Jimmy Takter trainees won both $20,000 eliminations for the Peter Haughton Memorial for two-year-old colt and gelding trotters Friday night at Meadowlands Racetrack
In the first and fastest elimination, Leader Of The Gang pulled away in the stretch run, trotting to victory in 1:55.3. Neal (John Campbell) finished second and The Lindy Reserve (Tim Tetrick) was third. Whit (Dave Miller) and Magnum Kosmos (George Brennan) rounded out the top five spots, qualifying for the final next Saturday, August 7.
Leader Of The Gang was a $170,000 yearling purchase at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for owners Christina Takter of East Windsor, New Jersey; Brixton Medical Ab. of Sweden; Joyce Mc Clleland of Zanesville, Ohio and R A W Equine Inc. of Burlington, ON. The Muscles Yankee freshman remains undefeated in four starts for trainer Jimmy Takter. He was driven by Ron Pierce and paid $3.20 to win.
“The trip went real good,” said Pierce. “We floated out there real nice in the beginning and fell into the three hole. We were able to cruise to the front and relax after that. Frank Antonacci’s horse [The Lindy Reserve] raced big last week and I was concerned tonight about him. During the race I tipped off his [The Lindy Reserve] back before we straightened out. Last week he [Leader Of The Gang] threw steps at me and I was concerned tonight but Jimmy Takter went back to the drawing board and fixed him up and there were no steps tonight.”
“There’s a lot of class in this horse," said trainer Jimmy Takter. “We almost had him 100 percent for this week. There are still a couple of small issues we have to address before next Saturday. He was a beautiful colt that we really loved in the sale. It’s hard to say if he was the greatest in the beginning but as soon as we started training him a little bit faster, we started to realize he was special.”
Pastor Stephen, another Takter trainee, made a late charge to the front, to win the second elimination by three-quarters of a length in 1:56.1. Broad Bahn (Ron Pierce) and Orlando (George Brennan) finished second and third. The final two qualifiers were Charlier De Vie(Mike Lachance) and Evil Urges (Dave Miller).
“I think [he fits in with the other horses]; he’s undefeated,” said Takter. “He’s a good horse, he has a lot of ability and he’s still a baby. When he starts learning how to race, he will start to grow on you. The horse is racing good, and on the same token, we are very fortunate to train for the best owners in the business and dealing with the best materials. I’m very fortunate to have good people behind me that help me out.”
Pastor Stephen was a $67,000 yearling purchase at Lexington Selected Sale for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding of Toronto, ON and Brittany Farms of Versailles, Kentucky. The bay colt by Cantab Hall is also undefeated in three starts. He paid $8.20 to win.
“Jimmy told me he’s really handy,” said driver Yannick Gingras. “He said just put him on the gate and go. I was second or third over and then slid back to the rail. They were going plenty [fast] and at that point I was just hoping to make the final and keep him brave. I got lucky; he shot up [in between horses] and actually trotted home like a good horse. His last eighth was his fastest eighth of the race, so that’s usually a good thing.”
The $523,000 (est.) Peter Haughton Memorial will be held Saturday, August 7. The elimination winners will have the opportunity to choose their post positions for the final.
The Friday night card also featured the $25,000 Miss Versatility for older trotting mares. Elusive Desire trotted to a career-best 1:52.1 under the guidance of John Campbell. Windsong Soprano (Ron Pierce) was a neck back in second and Autumn Escapade (Dave Miller) was third.
Elusive Desire paid $41.00 to win. The four-year-old mare by Angus Hall-Valley Amber increased her career earnings to $1,374,348 and is now 16-for-38 lifetime for trainer Mike Keeling. Elusive Desire was purchased at the Standardbred Horse Sale in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for $65,000 for owners P C Wellwood Enterprises Inc., Charles Armstrong and Robert Fasken, all of Ontario.
Dube Back In Action Friday Night
Driver Daniel Dube returned to the sulky with six drives on the Friday card after sitting on the sidelines for the last six weeks. Dube suffered broken vertebrae and a carpal bone in his right hand in a racing accident on June 18.
“I feel good,” said Dube. “I’ll probably never be 100 percent but it’s great to be back racing again.”
Tomorrow night’s card is full of action, with eliminations for the Mistletoe Shalee, Hambletonian Oaks, Lady Liberty and the $1.5 million Hambletonian on Saturday August 7.
To view Friday's results, click here.
(With files from Meadowlands Racetrack)