FORT WASHINGTON, MD - For Ron Burke, North America’s leading trainer in victories and earnings, Sunday’s $100,000 Potomac Pace at Rosecroft Raceway is just another pari-mutuel mission. For trainer Buddy Bright, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime and it comes less than a week before his 71st birthday.
Burke will be represented by Filibuster Hanover, the probable favorite, and stablemate Rockin Ron. Bright, a regular at Rosecroft for years, sends out longshot Rock N Roll Jet, a one-eyed pacer and winner of five of the last six Open Paces at the Fort Washington, MD. oval.
It could be a classic case of David vs. Goliath.
Burke’s stable has won over 900 races and more than $20 million this year. Bright’s barn has 16 victories and $114,256.
Filibuster Hanover and Rockin Ron combine for 10 victories and $1.16 million in earnings this year. Rock N Roll Jet has nine victories and $73,975 in earnings.
But as far as horses being on top of their game, it’s Bright’s Rock N Roll Jet that is in the spotlight. The 9-year-old gelding has won his last four starts, all at Rosecroft oval.
“He’s sharp right now,” said Bright. “He won last week from the eight hole. Never saw the wood (rail) and got up in time (by a neck) in 1:51 3/5.”
Bright said Rock N Roll lost his left eye to a fungus four years ago, but that it hasn’t affected his performance.
“He’s the same. He doesn’t care. He just races hard.”
As for upsetting Burke’s two entries, Bright is eager to try them.
I don’t know if we can beat them, but if we draw inside of them, we’ll give a heckuva try.”
Rock N Roll Jet drew the No. 5 post, between Filibuster Hanover (4 hole) and Rockin Ron (8 post).
The Burke trainee has raced in all the top level races this season, but both are on losing streaks. Filibuster Hanover hasn’t won since scoring in the June 10 Graduate at Tioga Downs, having lost his last 13 starts. Rockin Ron’s last victory came in the May 26 Camluck. He has since lost 14 starts.
The victory droughts do not faze Burke.
“I don’t buy into the belief that horses need victories to boost their confidence,” said Burke. “It’s a big mistake to attempting to tie human emotions to horses.”
ROSECROFT EXTRAS: In addition to the $100,000 Potomac Pace, Sunday’s card will feature the $25,000 Maryland Invitational for horses owned, sired or bred in the state, as well as the $15,000 Foiled Again Invitational. Slick Tony and Sams Triple Crown, both eight-time winners this year, head the Maryland Invitational.
Foiled Again, the richest horse in harness history with earnings of $7.6 million, has drawn the No. 9 post for his farewell tour appearance. The Burke-trained Foiled Again is 14 and faces mandatory retirement following his final start on Dec. 31 at The Meadows.