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TAKTER & MILLER STAR IN BREEDERS CROWN AT WOODBINE
--Courtesy of the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown
TORONTO, ONTARIO -- October 24, 2015 -- The Breeders Crown, harness racing’s championship evening, returned to Woodbine Racetrack for the first time since 2012 as many of the current and future stars of the sport were showcased.
But it was veteran trainer Jimmy Takter who shone brightest and enjoyed a night to remember, winning a record six Crown finals, including the Three-Year-Old Colt Trot with The Bank, who upset stablemate and Hambletonian winner Pinkman.
Takter’s six-pack also translated into 27 Crown wins since 1984, far and away the leading trainer. He had previously shared the Crown record of three wins (in a year) with Bob McIntosh.
His victories on Saturday were furnished by Pure Country, All The Time, Wild Honey, The Bank, Creatine (driven by his brother Johnny Takter) and Always B Miki, who recorded the fastest time of the night, 1:49.3, while winning the Crown Pace in just his third start of the season.
“I would say so (biggest night ever),” said Takter, who has enjoyed many career highlights. “It was almost 100% work out there tonight. I have to thank all my crew and my owners. Without them we couldn’t stand here. These horses are fantastic.”
Meanwhile, driver David Miller also made history, winning a record five races, including two for Takter (The Bank and Always B Miki), giving him 19 victories overall as he broke Tim Tetrick’s single night record of four, set in 2012 at Woodbine. Miller’s other wins came with D One, Divine Caroline and Colors A Virgin.
“That’s a really, really close comparison (to the 10-win day on September 18, 2003 at the Little Brown Jug as a career highlight),” said Miller. “It’s a night I’ll never forget. It’s a night you dream about.”
The rainy evening also proved a good one for favourites, who won the first five races, and seven of the 12 championship finals.
And, in a race not won by Takter nor Miller, favoured Freaky Feet Pete confirmed he’s one of the best on the continent with his victory in the Three-Year-Old Colt Pace, coming from sixth while five-wide turning for home to get the job done.
D One got the show underway in the first, the $250,000 ($324,350 Cdn.) Breeders Crown Open Mare Trot as the prohibitive favorite. The five-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover, driven by David Miller, lived up to that billing.
Taking the lead from Shake It Cerry after an opening quarter mile in :27.1, D One was never threatened thereafter, getting to the half in :57.2, the three-quarters in 1:26.3 and eventually winning by three-quarters of a length in 1:54.2 over a track listed as ‘good’ and one which became ‘sloppy’ as the night wore on.
The Swedish import has been absolutely solid since trainer Roger Walmann brought D One to North America, along with highly-rated stablemate Magic Tonight, winner of the 2015 Elitlopp.
Aside from a disappointing race in a Maple Leaf Trot elim on September 12 at Mohawk when she broke stride early and finished seventh as the 7-5 favorite, she has been nothing but money.
Owned by a multi-partner Swedish group that race under the nom de plume Stall Kenny 23, D One has won six of nine races this year and raised her bankroll to more than $1.2 million with the Crown win.
“If I had my choice I would have essentially come up the backstretch and moved her then, but there was horses out there so I had to move her when I did and she held up very well,” said Miller.
D One paid $2.90.
Next up was the $600,000 ($778,440 Cdn.) Breeders Crown two-year-old filly pace. And it was Pure Country who maintained her unbeaten record, now a perfect 10-for-10, winning in 1:51.4 as the 1-9 favorite.
After an opening quarter of :26.1 by Call Me Queen Be, Pure Country moved first over and secured the lead through a :55.1 half.
Lyons River Pride then took dead aim on the favourite and momentarily put her nose in front, but couldn’t clear. With the plugs now pulled, Pure Country retook command, journeyed by three-quarters in 1:23.4, extended her lead to three lengths and held it safely to the wire over a closing Shezarealdeal with Mayhem Seelster third.
A homebred filly from Diamond Creek Farms by Somebeachsomewhere out of the Western Hanover mare Western Montana, Pure Country pushed her earnings to $692,954 and paid $2.30. It was Jimmy Takter’s leading 22nd Crown victory by a trainer. However, for driver Brett Miller, it was his first Breeders Crown win.
