Team Takter Invades Meadowlands


Saturday morning's session of qualifiers at the Meadowlands marked the return of racing to the New Jersey oval and also marked the return of some major

harness racing talent.

Two of the top two-year-olds from last year, Pastor Stephen and See You At Peelers, were victorious in their respective 2011 debuts. Pastor Stephen, the divisional champion stateside for two-year-old trotters in 2010, was guided to victory by Marcus Johansson with a pocket-popping 1:56.3 score.

Trained by Jimmy Takter for owners Christina Takter, Ontario's John Fielding and Brittany Farms, Pastor Stephen was a winner of six starts in 11 tries as a rookie while banking $664,565. Takter told Trot Insider earlier this month that the biggest change with the son of Cantab Hall from two to three is his attitude.

“The biggest change with him is he’s ten times more mature," said Takter. "Last year, he was a goofball, and I don’t think he had a clue what was going on. Now he’s very focused."

Canadian fans will have to wait until later in the year before seeing Pastor Stephen live on-track.

“There are a couple of sires stakes here, and we’ll aim for the Earl Beal, Jr. at Pocono (eliminations on June 18)," stated Takter. "The final goes for $500,000 and that will be his first major stake target. He’ll do the standard Hambletonian prep schedule of about five or six starts, and we’ll keep him local."

Pastor Stephen's stablemate and fellow Dan Patch Award winner, the undefeated pacing filly See You At Peelers will be on target for the lucrative Fan Hanover after a scintillating 1:53.1 win on the engine for Johansson and Takter, with a final quarter in :26.3.

"Her first major stake is the Empire Breeders Classic at Tioga Downs (eliminations on May 22)," continued Takter. "She’ll definitely be in the Fan Hanover and there’s nothing in Canada before that."

Owned by Fielding along with his brother Jim and Christina Takter, See You At Peelers (Bettors Delight - West Side Glory) ran the table as a two-year-old, going 13-for-13 and amassing $581,649 in earnings. In what could be considered bad news for her divisional rivals, she didn't come back worse for wear after that unbeaten freshman campaign.

“Everything is going according to plan with her. She looks really, really good," noted Takter. "She grew about an inch and a half and added about 100 pounds. She looks more like a real mature horse now."

Merrie Annabelle winner Thatsnotmyname also made a triumphant qualifying return with a 1:58.4 tally. The Windsongs Legacy sister to Muscle Mass and Muscle Massive made miscues in her final two starts at two - both at Mohawk Racetrack - after winning three of her first four starts at the Big M.

Aged pacer Vintage Master, winner of the 2010 Ben Franklin won his qualifier in 1:54.4 by nearly 12 lengths with driver Dan Dube at the controls.

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