Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter typically has some aces in hand heading into a big weekend of major stakes and on the Road to the Hambletonian, Saturday, August 3 at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
On Saturday, Takter sends out a pair of three-year-olds in both the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial and the Max C. Hempt Memorial at Pocono Downs. Those two races, plus the Ben Franklin Free For All, go for $500,000 each. The $300,000 James M. Lynch Memorial is also on the card, which will be available for simulcast wagering at the Meadowlands.
Last year, Takter send out two sophomores in the $1.5 million Hambletonian. He drove Guccio to a close second, and the favorite Uncle Peter finished seventh, placed eighth. Takter won the Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997 and Muscle Massive in 2010.
Currently, Takter appears to have a Hambletonian dynamic duo in world champion Dontyouforgetit, and Corky, who was the New Jersey Sires Stakes Champion as a freshman.
“At this point, I believe Dontyouforgetit and Corky are my top two Hambletonian horses,” admitted Takter. “I thought High Bridge [post one in a $50,000 consolation on Saturday at Pocono Downs] would make the Beal final. He trotted a great mile to finish fourth in his elimination. He’s just slightly behind them right now. Bluto has high speed and Muscle Mountain [post four in race six on Friday at the Meadowlands] was used pretty hard last time. I think Muscle Mountain will race well on Friday.”
Both Dontyouforgetit and Corky won their Beal eliminations in a career best. Dontyouforgetit, ranked fourth on the Road to the Hambletonian top ten list, found room up the inside to score in 1:52.1 last week with Yannick Gingras driving. The $453,569 winner for Solveig’s Partners of East Windsor, NJ added trotting hopples this season and drew post two on a three-race winning streak. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in speed, versatility and determination.
“He’s not the cleanest gaited horse,” noted Takter. “He kind of interferes with himself a little bit, but he’s the most honest little fella I’ve ever been around. If he gets a trip he doesn’t care who’s in front him. Yannick said he felt super, but when he watched the replay he thought the colt didn’t look so good. I told him never mind as long as he felt super.”
Corky, a son of Muscles Yankee, went wire-to-wire in 1:52.4 after a :27.3 third quarter with Dave Miller. He followed up on his first win of the season in a division of the Historic at Tioga Downs in 1:54.4 and a second in the New Jersey Sires Stakes Final at the Meadowlands. The consistent colt, ranked fifth in the Hambletonian top ten, sports a $325,968 bankroll for Christina Takter of East Windsor, NJ and John and Jim Fielding of Toronto, Ontario.
“Corky is such a laid back horse,” said Takter. “I mean, basically he’s very lazy. I drove him once [on May 17], and I couldn’t get him going. I just don’t have the driving skills of Dave Miller. He’s just a strange horse, and I’ve been aiming him more for the Hambletonian than anything. I’m sure he’s going to get a piece of the action on Saturday, and he could win it. He hasn’t been off the board in six starts this year.”
Takter commented on two other Beal entrants.
“Royalty For Life [post one] made a nice recovery from his break, and we know he’s a class horse. He finished second in the Breeders Crown and he’s a fast horse. Smilin Eli hasn’t done anything wrong, but of course post nine is going to compromise anything he tries to do.”
Takter will also be busy on Saturday at Pocono Downs with a pair of contenders in the Hempt, including 2012 Breeders Crown champion and $548,390 winner Rockin Amadeus. The son of Rocknroll Hanover, a Meadowlands Pace eligible, has drawn post four with Yannick Gingras. Bred and owned by Lothlorien of Cheltenham, Ontario, Takter has now trained all five foals of the dam Kikikatie [Rockin Image, Grams Legacy, Time To Kill, Rockin Amadeus and Tellitlikeitis].
“He didn’t come into his elimination last week one hundred percent,” Takter revealed. “He got hurt climbing his stall up in Canada. It was a gash in his knee. We debated whether to race him or not in his elimination for the North America Cup. He was jogging sound, but he didn’t race good [fifth]. Also, his white count was elevated after a trauma like that.
“I thought he raced okay last week [third from post eight], and he had two pretty darn good horses in front of him [Captaintreacherous and Vegas Vacation]. I don’t know if he’s ready to win this, but I think he’s going to step up and put in a good performance.”
Sunfire Blue Chip suddenly emerged as a player in the glamour boy division with an eye-opening 1:48.3 elimination score. Yannick Gingras will drive the son of American Ideal, a full brother to millionaire Heston Blue Chip, and Takter has high hopes for this talented colt.
“He’s a horse I always thought very highly of,” said Takter. “We had to shut him down in April, and he showed us he had some ability. Then, Yannick thought he was a winner in his elimination for the Rooney, but he didn’t handle the turns that well at Yonkers. He just couldn’t use him that hard there. He finished fourth in that final, yet wasn’t really comfortable with the half mile track.
“He came back to win an overnight at Pocono in 1:49.2 [on June 15] before winning his elimination in 1:48.3. He’s the real deal. Unfortunately, we have post eight on Saturday, but you know about the open draw going in, and it kind of makes it interesting. The two top horses in the race have post seven [Vegas Vacation] and nine [Captaintreacherous]. It’s not going to be easy for Captaintreacherous out there. I think it’s going to be a very exciting race.”
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