“Oh my God, it feels so good to win it,” Miller said. “I’m so glad this race was early and I’m so glad we were able to win it. I was being a little cautious with her out of the gate, and it almost cost me [the race]. I got very lucky to get out. Once I got out, I kind of eased her to the front, even though :55.1 is a big half. She’s just a tremendous horse.”
Miller said he had Pure Country, “pretty much shut down” when headed by Lyons River Pride in the last turn. “I was trying to give her a breather; I was still pretty confident. She’s got all the tools and some grit to her, too.”
Southwind Frank made it look easy for driver Yannick Gingras clearing to the lead by the quarter pole and never looking back while capturing the $600,000 ($778,440 Cdn.) Breeders Crown event for two-year-old trotting colts and geldings.
The son of Muscle Hill has been a dominant force in the division all season long and his Crown performance was no exception, as he cruised over the rain-soaked oval in a 1:54.2 clocking under wraps.
Owned by Burke Racing and Weaver Bruscemi, Our Horse Cents Stables and J & T Silva Stables, Southwind Frank is out of the Cantab Hall-sired Flawless Lindy.
Sent off as another prohibitive 1-9 favorite, Southwind Frank left alertly but Gingras waited for Sliding Home inside of him to clear before hustling his colt to the front after an :27.1 opening quarter.
With little movement behind him, Gingras shut down the race pace, trotting a leisurely :30.2 second quarter, before reaching three-quarters in 1:26.2.
With Marion Marauder in pursuit, Gingras allowed Southwind Frank to hit his best stride and the colt opened ground effortlessly, cruising a final quarter in 28 seconds.
Marion Marauder was a determined second, the fifth time in 11 starts he finished in the bridesmaid role. Early leader Sliding Home earned the final board spot.
The victory was win number 11 in a dozen starts for the impressive colt, trained by Ron Burke, who celebrated his ninth Breeders Crown victory.
"He was a bit more aggressive behind the gate this week," said Gingras, who won his 12th Breeders Crown and 11th in the last three years. "Once I settled him down he was all business. From the first time I sat behind him he's been all business.”
Southwind Frank returned $2.20.
After displaying some ability early in the season, Divine Caroline, the sophomore daughter of Rock N Roll Heaven, added to her late-season surge, posting her fourth consecutive victory in the $500,000 U.S. ($648,700 Cdn.) Breeders Crown three-year-old filly pace.
Owned by Val D’Or Farms, Theodore Gewertz, Rojan Stables and Michael Ouriel, Divine Caroline is trained by Joe Holloway, who came into the 2015 Breeders Crown 12th in all-time winnings with more than $2.7 million.
He had six previous winners, but had not found the winner’s circle since 2000.
Driven as usual by David Miller, Divine Caroline sat far behind the early pace, which saw The Show Returns, an 86-1 outsider, and Southwind Roulette, 32-1, slug it out early, with the former setting a Breeders Crown opening quarter mile record in a blistering 25 seconds.
Bettor Be Steppin, driven by Corey Callaghan, had the lead after a half in :55 while Miller had Divine Caroline fifth, six lengths behind at that point and following cover.
Sassa Hanover then took the lead by 1¾ lengths as three-quarters was reached in 1:23 2. Miller had his horse moving well at the point too, though, and took over half-way down the stretch, crossing the line first by 1¾ lengths in 1:51.
“Last year she showed high, high speed, but it took time for her to mature,” Holloway said. “Even through the beginning of the year, she was close but never winning. She’s finally turned it around and become a top-notch filly.”
He also liked the way the race unfolded.
“That’s what you hope for, a good, clean trip,” Holloway said. “Caroline was in a good spot and she showed she could do it.”
Divine Caroline, who went postward the 3-5 choice, won her seventh race in 20 starts this season, surpassing $650,000 in earnings and almost $800,000 for her career. She paid $3.30.
The Jimmy Takter-trained All The Time brushed to the lead after a quick quarter set by stablemate Kathy Parker and posted a 1:56.2 victory in the $600,000 U.S. ($778,440 Cdn) Breeders Crown two-year-old filly trot.
All The Time had swiftly pulled first over midway into the first turn, got to the half in :58, three-quarters in 1:28.2 and drew away in the stretch. Haughty, Caprice Hill, and Womans Will secured the bottom spots to All The Time at the wire.
Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld’s homebred, who paid $4.50, claimed her sixth win in 10 starts this year, earning $448,010. She is by Muscle Hill, out of the Cantab Hall mare Cantab It All, and was driven by Yannick Gingras, who celebrated his 13th career Breeders Crown victory.
“The minute I hit the track tonight, she’s never felt better,” Gingras said. “Jimmy’s [Takter] second trainer told me that he thought she was better than she was last week, and he was right. They did a tremendous job with her in the last three or four weeks to get her where she is today.”
Added Katz, “This is really fulfilling of all the expectations that Al Libfeld and myself, and Sam [Goldband], and the long journey we’ve had. This is the idea we had many, many years ago, where we would produce champions like this for ourselves, and out of our own broodmare band.”
Sometimes you have to get the breaks to win a Breeders Crown race and that proved to be the case, literally, as 1-5 shot Mission Brief broke stride on a clear lead in early stretch and Wild Honey emerged with the victory in the $500,000 ($648,700 Cdn.) Three-Year-Old Filly Trot.
The race began as expected as Mission Brief cleared the 8-5 Wild Honey, going to the quarter in a respectable :26.2 and cruising to the half in :56.2.
Mission Brief kicked it into high gear late on the final turn and appeared to be opening ground effortlessly on Wild Honey, hitting the three-quarters in 1:25 while appearing on her way to an open lengths victory.
However, Mission Brief blew up and was pulled to the outside in early stretch, leaving Wild Honey and driver John Campbell suddenly in the lead.
Closers Im So Fancy and Speak To Me gained gradually on the Jimmy Takter-trained daughter of Cantab Hall, but neither could dent the filly's margin as she won for the third straight time and avenged a defeat to Mission Brief in last year's Breeders Crown.
“I don't think I was going to catch her," said Campbell, about Mission Brief. "My filly was struggling on the turn and she got away from me. If you're going to beat Mission Brief you've got to stay right on her back.”
Mission Brief’s trainer Ron Burke said his filly, “didn't warm up the best. The track didn't suit her today and she has those issues that we're not 1,000 per cent over just yet. I thought she was but I knew warming her up that maybe we had an issue.
“She was home. All she had to do was keep herself trotting so, you know, it's bad. That's the high of the sport and the lows of the sport right there. She'll be fine and there will come a time yet when she'll put it all together. She's the best horse I've ever trained.”
Takter said he thought he had a chance to win the race.
"I saw (driver) Yannick (Gingras) was having trouble with her (Mission Brief). She wasn't trotting as smoothly as she usually does," he said.
Takter also put his vote in on behalf of Wild Honey, who paid $5.20, for division honours. “She won the Hambletonian (Oaks), The Kentucky Futurity (filly division) and The Breeders Crown. I think she should be the divisional champion,” he said.
Owned by Christina Takter, John Fielding, Jim Fielding and Herb Liverman, Wild Honey has now won over $1.5 million during her career, winning 17 of 26 starts.
It was also the 12th Breeders Crown victory for John Fielding, who ranks second in Crown victories by owners.
But it was trainer Jimmy Takter who shone the brightest and enjoyed a night to remember, winning a record-setting five Crown finals, including the Three-Year-Old Colt Trot with upstart The Bank, who upset stablemate and Hambletonian winner Pinkman.
The Boston Red Sox didn’t have a great year, but Boston Red Rocks knocked it out of the park in the $600,000 ($778,400 Cdn.) Breeders Crown two-year-old pace for colts and geldings.
Posting the biggest upset of the night, 18-1 Boston Red Rocks, driven by Tim Tetrick, emerged from far back in the stretch and finished furiously to post an impressive 2½-length victory in a lifetime best 1:51.3.
It was the third victory in seven career starts for the son of Rocknroll Hanover. Owned by Peter Blood and Rick Berks, both of Florida, Boston Red Rocks had never finished worse than third. But he was basically overlooked because the pre-race focus was on Control The Moment, who had not lost in eight starts, and Racing Hill, a winner in his last three.
Control The Moment went postward at just under 9-10. Racing Hill was second in the wagering at 2-1.
Talk Show and Betting Line engaged in a heated battle for the early lead. Talk Show emerged on top following a :25.3 opening quarter, but Betting Line took over and led through a Breeders Crown record-setting half of :53.2. Racing Hill then took over after three quarters in 1:22.1.
