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Takter Sweeps Zweigs; Sebastian K Cruises In Crawford

Published: August 29, 2014 9:54 pm ET

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Jimmy Takter-trained sophomore trotters dominated the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial divisions while Sebastian K cruised wire-to-wire to win the Crawford Farms Open Trot on Friday night at Vernon Downs.

Father Patrick ($2.10) returned to his winning ways, defeating stablemate Nuncio in the $340,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Trot for three-year-old colts and geldings.

The Jimmy Takter stablemates left together with Father Patrick and Yannick Gingras crossing in front of Nuncio and John Campbell into a blazing :25.4 opening quarter and they raced one-two through a :56-second half.

Approaching the 1:25.2 third quarter mark, Skates N Plate and Jim Morrill Jr. tipped to the outside flushing Nuncio from the pocket. However, Father Patrick fended off Nuncio down the stretch for the one and a half length victory in 1:52.2, coming within one-fifth of a second of the divisional track record. Flyhawk El Durado and Mark MacDonald finished nearly seven lengths back in third.

"He's always a threat," said Gingras, referring to the pocket-pulling Nuncio. "He's a great horse too. He tries hard and he never gives up. But as soon as he got alongside of me, my horse really latched on even more and I was really confident. I didn't have to get into him too much tonight and that's a good thing."

Father Patrick began his sophomore season with a six-race win streak before breaking stride in the Hambletonian and finishing second in the Tompkins Stakes. Gingras said tonight that he felt as sharp in the post parade as he did prior to his 1:50.2 world record victory in the Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono Downs.

"I think about it a lot of times," said Gingras of Father Patrick's Hambletonian Day miscue. "It was great day, but it was bitter sweet. The ending wasn't the way I wanted. It's a race I'm going to think about very often, but there's nothing I can change about it and we're going to move forward and hopefully he can win a lot of big races."

The Cantab Hall-Gala Dream colt's seventh win of the year boosted his earnings over $700,000 for 2014 and $1.45 million lifetime for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group.

The Takter-trained Shake It Cerry ($2.40), driven by Ron Pierce, also won the earlier $150,000 Zweig division for three-year-old trotting fillies.

Insider Broadway Socks and Dan Rawlings protected the pylons off the gate with Heavens Door and Ake Svanstedt forced to drop in behind and the leaving Shake It Cerry carrying on to take over command past the the :27.2 opening quarter mark.

As the heavy 1-5 favourite led the way past the half in :57.2, Avalicious and Jim Morrill Jr. swept up from fourth to take over command. Meanwhile, Heavens Doors advanced outside into second as they approached three-quarters in 1:24.3.

Down the stretch, Pierce found an opening at the inside with Shake It Cerry and then held off Heavens Door for the 1:53.4 victory by three-quarters of a length. Bikini So Teeny and Charlie Norris came on for third.

Takter trains the homebred Donato Hanover-Solveig filly, who is now eight-for-10 in 2014, for Solveigs Racing Partners. Friday's victory boosted Shake It Cerry's earnings to $395,036 for the year and over $1.2 million lifetime.

"She raced good in Meadows after that [fourth-place finish in the Hambletonian Oaks]," said Takter. "The race Hambo Day was not in her favour. She had to work very hard to get to the front and it took a little sting out of her. Maybe she wasn't really at 100 per cent target that day, but she looks like she's coming back well."

Driver Scott Zeron pulled favourite Mr Lindy ($3.70) from the pocket entering the stretch and defeated pacesetter Well Built and Tim Tetrick in the $60,000 Zweig Consolation by more than three lengths in a career-best clocking of 1:54.1. The Cantab Hall colt is now a perfect three-for-three to start his career for trainer Frank Antonacci and owners Lindy Farms Of Connecticut, Peter Barbato and Robert Rudolph.

Swedish trotting star Sebastian K ($2.30) was quick to grab the lead off the gate and never looked back in the $236,000 Crawford Farms Open Trot for trainer/driver Ake Svanstedt.

Svanstedt rated the 1-9 fan favourite through fractions of :28.1, :57.3 and 1:26.3 while rebuffing a first over challenge from Market Share and Tim Tetrick en route to the 1:53 triumph. Archangel and Yannick Gingras followed in second, two lengths behind off a pocket trip, while Market Share finished third. Bee A Magician, reigning Horse of the Year and the only mare in the field, followed in fourth for Brian Sears.

The son of Korean-Gabriella K tied the track record for aged trotting horses five years old and up, set by For You Almostfree.

"He got it a little easy the first half and he went a pretty good last half," said assistant trainer Bernie Noren. "It was an easy race for him tonight."

Sebastian K continued his near-perfect North American campaign after winning the John Cashman Memorial nearly a month ago on Hambletonian Day, Aug. 2. He is now eight-for-nine -- his only loss by a nose in the Maple Leaf Trot -- with $631,500 banked during his eight-year-old season for Knutsson Trotting Inc.

"It's a great experience to show harness racing at it's best," said Noren. "I love harness racing. Growing up, I was working with harness racing for 20 years. It's very good to bring a horse here that the public starts liking and following...It's great for harness racing. We need that in this sport."

The opening leg of the 2014 Tioga/Vernon Drivers' Championship also took place on Friday night and there was a tie for the top spot between Yannick Gingras and Ron Pierce with 20 points. This tie means that the two drivers will split the $10,000 prize for leading after the first round of the Championship. Corey Callahan is third with 13 points and the defending champion Jim Marohn Jr. is fourth with 11 points.

Points are awarded as follows: 10 points for a win, seven points for second, five points for third, three points for fourth, and one point for fifth.

The Drivers' Championship will continue at Tioga Downs on Labor Day Monday with Round Two.

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