Friday, August 01, 2014

Johansson v Takter v All in Hambleltonian

Story by Rich Fisher

The fact that trainer Nancy Johansson will make her Hambletonian debut against her dad, Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter, is one of the big storylines entering Saturday’s race.

And while Johansson understands and appreciates the interest, it’s not something that’s really on her mind. Especially since, hey, there will be other trainers there too!

“It’s no different to race against him than anybody else,” said Johansson, who trains Hambletonian starter Resolve, adding with a laugh. “It’s a horserace, there has to be other horses in there. He’s one of the top trainers with one of the biggest barns, so I expect him to be there.”

The two have teamed up for previous Hambletonian success, as Nancy was the caretaker for Takter’s 2010 winner, Muscle Massive. She grew up learning the trade under Jimmy, who also won the 1997 Hambletonian with Malabar Man, having said in the past “I tell people that from going to my dad’s ‘school’ I got a PhD in training.”

But neither wants to mix business with pleasure, especially when it comes to head-to-head competition.

“We don’t talk about it,” Nancy said. “When we have family time, we talk about grandkids or other stuff.

“But we’re both very competitive. I think deep down inside, if somebody beats him he would want it to be me. But it’s really deep down because he really wants to win first himself.”

And Takter has a good chance this year with favorite Father Patrick, along with two other highly regarded horses in the race – Trixton and Nuncio.

This won’t be the first time father and daughter pitted their Hambletonian horses against each other. On July 19, Resolve finished second to Nuncio in the Reynolds Stakes.

Resolve has won two of seven races this year and hit the board six times. He has four wins in 19 career starts, earning $45,950.

The horse is owned by Hans Enggren, who won the 1985 Hambletonian with Prakas. Enggren is looking for another shot at Hambletonian glory, which is why he bought Resolve just a few weeks ago.

“He was pretty much purchased with the idea he was going to race in the Hambletonian,” Johansson said. “Hans is getting up in age and he wants another go at the Hambletonian. He had seen the horse last year and liked him.”

Enggren saw him again early in the spring and liked him just as much, if not more, but Resolve was not for sale. When he was put on the market, Hans made his move.

“We knew that if he raced good in the Reynolds he was going to the Hambletonian,” Johansson said. “I didn’t really expect him to race that good, so that was a good surprise. He’s been solid all year.

“He’s a nice horse. I think he’s going to mature into a nice older horse. He’s not staked to a lot this year, so he’s going to have a kind of low-key 3-year-old season.”

Winning the Hambletonian would certainly turn the key up a notch, and Johansson is happy with drawing the No. 1 post. But she was unhappy to see her dad’s top horse get stuck in the difficult 10 hole.

“The draw helped us, but I didn’t like to see Father Patrick draw bad,” Johansson said. “He deserves to win the Hambletonian because he’s just such an extremely fine animal. With post 10, anything can happen.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if things shake out differently than expected, too.”

One of Takter’s trademarks is trying new things with a horse entering a final. Nancy is unsure if that will be necessary with Resolve.

“I don’t know yet. We’ll see,” she said. “We changed a lot on the horse already. I think you have to be careful how much you change in a short amount of time.

“I feel pretty confident we have him the way we want him. He trained absolutely fantastic (Wednesday) morning. I couldn’t ask for a better training session than he had (that) morning. I don’t really feel like there is anything we need to take care of. Everything feels very even keel right now. It’s a good situatioAnd, as far as Johansson is concerned, a situation like any other when it comes to the trainers she will be facing in this race.

Harness Racing Communications, USTA

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Hambletonian Attracts 11 – Wagerng Format Announced

With 11 horses entered in The Hambletonian, the three year old colts will go straight to the Final worth $1,006,125. The Hambletonian will be carded as race 13 on the 15 race program.

The Jimmy Takter trained trio of Father Patrick, Nuncio and Trixton will headline the field for the 89th American Trotting Classic.

Joining those three are Datsyuk, Don Dorado, Doncango, Harper Blue Chip, Il Sogno Dream, JJ Alex, Resolve and Royal Ice.

The Hambletonian post position draw will take place at 4PM at Victory Sports Bar along with the draw for The John Cashman Memorial and Hambletonian Oaks.

Hambletonian Day Wagering Format Announced

With no eliminations required for The Hambletonian, the wagering format for Hambletonian Day becomes more enhanced since the field for the Hambletonian Final will be known all week as opposed to last year when the field was not known until mid-card on Hambletonian Day.

Hambletonian Day will offer and unprecedented five guaranteed pools of $50,000 or more, including three pick four wagers.

A $50,000 Guaranteed $.50 Cent Pick 5 will kick off the program in the first race, followed by a $50,000 Guaranteed $.50 Cent Pick 4 in Race 3. From there, the guarantees ramp up to a $.50 cent Pick 4 in Race 7, guaranteed at $75,000. Next is a $75,000 Guaranteed Pick 5 beginning in Race 9 that is anchored by The Hambletonian Final itself.

Last, but certainly not least is a $100,000 Guaranteed $.50 Cent Pick 4 beginning with The Hambletonian Oaks which includes The Hambletonian Final and covers the last four races on the program. There will be Win, Place, Show, Exacta and Trifecta Wagering on all races. There will also be $.10 Cent Superfectas offered on all races.

The Wagering Format in detail is as follows.

