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Nuncio Seeks His Second 'Jewel'

Published: October 22, 2014 6:57 pm ET

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“Father Patrick, he’s [Wayne] Gretzky or Michael Jordan. There’s no effort. Nuncio really has to work at it to be what he is. The other one, he’s just got it. But Nuncio has got a hell of an attitude; a great attitude.”

A half-length loss in the Hambletonian Stakes prevents Nuncio from a chance at history, but the three-year-old male trotter can add to his credentials with a win in Saturday’s $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway.

The Yonkers Trot is the third jewel in harness racing’s Trotting Triple Crown. Nuncio finished second to stablemate Trixton in the first leg, the Hambletonian, and defeated stablemate Father Patrick by one and a quarter lengths in the second leg, the Kentucky Futurity.

Nuncio, trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by John Campbell, will start in the eight-horse Yonkers Trot from post No. 2. The colt has won nine of 14 races this year, including his Yonkers Trot elimination last week, and earned $1.04 million for owner Stefan Melander’s Stall TZ Inc.

The most recent horse to win the Trotting Triple Crown was Glidemaster in 2006. The last horse to capture two jewels and finish second in the remaining leg was Mack Lobell in 1987.

Takter has won the Yonkers Trot three times; Campbell has won twice.

“John was very pleased with him [last week],” Takter said about Nuncio, who brings a three-race win streak to Yonkers. “He was very strong in the stretch. He’s in great form. The horse is sharp.”

Nuncio has never finished worse than second in any of his 24 career starts, posting 14 victories while earning over $1.5 million. Eight of Nuncio’s 10 second-place finishes have come behind Father Patrick, who leads all harness racing horses in purses this season with $1.41 million. Takter did not enter Father Patrick in the Yonkers Trot.

“That’s very difficult, especially racing in all the major stakes,” Takter said, referring to Nuncio finishing first or second in all his starts. “He’s got a fantastic resume. He’s a really hard worker."

New York Sire Stakes champion Gural Hanover, who won the other Yonkers Trot elimination, starts from post No. 1 with Jim Morrill Jr. driving for trainer Ron Burke.

Saturday’s card at Yonkers also includes the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for three-year-old pacers and the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational, along with the $150,854 Lady Maud for three-year-old female pacers and $124,590 Hudson Trot for three-year-old female trotters.

The Messenger is the third leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. Takter’s Lyonssomewhere won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, and starts the Messenger from post No. 3. Limelight Beach, who won the second leg of the Crown, the Little Brown Jug, did not enter the Messenger.

Lyonssomewhere went off stride while leading his elimination in the Little Brown Jug and failed to advance to the second heat.

“He could have won the Jug if he didn’t do whatever he did in the last turn,” Takter said. “It was like the biggest shock of the year. If he won his elimination, he would have had a hell of a shot at it. It’s the small details. You’ve got to click. That’s why it’s tough to win it.”

Luck Be Withyou, who won the Messenger elimination last week, starts from post five with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Chris Oakes. The field also includes multiple stakes winners McWicked and All Bets Off.

The last horse to win the Pacing Triple Crown was No Pan Intended in 2003.

Sebastian K, history’s fastest trotter with a mark of 1:49, headlines the International Trot Preview, which also features European star Commander Crowe and 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who is the only female trotter in the eight-horse event.

Commander Crowe is making his first start in North America since the 2012 Breeders Crown. He will stay in the U.S. to compete in this year’s Breeders Crown in November at the Meadowlands.


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.

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