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Harness Highlights: Burke Sweeps Maple Leaf, Pacing Derby

by Frank Carulli

September 7, 2020

Atlanta etched a new chapter in her storybook career when she won the C$560,000 Maple Leaf Trot at Woodbine-Mohawk Park last Saturday. She upstaged a runner-up finish in last year’s Maple Leaf, won by four lengths in a stakes record-equaling 1:50.4 and topped $2.5 million in earnings for owners Brad Grant, Howard Taylor and Crawford Farms Racing.

North American leader Ron Burke trains Atlanta and Dorsoduro Hanover, who sprung a major upset in the C$540,000 Canadian Pacing Derby later on the card.

Atlanta was dismissed at 5-2 odds after she broke stride as the favorite in the Armbro Flight Stakes in her previous start. She sat fifth while Manchego (Louis Philippe Roy) set a :54.3 half-mile pace and accelerated through a 1:22 third-quarter split. Atlanta picked up cover from defending champ Guardian Angel As (Jody Jamieson) into the far turn and blew past the leaders in the stretch to become the third mare in the last six years to win the Maple Leaf Trot. Lindy The Great (James MacDonald) finished a clear second, four lengths ahead of even-money favorite Gimpanzee (Doug McNair).

“(Atlanta) felt so strong and I had a handful of trot in the last turn and when I tipped her she came off cover like a sports car,” said winning driver Yannick Gingras. “I knew right then even though (Manchego) was up by five that I’d catch (her), she was tremendous.”

The same could be said for Dorsoduro Hanover, who sat 5-deep in the outer flow off a fast pace, swung 6-wide for the stretch drive and powered clear to win The Canadian Pacing Derby by 3-1/2 lengths in 1:48.4. Dancin Lou (Doug McNair) rallied third-over to finish second and complete an $869 exacta.

 It was déjà vu all over again for driver James MacDonald, who guided the 43-1 longshot to the winners’ circle for owners Burke Racing Stable, J&T Silva- Purnel & Libby, Weaver Bruscemi and Wingfield Five. MacDonald won the 2019 Derby with 34-1 Courtly Choice.

Dorsoduro Hanover paid $88 and keyed an $869 exacta with Dancin Lou (Doug McNair), who rallied third-over to finish second.