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Takter To Take 'The Pace?'

Published: July 16, 2009 11:34 am ET

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Jimmy Takter still might be known for his work with the trotters – he’s won the Hambletonian once and Hambletonian Oaks three times – but more and more he is making a name for himself with pacers.

In 2005, he trained filly pacer Cabrini Hanover to the Dan Patch Award as the sport’s best 3-year-old (the filly also won an O'Brien Award at two). In 2006, he won the Little Brown Jug with pacing colt Mr Feelgood. Last year, Good News Lady won the Jugette.

Now, for the first time, Takter has a horse in the $1 million Meadowlands Pace. Vintage Master, who was fourth-placed-third in his elimination race last weekend, will start Saturday’s main event from Post 5 with driver Daniel Dube.

“We got a ticket,” an elated Takter said. “We’ve won most of them [major stakes], but this is big. It’s very exciting. Anything can happen. We just had to hope for a decent post, and maybe we’ll get a piece of the cake.”

Takter could become the sixth trainer to win both of the Meadowlands’ million-dollar stakes – the Meadowlands Pace and the Hambletonian. The others are Steve Elliott, Blair Burgess, Chuck Sylvester, Bill Haughton and Ray Remmen.

Vintage Master has won only once in 22 career races, but has shown flashes of ability. He was second in the $500,000 SBOA/Anthony Abbatiello New Jersey Classic on June 13 at the Meadowlands and runner-up in the $200,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes final on May 30. Thanks to 14 on-the-board finishes, he has earned $313,716 lifetime. Silk Stockings, the 1975 Pacer of the Year, can be found on the maternal side of his family.

“He’s a very laid back and very sound horse, which is a big plus,” said Takter, who trains the colt for breeders/owners Brittany Farms and the estate of Brian P. Monieson. “He’s the kind of horse that I hope is going to be in every dance this year. One of these days, he’s going to win one of those.”

Takter is a native of Sweden, where he got his start in harness racing by working for his father, Bo. Takter came to the U.S. in the early 1980s – he got his first win in 1983 at the Meadowlands with Baltic Speed – and soon established himself as one of the sport’s top trainers.

In addition to the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks, Takter’s success with trotters saw him train three consecutive Horse of the Year winners in the United States: Malabar Man in 1997 and Moni Maker in 1998 and 1999. Twice he has been honoured by the U.S. Harness Writers Association as the Trainer of the Year.

Last weekend, Vintage Master finished behind Well Said and Art Colony in his Meadowlands Pace elim. Well Said, who last month won the Pepsi North America Cup and was the 2008 Breeders Crown champ, was made the 6-5 morning line favourite for the final.

“We’re going to need a hot pace and it would be nice to come second over, or something like that,” Takter said. “There’s got to be some pace in the race for us. But the pressure is not on us, it’s going to be on Well Said.

“[Vintage Master] is pretty consistent,” he added. “There are horses that are probably faster than him, but he’s got the guts.”

$1 million Meadowlands Pace (with driver changes):

PP, Horse, Driver, Trainer, Odds

1, Schoolkids, Dave Palone, Tracy Brainard, 20-1
2, Ideal Danny, Yannick Gingras, Erv Miller, 12-1
3, Well Said, Ron Pierce, Steve Elliott, 6-5
4, Hypnotic Blue Chip, Tim Tetrick, Mark Harder, 4-1
5, Vintage Master, Daniel Dube, Jimmy Takter, 10-1
6, Art Colony, John Campbell, Casie Coleman, 5-1
7, Arctic Warrior, David Miller, Sam Beegle, 15-1
8, Chasin Racin, Brian Sears, George Teague Jr., 15-1
9, If I Can Dream, George Brennan, Tracy Brainard, 12-1
10, Pair A Dice, Mike Lachance, Steve Elliott, 20-1

(With files from the Meadowlands)

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