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Takter Poised For Big Weekend

Published: January 31, 2020 4:59 pm ET

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Five years after winning the Canada's Horse of the Year title with two-year-old pacing filly JK Shesalady trainer Nancy Takter once again has a two-year-old Horse of the Year contender, this time one in the form of a Tall Dark Stranger.

Rookie pacing sensation Tall Dark Stranger (Bettors Delight - Precocious Beauty) is one of two Takter trainees up for O'Brien Awards on Saturday (February 1). Takter's Pepsi North America Cup champ Captain Crunch (Captaintreacherous - Sweet Paprika) is a finalist for three-year-old pacing colt of the year against Century Farroh, while Tall Dark Stranger is a finalist for two-year-old male pacer honours with Capt Midnight.

JK Shesalady was a picture of perfection in her two-year-old season for Takter, winning all 12 freshman starts en route to 2014 Horse of the Year honours in both Canada and the U.S.

Tall Dark Stranger had just one blemish on his resume, a second-place finish in his Breeders Crown elimination. He atoned for that loss with a gutsy performance in the 2019 Breeders Crown Final that had him placed the winner after being interfered with in the stretch.

The Breeders Crown win for Tall Dark Stranger lifted his bankroll to $895,993 earned on Canadian soil, the most made in Canada for 2019. Second in Canadian earnings was stablemate and fellow Takter trainee Captain Crunch ($611,136).

"Tall Dark Stranger and Captain Crunch both had really good seasons," Takter recounted. "They were both able to capture major stakes races and set stakes and track records at Woodbine Mohawk Park.

"My team in Canada deserves a lot of the credit for my success in Canada this year," continued Takter. "My assistant trainer Josert Fonseca and caretaker Katie Remmerswaal both did an excellent job this year and deserve much of the credit."

The 2019 season was full of adjustments for Takter after taking over a number of horses for her retired Hall of Fame father Jimmy Takter. She responded with her best season yet, setting personal bests in starts (338), wins (72) and purses ($5.15 million). Of those totals, 17 wins came on Canadian soil with $2.3 million earned on this side of the 49th. Lending heavily to the earnings side of that equation were the wins of Captain Crunch and Tall Dark Stranger in the North America Cup and Metro Pace.

"Captain Crunch's highlight was the North America Cup. The race had eluded my family for years and to be able to bring the trophy home to our farm was a really great feeling."

Captain Crunch won six of 16 races and more than $1 million in earnings. His stakes wins included The North America Cup, Pennsylvania Sires Stakes, Meadowlands Pace elimination, Cane Pace and an elimination of the Progress Pace.

"The Metro Pace stands out for Tall Dark Stranger for me because going into the season that was my main goal for him. I set a plan and stuck to it and it worked out, which is very gratifying."

The gratification didn't end there, as Takter watched the live O'Brien Awards reveal on the Standardbred Canada website to find out both of her talented colts earned awards consideration.

"Obviously anytime your horse and the work they have done during the racing season is noticed it's a great feeling," admitted Takter. "To win an O'Brien Award is one of the highest honours in our sport so I was very pleased that my stable received two nominations."

No stranger to the stage at the Hilton Meadowvale / Mississauga, Takter will be on-hand at the 2019 O'Brien Awards black tie gala on Saturday to celebrate the best in Canadian harness racing over the past season. The night is one the young yet accomplished trainer is thrilled to attend.

"The O'Briens are a great evening. It's nice for everyone to get together one night, get dressed up and celebrate the sport."

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