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Terrific Trifecta Of Takter Trainees

Published: January 12, 2021 2:17 pm ET

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Heading into awards season, very few participants in the harness racing industry can state definitively that they'll be collecting hardware in the next few weeks. Nancy Takter is one of the exceptions to that rule.

Takter has already been announced as the Trainer of the Year as voted by the United States Harness Writers Association, her first such honour and the only category that was agreed upon unanimously by the voters. Leading the way for Team Takter was the top ranked horse in North American harness racing, sophomore pacing colt Tall Dark Stranger. The favourite for Horse of the Year honours stateside posted a nearly flawless 11-1-0 record from 13 starts with more than $1.4 million in earnings — making him the only seasonal Standardbred millionaire. However, with just two starts in Canada for the Ontario-sired son of Bettors Delight and Precocious Beauty, Tall Dark Stranger did not meet the minimum start criteria for the 2020 O'Brien Awards.

That being said, a trifecta of Takter trainees help comprise the 2020 O'Brien Award list of finalists after solid and successful campaigns on both sides of the 49th parallel. Freshman pacing filly Caviart Audrey won five of nine races and more than $372,000 in her rookie campaign which included victories in the Eternal Camnation and Champlain, along with an elimination and the final of the Shes A Great Lady.

"All her starts in Canada, she raced tough," Takter told Trot Insider. "She's a fast filly, and I think her best racing is in her future."

While that prophecy might be difficult to fill for Caviart Audrey, consider that her first and second dams were champions Darlins Delight and Town Pro — both exceptional two-year-olds that were even better at three. That's not even taking into account that her sire is Somebeachsomewhere, a horse that requires absolutely no introduction in this forum. Time will tell, and that voyage for Caviart Audrey started last week as Takter just brought the filly back into training for her sophomore season.

Speaking of sophomores, a pair of Takter-trained three-year-old trotters also made the short list for the 2020 O'Brien Awards — trotting colt Ready For Moni and trotting filly Sorella.

Ready For Moni boasted a bankroll in excess of $646,000 for his sophomore season, which included five wins in 11 starts. His season was highlighted by a sweep of the Goodtimes, victories in the Zweig Memorial and Stanley Dancer, and a runner-up finish in the Hambletonian.

"He raced tough all year and was super in the Goodtimes," noted Takter. "He’ll be back at four and hopefully get to continue to add to his résumé."

If Caviart Audrey has a license for getting better with age based on pedigree, the same could easily be said for Ready For Moni. The son of Ready Cash and Nothing But Moni carries the bloodlines of two trotting titans: European icon Ready Cash and the great Moni Maker as his second dam.

Ready For Moni will once again winter with Lindy Farms in Florida before shipping north for his older campaign that might see him face off for the first time against fellow O'Brien finalist Pemberton.

"Lucky for him, he doesn’t like the cold," said Takter of Ready For Moni from her New Jersey base, "and lucky for me that I get to go see him there!"

A four-year-old that will be back with Takter sooner than later is Sorella. The Canadian record holder by virtue of her 1:51.3 score in the Casual Breeze, Sorella won eight of 15 races and $737,000, including victories in the Hambletonian Oaks, the Reynolds, Bluegrass and the Matron. The Hambletonian Oaks victory was the highlight of her season, and Takter was so impressed with that performance it begs the question of how she would have stacked up against the open competition in the Hambletonian.

"She was so good that day; it would’ve been interesting to see if the story line would’ve been different if we raced her against the boys," said Takter. "She's a tough filly that raced tough from June to November ... the only one in her division that did that."

With the above trio poised to return to action in 2021 — along with the likes of three-time Breeders Crown winner Manchego and the rapidly-developing No Lou Zing — Takter is optimistic that her stable can pick up right where it left off ... even if Tall Dark Stranger and Kissin In The Sand have moved on from their racing careers:

"After having to say goodbye to a few stable stars, it's nice to have these guys back for next year and some others, too!" she said.

There's no arguing that the depth of Takter's stable contributed greatly to her success in 2020, in both the United States and Canada. But, unfortunately for her and her team, the celebrations otherwise befitting an $8-million season — second only to Ron Burke but remarkably with only a tenth of the starts — will have to be put on hold.

"It really stinks that, after the incredible year my team had in both the U.S. and Canada, we won't be able to go to the awards and celebrate," Takter admitted. "Guess COVID just needs to go away, and we need to do it all over again this year!"

But, by any indications, there's absolutely no reason Team Takter can't enjoy an even better 2021.

The 2020 Virtual O’Brien Awards Gala takes place on Sunday, January 31, 2021 and will be available for viewing on from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. (EST).

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