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Keeping Up With Katz

Published: April 13, 2012 8:02 pm ET

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While owner Marvin Katz looks forward to another successful season with Metro Pace winner Simply Business, the Toronto-based businessman will keep a watchful eye on two more promising three-year-olds

in the Spring Survivor Series on Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

Rockndream (program number 1A, post six) and Arts Ideal Hanover (program number 1B, post eight) are part of a three-ply entry for trainer Jimmy Takter, which includes One Through Ten (program number one, post 5). Both Rockndream and Arts Ideal Hanover are co-owned by Katz, his longtime partners Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband, Christina Takter and Brixton Medical Ab. The $15,000 Semifinal is carded as the second on a 13-race program.

Rockndream, a gelding by Rocknroll Hanover, broke his maiden in the first bracket of the series in 1:53, then finished second to the series favourite Breakin The Law.

“Rockndream trained down with Simply Business as a two-year-old, yet he didn’t quite have the panache that Simply Business had,” recalled Katz. “Jimmy thought Simply Business was the better one when they got down to 2:10. Rockndream qualified well and looked like he was a stakes colt right away. We brought him to Canada and he seemed to hit a wall. It’s taken him most of the winter to get him started back up again. He still hasn’t shown that he’s a top end horse yet.”

The more lightly-raced Arts Ideal Hanover is a gelding by American Ideal. He scored his first win in 1:54.2 before finishing second to Breakin The Law.

“Arts Ideal Hanover got injured early in his freshman season, when he was only [pacing] around 2:30,” said Katz. “Jimmy thought he had terrific high speed, and still thinks he has a lot of ability. He’s only made three starts and has a tough assignment on Saturday with post eight. We’re trying to manage him right and it looks like he could be a real nice horse.”

Simply Business was among the top freshman pacers in the sport in 2011. The son of Rocknroll Hanover won four of eight starts, amassed $672,462 and took a mark of 1:50.1 when he pulled a 21-1 upset in the $1 million Metro Pace at Mohawk Racetrack with Ron Pierce in the bike. He was also a close second in the $317,800 Woodrow Wilson at the Big M.

“Simply Business has trained in 1:55 at Jimmy Takter’s farm,” noted Katz. “He’ll qualify in a couple of weeks, and probably start in the New Jersey Sires Stakes.

“Jimmy really liked this horse last year. In his second or third race at the Meadowlands he came from the clouds and won in a fashion that ordinary horses can’t. He raced well in the Wilson, beaten only three-quarters of a length. He didn’t ship well to Canada after that, and he was first over in his Metro elimination. Despite drawing a bad post in that final (nine), Jimmy was really optimistic. The day of the race, I was wondering whether I should just watch it on television. Fortunately, my wife reminded me how much Jimmy liked the colt. He didn’t deserve to be such a long price ($43.70) that night. I’d love to win the Meadowlands Pace again, but the priority is to come back and have another great year.”

Simply Business is also eligible to the Pepsi North America Cup and ranks No. 4 at odds of 7-1 in Trot Magazine's Spring Book.

Katz has enjoyed a long and successful relationship with Jimmy Takter.

“We’ve known Jimmy for over 30 years, and he has trained for us for about 10 years. He is the consummate professional. His operation speaks for itself. His Hall of Fame honour is richly deserved and overdue. He’s a great trainer who made the transition from trotters to pacers. His record is probably at the level of Billy Haughton, Stanley Dancer and the icons of the past.”

Katz and Sam Goldband are partners in an office construction company in Toronto. Katz, Goldband and their good friend Al Libfeld shared ownership in the 2010 Hambletonian champion Muscle Massive, who gave Jimmy Takter his second Hambletonian. The trio were partners on 2002 Hambletonian third-place finisher, Duke Of York. They also won the 1997 Meadowlands Pace with Dream Away. Katz and Libfeld were co-owners of 2008 Hambletonian Oaks winner Creamy Mimi.

“My association with Al Libfeld and Sam Goldband is north of 30 years now, and I think that very fact is simply remarkable. It speaks volumes. Of course, you can’t put a price on all of the thrills we’ve enjoyed together. First and foremost we’re friends, and Sam and I have been business partners for more than 40 years. Al and I started out as friends well over 40 years ago, and I was the one that brought him into the sport. We’ve been into the breeding end of it for 25 years, and Sam has gotten away from that.

"I got interested in the industry through my father. He took me to the races at Greenwood and it evolved from there. Fortunately, our real estate business success has afforded us a chance to be passionate about our hobby. We don’t have a Hambletonian horse this year, but we’re rooting for two horses, From Above and Magic Tonight, because we’re the breeders. Greg Peck did a great job managing him, and by Grand Circuit time in the fall, he was one of the best colts down there.”

(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)

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