Thursday, August 14, 2014

Father Patrick Ready to Roll Again

By Ken Weingartner

Three-year-old trotter Father Patrick is ready to get back to action Sunday in a division of the Tompkins-Geers Stakes at Tioga Downs in New York, looking to return to his winning ways after going off stride in the Hambletonian, snapping a 15-race unbeaten streak.

His driver, Yannick Gingras, is ready too.

“Win or lose, I’d always be looking forward to getting back on the track with him,” Gingras said. “He’s a great horse. He’s provided me with great thrills so far, and I’m sure there are plenty more to come.

“I’m looking forward to showing everybody what a great horse he is.”

Father Patrick’s return is part of a card that features 10 Tompkins-Geers divisions for trotters and pacers. Among the horses competing Sunday are 3-year-old male pacer JK Endofanera, who earlier this year won the North America Cup, and multiple stakes-winning 3-year-old female pacers Precocious Beauty and Uffizi Hanover.

Trained by Jimmy Takter, Father Patrick has won 16 of 18 career races and $1.26 million. He was the Hambletonian favorite, but drew post No. 10 – the outermost spot on the gate at the Meadowlands Racetrack – and went off stride at the start.

The million-dollar race was won by Trixton, another colt from the Takter Stable, with Takter himself in the sulky.

“I scored (Father Patrick) down pretty hard because I’ve never left with him before,” Gingras said after the race. “I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It’s so unfortunate. Knock on wood, I’ll have another chance. But he never will.”

Gingras, who leads all harness racing drivers in purses with $7.23 million this year, won five stakes races on Hambletonian Day. But he still had difficulty feeling upbeat.

“It was a great day, but I still went home and was very disappointed,” Gingras said. “When you focus on a race for so long, that’s what makes it such a disappointment. There are only a couple million-dollar races and I haven’t won one yet. That day had it all – the million dollars, the Hambletonian, Father Patrick and everything he’s accomplished. It was such a downer. Even though I had a great day, I didn’t feel like celebrating.

“I do still think about it. It’s a race I’ll always want to take back, but you’ve got to live with it now at this point.”

Father Patrick races Sunday in the second of two Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters. His split also includes Datsyuk, who finished sixth in the Hambletonian.

“They said he came out of the (Hambletonian) fine and he trained back good,” Gingras said about Father Patrick. “That was to be expected. There’s nothing wrong with him, so I’m sure he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”

The first of the Tompkins-Geers divisions for 3-year-old male trotters includes Dexter Cup winner Sumatra and Hambletonian fifth-place-finisher Resolve, a colt trained by Takter’s daughter, Nancy Johansson.

Precocious Beauty, who was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old female pacer, and Uffizi Hanover meet in the sole Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old female pacers. Precocious Beauty is coming off a win in the Empire Breeders Classic on Sunday at Tioga.

The Tompkins-Geers for 3-year-old male pacers includes not only JK Endofanera, but Sweet Rock, who won the New Jersey Classic at odds of 92-1 on Hambletonian Day, and New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Doo Wop Hanover.

Among the 2-year-old female trotters in action is Jolene Jolene, who finished second in the Merrie Annabelle Stakes.

“There are a lot of nice horses racing there, that’s for sure,” Gingras said.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Sweet Lou Takes Aim at Dan Patch

By Ken Weingartner

It would be easy for trainer Ron Burke to be confident as he prepares Sweet Lou for Friday’s $250,000 Dan Patch Invitational at Hoosier Park. After all, his 5-year-old pacer brings an eight-race win streak to the event, with an unprecedented stretch of speedy miles to go with it.

But Burke knows Sweet Lou isn’t the only horse streaking into the Dan Patch. Dancin Yankee, the last horse to defeat Sweet Lou, also is among the pacers in the nine-horse field. Dancin Yankee, racing out of the stable of trainer Amber Buter, brings a six-race victory streak to the Dan Patch.

It will be the first meeting between the two horses since Dancin Yankee won the Van Rose Memorial Invitational on May 3 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Sweet Lou finished third, but since then has gone undefeated.

“I think Lou is running into another horse that is racing as good as anyone in the country,” Burke said. “I’m actually nervous. I think that horse is super sharp, career sharp, too.

“There are other horses that could win too, but both those horses are on long win streaks. I think that’s going to be a great race.”

Sweet Lou has won eight of 11 races this year and earned $791,500 for owners Burke Racing, Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Larry Karr, and Phil Collura. His wins include the Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, U.S. Pacing Championship, and Roll With Joe.

His 1:47 victory in the Ben Franklin is the fastest ever on a five-eighths-mile track, breaking the previous mark of 1:47.2 that was shared by Dancin Yankee and Pet Rock.

Sweet Lou has won each of his last five starts in less than 1:48, which is a record. He has been driven during his win streak by Ron Pierce.

For his career, the son of Yankee Cruiser-Sweet Future has won 30 of 66 races and $2.90 million. He was the 2011 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male pacer and earned $1 million at age 3, but picked up only four wins and $348,638 at 4.

“I’m just so happy he’s winning,” Burke said. “It’s enjoyable to watch him race right now. I’ve been such a believer all along and for him to do what we thought he could, nothing feels better.”

Burke, who on Saturday moved past Virgil Morgan Jr. to become the winningest trainer in harness racing history, also sends Bettor’s Edge to the Dan Patch. The 5-year-old gelding has won six of 19 races this season and earned $421,781. He was second to Sweet Lou in the Franklin and Haughton and fourth in the U.S. Pacing Championship.

Dancin Yankee has won 14 of 21 races this year and $315,140 for owners Baron Racing Stable and Rich Lombardo. The 6-year-old son of Yankee Cruiser-Dancewiththebest won the preferred handicap at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in each of his last three starts.

The remainder of the field is Thinking Out Loud, Night Pro, Carol’s Comet, Heston Blue Chip, State Treasurer and Our Lucky Chip.

“It ended up being a really good field,” Burke said.

Following is the field in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line: 1. Dancin Yankee, Tyler Buter, Amber Buter, 8-1; 2. Thinking Out Loud, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 6-1; 3. Night Pro, Peter Wrenn, Dale Decker, 20-1; 4. Carol’s Comet, Aaron Merriman, Ron Potter, 15-1; 5. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 4-5; 6. Heston Blue Chip, Corey Callahan, Linda Toscano, 15-1; 7. Bettor’s Edge, Ricky Macomber Jr., Ron Burke, 10-1; 8. State Treasurer, Jody Jamieson, Ian Moore, 4-1; 9. Our Lucky Chip, Trace Tetrick, Jason Miller, 30-1.

U.S. Trotting Assn.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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Saturday, August 02, 2014


By Darin Zoccali

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., August 2, 2014--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.


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.

Written by John Pricci of Harness Racing Update

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