By Frank and Ray Cotolo
(H) denotes Hambletonian eligible
Trainer Jimmy Takter, known for his talent with trotters, swept the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial and $213,500 Del Miller Memorial on Saturday, July 12, installing his pupils as the favorites in the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks, respectively.
Frosh-champion Father Patrick (H-Cantab Hall) proved best over stable-mate Trixton (H-Muscle Hill) in the biggest match-up in this year’s “Trail.”
Taking the lead at the quarter, he maintained control for the rest of the way, scoring by ¾ lengths over Nuncio (H-Andover Hall), also from Takter, and Trixton in 1:51.3. The $2.80 winner is owned by Father Patrick Stable and driven by Yannick Gingras.
“I knew Nuncio got on my back and I saw Jimmy [driving Trixton] getting a good trip second over,” Gingras said. “There was no excuse for anybody. He’s a perfect horse. I’ve been dreaming about [winning the Hambletonian] since August third last year. It’s definitely a dream of mine and hopefully we can get it done.”
In the second meeting of Shake It Cerry (H-Donato Hanover) and Designed To Be (H-Donato Hanover), Shake It Cerry proved supreme in a wire-to-wire 1:53 mile.
Heaven’s Door (H-Muscle Hill) rode the pocket the whole way, finishing second and Designed To Be, sent off the even-money choice, was third. Owned by Solveig’s Racing Partners and driven by Ron Pierce, she returned $9.80 to win.
“I think she’s coming into [the Oaks] just perfect,” Pierce said. “We haven’t stretched her out all year except for one start a couple weeks ago. Last week, I wasn’t sure if I went enough to tighten her up for today but apparently I did. Today she got a good workout.”
While the best of the Trail were contesting in New Jersey, province-bred action in Canada attracted a few eligibles for the Canadian Breeders Championship eliminations on Friday, July 11. A trio of eliminations was held for the gals. No hopefuls were victorious, but Margie (H-Angus Hall) qualified for the final.
In two eliminations for the colts, Entranced (H-Kadabra) was second in the first and Harper Blue Chip (H-Majestic Son) was victorious in the second, paying $2.80 to win in a 1:54.4 effort. He’s owned by Landmark 6 Racing Stable, David McDonald, David Reid and George Judson, trained by Mark Steacy and driven by Sylvain Filion.
Keep watching the Hambletonian Trail blog for updates and races involving eligibles through July and for live coverage from TwinSpires on Hambletonian day. Read race results at the special section archived at the Hambletonian Society web site.