Pastor Stephen To Debut Tuesday

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Published: May 15, 2011 07:40 pm EDT

As the 2010 champion freshman colt trotter, Pastor Stephen may be the winter-book favourite for this year’s Hambletonian, but trainer Jimmy Takter knows the road to Hambletonian glory is taken once race at a time


“You can’t really say the Hambletonian is the only race you’re thinking about,” Takter noted. “Don’t get me wrong - the Hambletonian is the one race everyone really wants to win. I’ve won it twice, but it took a long time between the first win and the second. You can really feel good about your horse, but there always are a couple horses popping up you hadn’t counted on. There are a lot of big races, and they don’t go for small change. So you play it by ear.”

Pastor Stephen, who banked $664,565 at two for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding and Brittany Farms, begins his Hambletonian quest Tuesday when he kicks off his sophomore campaign in a $69,303 division of a Pennsylvania Sires Stake at The Meadows. He drew post three in the ninth race.

“We chose this spot because he raced at The Meadows last year and handled the track very well,” Takter said. “I want to have a few more starts in him than I might otherwise because he’s a big horse. It will take a couple starts to get his form right.”

Pastor Stephen has prepped well for his seasonal debut, recording a 1:56.4 victory at the Meadowlands in his sole qualifier - “He did it fairly easily, with plenty of trot left” - and registering several training miles in the 1:56 vicinity.

Because Pastor Stephen is so big, Takter said the son of Cantab Hall-Gala Dream likely won’t see any half-mile-track action this year. He indicated Pastor Stephen probably will stick with the off-the-trot style that was so successful for him last year.

“When you have a young horse, you prefer teaching him something,” Takter said. “You can develop a horse more when he’s racing from behind. If you send him down the road every week, how much do you actually accomplish? If you teach him, when he grows up a little bit, he can do anything.”

While no horse in the PASS field boasts Pastor Stephen’s credentials, there are several sleepers in the group, including Mythical Hall, who earned $130,133 at two and makes his second start on Lasix for trainer Jim Arledge, Jr., and Buffalino Hanover, who finished fourth in his 2010 Breeders Crown elimination and has marched through his conditions this season for trainer Todd Schadel. Mythical Hall and Buffalino Hanover each won a PASS division at The Meadows last July 20 - the same day Pastor Stephen captured his split in stakes-record time.

(The Meadows)

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