It was a banner Hambletonian Day for Team Takter.
Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter finished 1-2 in the $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters as Trixton beat Nuncio by a half length on Saturday at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.
Making the victory even sweeter, it was Takter’s first winning Hambletonian drive.
And it didn’t stop there.
Takter also took the companion event for 3-year-old trotting fillies, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit.
Takter became only the second trainer to win the Hambletonian and the Oaks in one year, joining Jan Johnson who sweep both in 1988.
In both instances, Takter won with his “other” horse. Father Patrick, the 2-5 favorite, had won 15 straight for Takter, and looked like a lock heading into the Hambletonian.
That blew up early when Father Patrick a break. Fortunately for Takter, he still had two solid chances.
Nuncio and Hall of Famer John Campbell set a pressured pace. Takter meanwhile worked out a perfect second over trip before tipping three wide turning for home.
It was all Takter in the lane, as his two colts pulled well clear of the pack. The only drama was which one would prevail.
It was Trixton, winning for seventh time in nine starts this season.
“It’s been a great day,” Takter said. “I just won the Oaks. It’s hard to absorb so much good. God gave it to me. I’m so happy.”
To win the Hambletonian as a driver only added to the experience.
“When I have a possible contender, I put the best possible driver up,” Takter said. “This was my shot. If was going to do it, I had to do it today.”
Trixton earned $503,062.50 for owners Brixton Medical A B and Christina Takter.
Trixton trotted the mile in 1:50 3/5, paying $10.60 to win.
The attendance was 20,764 for the first Hambletonian raced before the new, streamlined grandstand on an overcast afternoon following a rainy morning.
They were treated to an extraordinary afternoon of racing that saw the meet leaders enjoy huge days. Yannick Gingras drove five winners, including four major stakes.
Ron Burke sent out four winners, including three top stakes winners.
$500,000 HAMBLETONIAN OAKS
That Takter won the Hambletonian Oaks did not come as a surprise as he sent out Del Miller Memorial winner Shake It Cerry.
Yes, Takter did get the victory, but it was other 3-year-old trotting filly, Lifetime Pursuit that delivered a 10-1 upset.
And she did it in style, beating Designed To Be by 2 1-2 lengths in a world record 1:50 4/5 performance.
She had a little help from a friend.
Shake It Cerry, starting in the second tier, worked her way to front to give Lifetime Pursuit an ideal pocket trip.
Gingras had a ton of filly tugging at the lines when he turned Lifetime Pursuit loose.
“It definitely was a perfect trip,” Gingras said. “She probably needed that to win but she was awesome today. Jimmy pulled her shoes and that was the difference right there. She has always been good gaited but she definitely had more speed in her today.”
Lifetime Pursuit is owned by Brittany Farms.
$355,500 PETER HAUGHTON MEMORIAL
Centurion ATM stamped himself an early contender for next year’s Hambletonian with a 3 3-4 length victory over Uncle Lasse in the Peter Haughton for 2-year-old trotters.
Trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt guided the $100,000 Harrisburg purchase to his second win in four starts.
The time of 1:53 2/5 was a track record for his division. And he was completely under wraps in deep stretch.
The son of SJ’s Caviar is owned by Courant A B and Knutsson Trotting.
“It’s awesome, absolutely fantastic,” co-owner Michael Knutsson said. “Especially on this day. It’s fantastic.”
Last week, Centurion ATM won the single elimination for the Haughton Memorial by 3-1/2 lengths over Uncle Lasse in 1:54.2. It was Centurion ATM’s first victory after second-place finishes in his first two races.
$352,050 MERRIE ANNABELLE
Mission Brief dominated the Merrie Annabelle for 2-year-old trotting fillies, cruising to victory in a world-record equaling 1:52 2/5 for Gingras and Burke.
The New Jersey Sires Stakes champion improved her record to 4 for 5 for Burke Racing , Our Horse Cents Stable, J & T Silva and Weaver Bruscemi.
She was a $150,000 yearling purchase at Lexington.
As the field made the left turn for home, Mission Brief trotted away, putting 8 1-2 lengths between her and Jolene Jolene who passed Lock Down Lindy in the final strides to be third.
