 p.m.
FORT WASHINGTON, MD - The morning after driving Real Passing Lady to the Rosecroft winner’s circle for his first victory of the fall meet, Brian Burton was in a pumpkin patch with his four children.
“This is something not everyone gets the chance to do with their kids on a Friday morning,” Burton said.
Ironically, it wasn’t too long ago that Burton, a mainstay on the Maryland harness racing circuit the past 15 years, thought he would have a more conventional career. A native of Cambridge, Md., Burton had graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in English and a secondary degree in Journalism.
“Out of college I did have an internship with a couple newspapers,” Burton said. “I wanted to cover sports. But, man, I thought this is a cutthroat business. This is rough.”
Sales jobs at Sears, Hyatt and a conveyor belt company brought Burton, a third generation horseman, to the realization that he had a “yearning for open spaces.” It also brought him to the realization that he fit into what he calls the “blue collar” world of harness racing
“My grandfather (Jack) raced up-and-down the East Coast,” Burton said. “I probably started coming around Rosecroft when I was 12. It started like a hobby and blossomed into a racing business. My father Martin had a farm with [standardbred] horses and raced locally for a long time. I worked out a deal with my dad and got my driver’s license and I’ve been doing it ever since. I have about 10 that I own or own with other people and the whole barn has about 15 horses. I’m not just training my own but breaking horses on the side.”
Not only does Burton believe in Rosecroft - a track he says is a “great place to start young horses over a great surface” - but he also believes the sport of harness racing is accessible to everybody.
“I think this sport is a working-class sport,” he said. “It doesn’t cost a lot to own a horse compared to other sports. I have guys who own horses with what you might call regular jobs, blue-collar jobs. I have an owner who owns his own heating and air conditioning company. It’s a sport you can enjoy. The horses race more often than thoroughbreds, you can enjoy the races with your family, and, like when I was a kid, I’d come out to the barns in the morning and hang around the horses.
“I think it’s going to get better. We’ve already seen changes that The Stronach Group has done, including the new infield television and the paved paddock. It’s like shock-and-awe when you get here.”
Rosecroft will run 12 races Tuesday evening with a first race post of 6:40 p.m. and a Pick 5 carryover with a low 12-percent takeout of $1,398. Beginning at 5 p.m., Rosecroft will run six races as part of the Maryland Sire Stakes.