Mickey Burke has been a horseman all his life. In his early days he showed hunters and jumpers under a Pittsburgh, PA, trainer and resisted encouragement to try jogging his mentor’s string of harness horses. When he finally relented, Burke found himself seriously hooked on Standardbred racing.
Still, the sport remained just a hobby for years after he drove his first race in 1956. In 1982, Burke sold his car dealerships and convinced his family to try racing full time to see if they could make a living at it. Burke’s wife, Sylvia, gave the experiment one year to pay off – the family’s never looked back.
Mickey and Sylvia Burke have raised their five children in the horse business. They’re proud that all have wanted to be involved and grateful for the opportunity the sport has given them to work together as a family and stay close through the racing life. Mickey’s son Ron now works with him full time and shares responsibility for all the horses the Burkes have in training.
The Burkes’ stable may have started from five relatively cheap claiming horses, but today it includes top performers like World Record holder Maltese Artist. He was purchased for $146,000 in 2004 and has won more than $468,000 so far. Overall the Burkes have kept improving every year, going from $1.2 million in 2003, to $1.4 in 2004 and pushing over $3 million in 2005. Their 2005 win total was 289 – up from 222 in 2004.
But Burke takes a practical approach to his family’s success. “I don’t get caught up in records,” he said. “They will be broken and they don’t put food on the table. Even so…I sure am proud of what we do!”
The Standardbred horse is a shared passion for all of the Burkes. Their work to continually improve the health and performance of all their horses has helped create a stable that is both fun and flourishing.
“I love this sport and I have no plans to retire,” said 69-year old Burke. “I’ll do it until the day I just can’t do it anymore.”
Constantly on the lookout for ways to help keep their horses healthy and performing at their best, Mickey and Ron Burke agreed to a trial of SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program with three horses in late 2004.
“Fifteen days after we started the trial we saw a day and night difference,” said Mickey Burke. “There really isn’t anything that works like this product.”
Generally skeptical about new products and their ability to help his horses, even Ron Burke immediately saw the value of SUCCEED.
“We noticed that we could get more quality starts,” Ron Burke said. “They started to look better, then they started racing better.”
And Ron’s observations about SUCCEED haven’t stopped at the training track. In fact, 2005 – the first full year of SUCCEED use – has been a banner year for the Burkes. Their stable has more than doubled their 2004 winnings and their UDR has risen from .307 to .364.
Nearly 100 of the Burke’s horses now receive SUCCEED Digestive Conditioning Program on a daily basis. Ron and Mickey are staunch believers in the product and what it does for the health of their horses.
“We’re not a supplement barn,” Ron Burke said. “We don’t use any supplements but SUCCEED.”
His father echoes his sentiments. “This product has done a world of good,” Mickey Burke said. “We’ve just had the biggest year we’ve ever had. Our feeding program is the same; SUCCEED has been the only change.”