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-- By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications/USTA

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- August 2, 2016 -- It is no secret that trainer Jimmy Takter has enjoyed great success in the Hambletonian Stakes.

The 55-year-old Hall of Famer has won the race four times, including each of the past two years, and would become the first trainer in history to three-peat with a win on Saturday. A victory would also give Takter a record-tying fifth triumph, putting him in the company of Stanley Dancer, Billy Haughton and Ben White in that elite club.

But what is the secret to his success?

“The secret, I think, is to stick with what you normally do,” Takter said. “Most trainers, including me when I was younger, start thinking about it and changing stuff and doing things differently. People start over-doing things, train the horses maybe a little harder, or whatever. I don’t think that’s smart. I think that’s where experience comes in.

“The horse has no clue it’s the Hambletonian. The driver and trainer, yes. But the horse has no clue.”

Takter will send five horses into Saturday’s $1 million Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack: Bar Hopping, Lagerfeld, Love Matters, Jimmy William, and Reigning Moni.

The Hambletonian format calls for any eliminations to be contested the same day as the final. A total of 18 horses entered this year’s event, requiring two eliminations from which the top five finishers in each division advance to the final. The winner of the final is the Hambletonian champion.

Bar Hopping is regarded as Takter’s top contender and holds the distinction of being the only horse to win a race in which Southwind Frank competed. Bar Hopping won a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes last year when Southwind Frank went off stride and in June defeated Southwind Frank by a neck in their elimination for the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial.

Southwind Frank, who has won 16 of 18 lifetime starts and earned $1.20 million for trainer Ron Burke, is the expected Hambletonian favorite.

Bar Hopping, who missed nearly two months of action last year because of sickness, has won three of 17 career races and hit the board a total of 12 times. He heads to the Hambletonian off a win in the Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial Main Event on July 24 at Vernon Downs.

“At least we know he’s challenged (Southwind) Frank,” Takter said. “He beat him fair and square earlier this year. Maybe (Southwind) Frank wasn’t at his best. Last year I thought he was very outstanding. But Ronnie is a professional and knows what he is doing. I’m sure he is going to have his horse ready as a contender.”

Lagerfeld was last year’s Pennsylvania Sire Stakes champion. Jimmy William was limited to one start last season and Love Matters joined Takter’s stable late in 2015. Reigning Moni punched his ticket to the Hambletonian with a 7-3/4 length win in 1:52.4 last Friday in a conditioned race at the Meadowlands.

“This year I had a bunch of 3-year-olds that I liked early as 2-year-olds, but every single one of them got sick,” Takter said. “It was a disaster year with the 2-year-olds. I never had a 2-year-old group get sick so much.”

Takter won his first Hambletonian with Malabar Man in 1997. He won again with Muscle Massive in 2010, then Trixton in 2014 and Pinkman in 2015. He also was the driver of Trixton.

“The Hambletonian is the biggest race we have,” Takter said. “No matter how many times you win it, you get that kick out of it. I love to win the big races. Those are my moments.

“But it’s also a heck of a race for a horse’s resume. Pinkman was a gelding, but it was huge for Trixton and Malabar Man and Muscle Massive. You’re set as a stallion if you win that race.”

The $225,550 U.S. Pacing Championshjp, $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks and $1 million Hambletonian will be featured during a live 90-minute broadcast on CBS Sports Network from 4-5:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday. Hambletonian Day post time is noon.

Below are the fields for the two Hambletonian eliminations:

$70,000 Hambletonian Elimination 1
Race 8 – Post time 2:58 p.m.
PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1. Bar Hopping–Tim Tetrick–Jimmy Takter–9/5
2. Lagerfeld–Yannick Gingras–Jimmy Takter–12/1
3. Make Or Miss–Joe Bongiorno–Ron Burke–20/1
4. Milligan’s School–Andy Miller–Julie Miller–10/1
5. Brooklyn Hill–David Miller–Jonas Czernyson–3/1
6. Mavens Way–John Campbell–Ake Svanstedt–6/1
7. Tight Lines–Jeff Gregory–Jeff Gregory–25/1
8. Iron Mine Bucky–George Dennis–Greg Haverstick–15/1
9. Reigning Moni–David Miller–Jimmy Takter–4/1