Race 1: $.50 Cent Pick 5 ($50,000 Guaranteed) – Daily Double - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 2: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 3: $.50 Cent Pick 4 ($50,000 Guaranteed) - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 4: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 5: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 6: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 7: $.50 Cent Pick 4 ($75,000 Guaranteed) - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 8: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 9: $.50 Cent Pick 5 ($75,000 Guaranteed) - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 10: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 11: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 12: $.50 Cent Pick 4 ($100,000 Guaranteed) - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 13: Pick 3 - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 14: Daily Double - $.10 Cent Superfecta

Race 15: $.10 Cent Superfecta

Written by Darin Zoccali of Harness Racing Update

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Archangel - Fastest Trotter in Meadowlands History

By Darin Zoccali

East Rutherford - Many of the sport’s stars were out on Saturday night at The Meadowlands and none shown brighter than Archangel who won the first elimination for the John Cashman, Jr Memorial trot in a world record 1:50 flat. The mile broke a six-way tie for the fastest mile ever by a trotter on a mile track.

Yannick Gingras sent the handsome five year old millionaire son of Credit Winner out fast for the lead with a wicked 26.1 opening quarter then set even fractions of 54.4 and 1:22.3 in the record mile. Archangel was eared down length and a three quarter winner over Intimidate with Market Share third. Your So Vain and Sevruga round out the qualifiers from this elimination for next Saturday’s $300,000 final.

Gingras had high praise for Archangel in the post-race interview, “I told his caretaker Sarah I was gonna roll him. He has the ability, just hasn’t been lucky. He was staying with Sebastian K in the 1:49 mile at Pocono when he broke on the turn. I think he’ll give Sebastian some competition in the final, I’d take it if I could cut the mile against him next week in the final.”

Ron Burke trains the winner for Legendary Standardbred Farm and Claire Semer.

Sebastian K was back to his winning ways in the second elimination for Ake Svanstedt with an easy three length score in 1:51. The race began with Creatine flying off the wings from the outside for Mike Lachance and clearing Sebastian as they reached the quarter in a dazzling 26 flat.

The pace slowed abruptly when Lachance took up on the lead and Svanstedt was forced to yank Sebastian K out quickly before Mister Herbie could get the jump on him from third. He got out, though the judges flashed inquiry and reviewed the move, and back to the top.

Sweet Justice mounted a final turn challenge but was rebuffed with a 27.3 final quarter. Mister Herbie split horse late to be second, Uncle Peter third in his return to US soil, Appomattox a solid fourth and Arch Madness captured the final berth in next week’s race.

The winner is trained in the Svanstedt barn for Knutsson Trotting and was winning for the sixth time this year in seven tries.

The 2014 Hambletonian Oaks did not require eliminations and Racing Secretary Peter Koch offered the entrants the chance to race in a $35,000 prep. Nine of the eleven accepted but the field was reduced to eight with the defection Cooler Schooner, a sick scratch.

Designed To Be and Shake It Cerry would square off again in what would prove to be a driver’s race. Posted just to the right of Designed To Be and Brian Sears, Ron Pierce send Shake It Cerry away crisply to secure the lead, repelled the mild bid Sears offered from the pocket then slowed the pace through the middle fractions. Clearance would not be availed to Designed To Be again until deep in the stretch and by then Pierce had used Cerry’s quickness to pad the cushion on her rival, which diminished to a half-length at the wire. Lifetime Pursuit was third.

Shake It Cerry is trained in the Jimmy Takter stable for Solveig’s Racing Partners. It was her fourteenth win in eighteen career starts and she has earned over $1 million.

It sets up to be a very interesting contest in the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks next Saturday afternoon.

The United States Pacing Championship drew nine entries that will all advance directly to next Saturday’s $257,700 final and a $40,000 tune-up was offered to that group as well. Sweet Lou has been invincible since uniting with Pierce mid-May and would add another sub 1:48 mile to his résumé in this one with a 1:47.3 score. Pierce brushed the flashy pacer to the front near the 54.1 half then strung together 27.2 and 26 flat quarters to close it out.

Captaintreacherous went a big trip to be second, coming from last in the field of seven at the half and pacing his individual final half 52 flat and 25.4 last quarter to be beaten less than two lengths. Thinking Out Loud also raced great, surviving an uncovered run at Sweet Lou and living to tell of it, finishing third.

The winner is trained in the Ron Burke stable on behalf of owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi, Larry Karr and Phil Collura. He has now won his last seven starts, all in 1:48.3 or better with a five eighths mile track world record of 1:47 flat the fastest.

The Lady Liberty required a single $40,000 elimination when eleven Free For All quality pacing mares dropped in the box. A free pass to the $177,750 final in the form of a bye was offered to the top seasonal money winners and after a few declined (more on that later) Ron Burke accepted for Rocklamation. The remaining ten went to the post with their assignment to avoid be last and thus eliminated.

They raced it out like it was for the big money here, with Corey Callahan sending Drop The Ball out hard, yielded to Shelliscape for a step then removed and took on all comers. Dead game to the wire, Drop The Ball held sway in 1:49.2 using a 26.4 final quarter to seal the deal. Jerseylicious was a closing second and Charisma Hanover third.

On the flip side, division leader Androvette’s connections declined the bye, then she finished last of the ten (though beaten a mere 3 ½ lengths) and is, at this point, eliminated from the final.

When Drop The Ball is good, she’s really good and she’s looking pretty good lately for trainer Ross Croghan and her owners; Let It Ride Stable, Mentally Stable and Dana Parham. She won the right to select her post for the final and she’ll have to be dealt with.

Things are shaping up nicely for a fantastic end to the 2014 Championship Meet with next Saturday’s Hambletonian program.

On the wagering front, total handle for the Saturday program yielded an increase of nearly 10-percent from the same program in 2013, while live handle was up nearly 15-percent.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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