USA’s ‘Mr 10,000’ goes shopping at Karaka

By Garrick Knight

Most in attendance at the Karaka yearling sale on Monday probably didn’t realise that American racing royalty was roaming the grounds among them.

Ron Burke, who recently became the first man to train 10,000 winners in North America and is best known as the former trainer of Sweet Lou, is in New Zealand for the best part of three weeks on a working holiday.

Burke was a guest of Christchurch trainer Cran Dalgety, who trains a handful of Sweet Lou progeny for Burke and the sire’s owner, Larry Karr, including handy three-year-old, Im A Gigolo.

Burke went to $35,000 to secure Mitsi Gaynor, a Sweet Lou filly out of a Bettor’s Delight daughter of former Filly of the Year, Copper Beach.

He’s also taking a share in Dalgety’s $80,000 colt, Casino Action, a Bettor’s Delight from the family of Christen Me out of the Woodlands Stud draft.

“We got that one that my group bought and we’re going to buy in to one of Cran’s, too,” Burke told HRNZ.

“We lost out on another Bettor’s Delight and I wish we’d gone to a little bit more but, whatever, it is what it is.”

Burke’s operation dwarfs anything that exists down under, its sheer size and scale daunting to even think about.

“We have 300 on the books and there’s probably 28 or 29 assistant trainers under me.

“But I’m still in charge of everything.

“Each barn has a head guy, but I know every day what every single horse is doing.

“People think it’s running on auto pilot. No, not the case.

“But, you’ve got to love it and I do, and my guys do as well.

“Every barn has a guy that could easily do it on their own, I just thank god that they’re with me and we’re doing it together.”

With an operation that size, it’s safe to say Burke doesn’t get away all that often.

“It’s tough now, even being away for 19 days, which is the longest I’ve ever been away from the stable.

“But it’s very nice here; a different atmosphere than the American sales.

“A little bit quieter but easier to understand. I liked it.

“And you don’t tire out as much as the American sales. They’re a little more high pressure and intense.”

Burke will leave his yearling colt with Dalgety at West Melton.

“We’re trying to support Sweet Lou here and everything, you know.

“Cran we really like and are happy with how everything’s gone that way.

“I’d also like to try and buy a couple of racehorses to take home.

“A couple of high end horses for Yonkers, The Meadowlands, places like that.

“So, hopefully we can get something done.”

Buying up-and-going horses from New Zealand is not something Burke has done often.

“The thing is, I really wanted to do it myself.

“I’m very particular and like my kinds of horses. That’s not necessarily the best horses; they’re just the horses that fit me best.”

“I’m a little bit different to everybody else but horses that suit other people don’t suit me and some horses don’t suit other people that do suit me.

“I’m just lucky I get supported real well with people behind me like Larry Karr and Mark Weaver

“That makes it so much easier.

“It’s not hard to be a good trainer when you get a good horse.”


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