Handicapper Blog

Posted by Ken Warkentin on Thursday, August 07, 2014 10:27 AM

The Takter Factor annually resurfaces for the stakes season and the Hambletonian.


It’s a potent combination of a Harvard-like foundation, sheer talent, expert yearling selection, state of the art operation, meticulous management and a passion for winning the classics.


With his proven formula for success, Swedish-born Jimmy Takter continues to rank among harness racing’s top trainers, his stable had another fabulous season in 2013, and it's no surprise Takter is back stronger than ever in 2014. 


In 2012, Takter reached the pinnacle of his career by being inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame.  The 53-year-old entered the pantheon of honorees at the height of a brilliant, exemplary career and fittingly during his first $9 million season.


This season, Takter was going for his third Hambletonian with not one, but three of the top rated sophomore trotting colts on the Road to the Hambletonian top ten list:  Father Patrick, Trixton and Nuncio. 


Father Patrick was Takter’s 2013 freshman standout, who romped in the Peter Haughton Memorial in 1:54.1 with Meadowlands leading driver Yannick Gingras.  The Cantab Hall colt put together a nine-race winning streak, which also included the William Wellwood Memorial and the Breeders Crown.  The overwhelming choice for the Dan Patch Award as division champion was six-for-six going into the Hambletonian after his fifteenth straight win, and Takter declared him “the horse he’s always been waiting for who’s really, really special”.  Unfortunately, Father Patrick lost all chance by making a rare miscue at the start from post ten.


From what we had seen in 2014, the lightly-raced Trixton certainly had a chance to be better than his top ranked stablemate.  This Muscle Hill colt unleashed a stunning 1:51.2 mile at the Meadowlands in the Simpson Stakes in only his second start of the season on May 9.  He came back to win again with an eye-catching rally in the slop on May 16, then equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in the New Jersey Sires Stakes Final on May 31 with Takter in the bike. 


Trixton came into the Hambletonian fresh off another easy win in a Reynolds division in 1:51.4.  Takter called Trixton “a perfect ten in every category”.  Trixton was the second highest priced yearling of 2012 at $360,000.  Takter won his second Hambletonian in 2010 with $425,000 yearling purchase Muscle Massive.  The Hall of Famer added his third when he guided a parked out Trixton past a roughed up Nuncio in 1:50.3, the second fastest Hambletonian ever.  Takter also finished one-two in 1997 with Malabar Man and Take Chances.


Nuncio, the only horse to beat Father Patrick in a Peter Haughton Memorial elimination last year, was sent to Takter this season, and the son of Andover Hall arrived at the big dance fresh off a career best of 1:51.3 in a Takter sweep of the Reynolds divisions.  Six-time Hambletonian winning driver John Campbell noted, “Jimmy’s got him settled down and he’s got so much trot when he’s relaxed.” 


Takter’s filly trotting star was also shining brightly on Hambletonian Day 2013 as Shake It Cerry set a stakes and track record of 1:53.3 in the Merrie Annabelle with Ron Pierce in the sulky.  The Donato Hanover filly set a stakes record in the Breeders Crown, and Pierce declared her by far the best two-year-filly he’s ever driven.  Shake It Cerry capped her Dan Patch Award winning freshman season going past $800,000 with another easy win in the Goldsmith Maid in 1:53.4.  Shake It Cerry has continued her dominant ways in 2014, winning six of seven this season before finishing fourth from post 11 in the Hambletonian Oaks.  Her stablemate Lifetime Pursuit pulled a 10-1 upset in a world record of 1:51.4, giving Takter an Oaks grandslam.


In 2013, the titanic Takter twosome of four-year-old trotters Guccio and Uncle Peter banked a combined $1 million.  Guccio, the 2012 Hambletonian runner-up, lowered his mark to 1:51.1 and attained millionaire status.  Guccio retired to stand stud in Indiana in 2014.  Uncle Peter trotted a world record of 1:50.3 at Pocono Downs, won the Centaur Trotting Classic in a 1:52.3 track record at Hoosier Park.  The son of Cantab Hall, who was the beaten favorite in the 2012 Hambletonian, has returned as a five-year-old.


Last year, Takter sent out three Hambletonian finalists, Corky, High Bridge and Dontyouforgetit, and finished third in the final with Corky.  Corky also won the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial at Pocono Downs.  Takter drove To Dream On to an upset in the Kentucky Filly Futurity, and Little Brown Fox completed a Takter triple on Hambletonian Day winning the Vincennes Trot in 1:53.3.


Both Father Patrick and Shake It Cerry won Breeders Crowns, and with Uffizi Hanover also capturing the Two Year Old Filly Pace, Takter had his second straight Crown triple.  In doing so, Takter broke a tie with Bob McIntosh and became the leading trainer in Breeders Crown history with 18 trophies.


Nicknamed “Trotting Master,” Takter made a smooth transition onto the pacing side years ago, producing a steady stream of lateral-gaited champions. 


Gettingreadytoroll won the $100,000 Miss New Jersey in 1:50.1 as part of a Jimmy Takter Hambletonian Day triple.


In 1997, the three-time Trainer of the Year was voted the Stanley Dancer Media Award by USHWA-NJ for his exemplary relationship with media.  You can call Jimmy anytime and he’s always got time for you to talk horses.


In 2014, the Takter Factor has kicked in again!


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Ken Warkentin has been a member of the award-winning broadcast team at Meadowlands Racetrack as the Track Announcer and television commentator for 25 years. Ken has appeared on national television networks such as ESPN, called 15 editions of the $1 million Hambletonian, and worked as a member of the broadcast team for NBC Sports and CBS Sports.

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