$300,650 JOHN CASHMAN JR. MEMORIAL
Sebastian K S continued his dominance of the Free-For-All trotting ranks with yet another crushing victory in the John Cashman Jr. Memorial.
After putting away the pacesetting Archangel, Sebastian K S cruised through the lane under wraps with Svanstedt at the lines,
The time was 1:50, equaling the world trotting record on a mile track.
The 8-year-old posted his seventh win in eight starts this season, beating Market Share, the 2012 Hambletonian winner, by 4 1-4 lengths as the 3-10 favorite.
Archangel held on for third.
$257,700 U.S. PACING CHAMPIONSHIP
Sweet Lou extended his winning streak to eight straight against the top older pacers with a 1 1-2 length victory over State Treasurer.
Ron Pierce drove for trainer Burke as the 5-year-old got his 30th win in 66 starts as he closes in on $3 million in earnings.
“He’s unbelievable,” Pierce said. “He’s a super horse.”
Sweet Lou powered to the front with a move up the backstretch and led the field to the half in :53.1.
From there, Sweet Lou was never threatened. State Treasurer pulled out from second in the stretch, but was unable to make up ground on Sweet Lou.
It was Sweet Lou’s fifth consecutive win in less than 1:48, the longest streak by a standardbred.
Sweet Lou is owned by Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura.
$225,000 NEW JERSEY CLASSIC
Sweet Rock pulled a 92-1 stunner in the premier event for 3-year-olds bred in New Jersey.
Making his debut for trainer Wayne Givens and Legacy Racing of Delaware, R.A. Hazzard and G.P. Galloway, Sweet Rock edged Beat The Drum by a nose in 1:49 4/5.
The $187.80 payoff was a stakes record.
Brett Miller weaved Sweet Rock through a crowded stretch, getting up for a nose tally over Beat The Drum. Bushwacker, who cut the fractions was third by a head in the tight photo.
“I knew absolutely nothing about him,” said Miller. “Just by off the program I was looking at his lines, I mean he looks like a nice colt.
It was the second lifetime win for Sweet Rock who has made 14 starts this year, and 21 lifetime.
$177,750 LADY LIBERTY
Rocklamation capped the huge day for Gingras and Burke, beating Anndrovette by a neck in the Free-For-All for pacing mares.
It was the third win in 11 starts this year for the 6-year-old owned by Our Horse Cents Stable, Stable 45 and J & T Silva.
$100,000 MISS NEW JERSEY
Gettingreadytoroll put away a challenge from Act Now in Thomas D’Altrui Miss New Jersey for state bred 3-year-old pacing fillies.
Gingras and Gettingreadytoroll, the 3-5 favorite, scored by a half-length.
Gettingreadytoroll, the third stakes winner for Takter, is owned by Christina Takter and brothers John and Jim Fielding.
It was her fourth win in eight starts this year, five wins in 10 lifetime, and lifted her bankroll to $105,957.
Natural Herbie shipped in from Hoosier Park to win the Vincennes Free-For-All Invitational in a career-best 1:51 4/5.
The 4-year-old gelding trained, owned and driven by Verlin Yoder extended his winning streak to four. Overall, Natural Herbie got his 19th win in his 38th start.
$52,000 IMA LULA FINAL
Classic Martine held off defending Horse of the Year Bee A Magician by a neck in 1:51 1/5, equaling the world record for 4-year-old trotting mares.
It was the seventh victory in nine starts this season for the Armbro Flight winner.
Tim Tetrick was in the sulky for trainer Chris Oakes and the ownership team of Hauser Brothers Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich and Edwin Gold.
“My mare, it’s probably not her best game on the front, but today we had to do it,” Tetrick said. “She fought it out. (Bee A Magician) raced good but mine was better today.”
While it takes some time to account for all of the money wagered throughout the world, the early returns are in for Hambletonian Day, and they are impressive. Handle for the 15-race program include on-track, North American export, French export and Swedish export stands at $8,523,804. Last year total handle was $7,710,389, marking an increase of 11-percent. The 2014 handle figure does not yet include Australia, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Germany. As it stands now, the $8.5 Million wagered on Saturday is the third highest handle in the History of the Hambletonian, eclipsed only by $9 Million in 2005 and $8.8 Million in 2002.
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