With a barn full of superstar horses, including a couple that he considers the best two- and three-year-old male and female trotters he has ever trained, Jimmy Takter is optimistic about the 2014 season.
Given that Takter, voted three times as trainer of the year and an inductee in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame, he could be headed for another banner campaign.
Takter is excited about the prospects of three-year-old colt trotter Father Patrick, a winner of 10 of 11 races and currently with nine consecutive wins, who won the Breeders Crown last year and the Dan Patch Award for his particular division.
Takter is also looking forward to the sophomore season of female trotter Shake It Cerry, a winner of eight of 11 races, including the Breeders Crown, and also a Dan Patch winner. As if that weren't enough, Takter acquired Nuncio, who was the only one to beat Father Patrick last year, in January when the colt's trainer, Jim Oscarsson, returned to Sweden.
Add in Uncle Peter, a five-year-old who beat standout mare Maven in a recent qualifier, along with numerous quality two-year-olds, and it is easy to understand why Takter is looking forward to competing in all the big races this year.
Takter told Harness Racing Update that he is fortunate to be equipped with better horses than ever, although he has also learned in the last few years how to make them perform to their optimum best.
"It's a lot of good fortune, plus I've developed them myself (better) in the last four or five years," he said in an interview in which he talked about a variety of subjects. "You always try to experiment a little bit in your training methods. With a combination of all those things, the results get better.
"With more experience you see the signs to go on harder or when to back off. Things like that make a big difference when you train young horses. Pushing a horse when it's not ready to be pushed that's very important not to do or push when you're supposed to push. That's something where experience (helps)."
With more than 30 years experience and a who's who of top horses he's trained in both the trotter and pacer sides, Takter is proof that you're never too old to learn.
Father Patrick, whose other big wins came in the Peter Haughton Memorial (by 10 lengths), William Wellwood and Champlain, is expected to make his three-year-old debut some time in May, likely at Pocono Downs in a Sires Stakes race. He is by the Pennsylvania sire Cantab Hall.
"He's been training super," Takter said. "He's a bit older now and he's matured quite a bit actually. Going into a three-year-old season, it's the best horse I've ever had. He's the best colt I've ever developed.
The best horse I ever trained was Moni Maker, but he's the best horse I've developed. I think I saw that potential in him quite early."
With the addition of Nuncio, Takter said it's a privilege to have two quality three-year-old trotters.