Heading into the stretch, Betting Hill had a half-length lead over Racing Hill while Boston Red Rocks was sixth, five lengths back of the lead and seemingly out of it. But at the wire, he was so much the best.
“My horse had a nice little sneaky run last week and I felt if the fractions were fair I could have a shot and he really finished well,” Tetrick said.
Tetrick drove the colt for the first time in his elim last week and liked the effort.
“I really liked him, he’s very smart, great to drive,” he said. “He’s push-button and it worked out tonight. I tried to stay as close as I could (at the start), but when I saw Corey (Callaghan) being aggressive with (Talk Show), he’s pretty aggressive when he gets on his way. I just wanted to be on the outside in the flow and I got led up good enough and my horse charged well.”
Boston Red Rocks paid $38.90.
Division leader Pinkman failed to go wire-to-wire in the $500,000 U.S. ($648,700 Cdn.) Breeders Crown three-year-old colt and gelding trot, with stablemate The Bank and David Miller grinding by from first over to win in 1:54.3.
Yannick Gingras sent Pinkman to the lead through a :27.2 first quarter and the half in :57.2. With the plugs pulled, Pinkman passed three quarters in 1:26.4, but The Bank crept closer on the outside.
At the eighth pole, Pinkman’s lead had diminished to a neck before The Bank brushed by late for the neck victory.
Pinkman, Muscle Diamond, and French Laundry followed.
The Bank, a colt by Donato Hanover out of the Viking Kronos mare Lightning Kronos, competes for the interests of Christina Takter, Goran Falk, and Goran Anderberg. Trained by Jimmy Takter, the Falkbolagen Ab-bred colt paid $30.50 to win.
“Around the last turn, Yannick [began] to ask his horse and I was just sitting on mine,” Miller said. “At that point, I thought that he might be second for sure, but he went a big trip; he hung a long ways and he got the job done.”
“He's been racing tremendous all year and chasing Pinkman and, you know, Pinkman was just a little more excited today,” said Takter. “Normally, he's very laid back. In the warm up, I told Yannick, 'either it's a good thing or bad thing' but he's very different. He was very aggressive today and normally he's very much the opposite.”
Freaky Feet Pete, a $62,500 supplemental entry, rallied from well back as the favourite to capture the $531,250 ($689,244 Cdn.) Breeders Crown three-year-old colt pace.
The Indiana-bred son of Rockin Image looked to be far out of contention on the final turn, but driver Trace Tetrick gave him his marching orders in the stretch and the colt sprinted to a 1:50 victory at the expense of Artspeak and Lost For Words.
Early speed was expected from the favorites in this event, but that was not the case as Lost For Words and Reverend Hanover from the outer tier of the starting gate engaged in an early battle.
Reverend Hanover had the lead in the :26 opening quarter, but Lost For Words and David Miller regained moving down the backstretch and controlled the issue through a :55 opening half.
"I thought I was in a good spot following (brother) Tim (Tetrick, driving Wakizashi Hanover) and having Artspeak on my back,” said driver Trace Tetrick.
But the cover was not moving all that quickly on the turn as Miller and Lost For Words tried to put some separation on the field with a blistering :27.1 third quarter in the middle of a steady downpour.
In the stretch, Lost For Words opened up a few lengths, but Freaky Feet Pete had already been sent wide and he was closing with wild abandon.
Trained by Larry Rheinheimer for owners Mary Jo Rheinheimer and Marty Rheinheimer, Freaky Feet Pete kicked home the winner, with Artspeak coming solidly late for second and Lost For Words finishing third.
It was the first Breeders Crown win for Trace Tetrick. “It's very exciting,” he said. “I'll remember this forever.”
Freaky Feet Pete ($4.70) won for the 13th time in 15 starts this year, making good on a rather large bet put down by his owners.
Colors A Virgin, last year’s champion three-year-old pacing mare in the U.S., showed her true colours in the $250,000 ($324,350 Cdn) Breeders Crown mare pace.
In the driving rain and wind, Colors A Virgin nosed out Sandbetweenurtoes at the wire. It looked as if Katie Said, driven by John Campbell, would prevail on the far outside after she made a big move. But just as she was about to claim the lead, she went off-stride.
Colors A Virgin had experienced a topsy-turvy kind of season. She came into the race with seven wins in 17 starts and earnings of almost $160,000. But last year she won 13 of 18 starts and more than $530,000.
With her latest win, she surpassed $1 million in lifetime earnings. She is trained by Brian Brown for breeder/owner Emerald Highlands Farm of Mount Vernon, OH.
"This mare was the 2-5 favorite last year and had a tough trip and no flow,” Brown said. “Tonight was very rewarding, but I have to tell everyone and give congratulations to Tony O'Sullivan. He took the mare to Jersey and up here and he's the one who really got her turned around. To finally get over the hump in a major race, hopefully it will open the gates and we can be here again."
“The trip worked out all right,” said driver David Miller. “I wasn’t so sure she was going to get there or not. John’s horse running helped. He was going by, but you know what, she got it done. She dug in at the head of the stretch. It was tight (at the wire). I’m glad for Brian (Brown). He’s a great guy. He works hard. He deserves it.”
"She came off the truck yesterday, took her to the field and turned her out and the right nostril just had mucous flowing out of her,” explained Brown. “I turned her out and jogged her this morning and she jogged great, with very little mucous. We were worried she might be getting sick, but she was great jogging and we were all relieved, but we had no idea we'd come here and win.”
Colors A Virgin paid $15.00.
In the second start of his homecoming, the Jimmy Takter-trainee Creatine displayed an effortless performance, taking the $531,250 U.S. ($689,244 Cdn.) Breeders Crown open trot in 1:52.4 over Resolve, Gural Hanover, and Bee A Magician.
Under minor encouragement by driver Johnny Takter, Creatine swept to the lead over Resolve and Gural Hanover, passing the first quarter in :27.2 and remaining unchallenged through a :56.4 half.
Timed in 1:25.1 for three-quarters, Creatine began to sprint home. Resolve chased in second, while Gural Hanover snuck by a stalled Bee A Magician to the inside. Creatine ($7) was a two-length winner at the wire.
The Andover Hall horse, out of the Muscles Yankee mare Berry Nice Muscles, passed $2 million in career earnings with the Crown victory. He has 17 wins from 52 starts.
Bred by Diamond Creek Farm, he competes for the interest of Big C Racing and Takter. It was also brother Johnny Takter’s first Breeders Crown win.
Asked about how Creatine’s connections decided to supplement to the Breeders Crown, Takter said, “Of course [it was a hard decision] because $62,500 is a lot of money to bring into this game. The horse raced well at Yonkers.
Unfortunately, he tied up a little bit there, and I thought he would’ve had a heck of a shot to win that one, too. The horse is razor sharp and has been racing well in Europe, so I know we belong. I also basically knew what was going to be here, and I knew he could beat these horses.”
Jimmy Takter and David Miller completed an incredible Breeders Crown night, capturing the final event, the open pace with Always B Miki in a sensational 1:49.3 mile over a rain-soaked surface.
The victory, a year removed from when the son of Always A Virgin had to be scratched from the Crown final at The Meadowlands came at the expense of stablemate J K Endofanera and Mach It So.
State Treasurer and driver Chris Christoforou blasted to the early lead in a :26.3 opening quarter, but the driver was looking in the rear view mirror and when Miller came with Always B Miki on the backstretch he was anxious to yield.
The half was a solid :55.2 and Always B Miki pushed it into another gear on the turn as Foiled Again attempted to come up without cover but couldn't make a dent in the leader's margin.
Always B Miki hit three quarters in 1:23 and then was high-lined to the wire with a :26.3 final quarter.
It was the third win in as many starts this year for Always B Miki capturing the $400,000 ($518,960 Cdn.) Breeders Crown Open Pace and pushing his lifetime bank account over $1 million.
Owned by Bluewood Stables, Roll The Dice Stable and Christina Takter, the victory was the sixth of the 12 Breeders Crown races for trainer Takter and the fifth by winning driver David Miller.
Takter now has 27 Breeders Crown victories lifetime, while Miller has 19.
“He's pretty special,” said Miller, about Always B Miki. "It's a thrill to sit behind him and to feel his power.”
Always B Miki, the 2-5 favourite, impressed his trainer as well. “He's a very unique horse. I put him in the top horses to ever compete in this sport,” said Takter.
The handle on the Breeders Crown portion of the card, not including the Jackpot Hi-5 race, was $3,835,642. Total handle was $5,748,950.
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