$70,000 Hambletonian Elimination 2
Race 9 – Post time 3:25 p.m.
PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1. Jimmy William–Tim Tetrick–Jimmy Takter–20/1
2. The Royal Harry–Ake Svanstedt–Ake Svanstedt–20/1
3. Sutton–Andy Miller–Julie Miller–6/1
4. Marion Marauder–Scott Zeron–Paula Wellwood–3/1
5. Southwind Frank–Yannick Gingras–Ron Burke–4/5
6. Hollywood Highway–John Campbell–Staffan Lind–30/1
7. Dominion Beach–Bjorn Goop–Nancy Johansson–30/1
8. Love Matters–Brett Miller–Jimmy Takter–12/1
9. Waitlifter K–David Miller–Andrew Harris–10/1

Broadway Donna seeks to join her dam with Hambo Oaks crown
Tuesday, August 02, 2016 - by Kim French, USTA Internet News Editor

She is the defending champion of her division and banked $625,642 in only 14 trips to the post, yet when the stage is set for the most heralded contest of her career, the spotlight still fails to shine on Broadway Donna in this Saturday's (Aug. 6) edition of the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks final.

“This is the race we have pointed for and wanted to win,” said Jim Campbell, her conditioner. “Right from the day she was born we fell in love with her. She was just a perfect foal and is still a big, strong filly. She looked the part of a nice racehorse and when we started to train her down she showed us why we felt so strongly about her. She is always professional. She can be tricky because she does like her own way, but she never gets hot like her mother could do from time to time. She has perfect manners and an excellent mind. The best way to put it is she has it all.”

The regally bred daughter of Donato Hanover and Broadway Schooner will commence her journey to an Oaks crown from post position seven in the 12th race on a nationally televised card (CBS Sports Network) at the Meadowlands. Where she commences her mile is not exactly what Campbell and regular pilot David Miller had envisioned, but this filly, who is the third choice on the morning line (7-2) behind 2015 Breeders Crown victress All The Time (9-5) and 2015 O'Brien Award winner Caprice Hill (5-2), not only possesses all the necessary attributes to triumph, but her presence on this stage appeared to be predestined long before she ever placed a hoof on the ground for those responsible for her birth at Fashion Farms.

Her mother, however, who is by Broadway Hall, would be a tough act for any of her progeny to follow. Broadway Schooner did not capture the adulation of the press in her first season of campaigning, as she only captured one race in seven starts, but the mare stole the show her sophomore season. She proved best in the 2009 edition of the Hambletonian Oaks and also appeared in the winner’s circle in that year’s Breeders Crown. At the end of the season she was honored with the Dan Patch Award for her performances.

Broadway Donna is her second foal. Her first foal, Musclesprinctonian (Muscle Hill, $69,280), is standing stud in Indiana and her younger sibling Wutan (Muscle Hill) sold for $130,000 as a yearling last fall. That kind of lineage is difficult for any horse to live up to, but with this filly, quite possibly, her best is yet to come.

Both Campbell and Miller acknowledged Broadway Donna was not as impressive as they had hoped at the end of her Hambletonian Oaks elimination, where she finished second but was placed third after a late break in stride. But despite the abnormal miscue, this filly should still be attracting attention to win this female classic.

“I really have a lot of respect for her,” Miller said. “It may not have appeared I was pushing on her to win her elimination, but I was. We wanted to be able to select our post position. She just was a little tired at the end of the race and that is uncharacteristic of her. She always does everything on her own and well within herself. The track that night may have had something to with it. It was very hard and you don’t know if it was stinging her feet.

“I do know this is a very competitive race and every advantage you have is going to be important. It will be difficult to win from the seven (post position), but this filly has already impressed with how she can overcome situations.”

Campbell agrees with Miller that this year’s Oaks should not have a clear-cut favorite.

“This is one of the toughest Oaks we have seen in a long time,” Campbell said. “There are five or six fillies in here that can easily win depending on how their trip goes. It is not an easy race and being drawn on the outside of some of these fillies could be the difference. That is racing though and the Oaks is one of those that we really want to win.”

$500,000 Hambletonian Oaks
Race 12 – Post time 4:41 p.m.
PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1. Caprice Hill–Tim Tetrick–Tony Alagna–5/2
2. Celebrity Eventsy–John Campbell–Staffan Lind–6/1
3. Dream Child–Scott Zeron–Linda Toscano–30/1
4. Side Bet Hanover–Corey Callahan–Jonas Czernyson–8/1
5. Windowshopper–Brian Sears–Ake Svanstedt–40/1
6. All The Time–Yannick Gingras–Jimmy Takter–9/5
7. Broadway Donna–David Miller–Jim Campbell–7/2
8. Wildflower–Ake Svanstedt–Ake Svanstedt–30/1
9. Black Broadway–Brett Miller–Michael Eaton–50/1
10. Double Exposure–Tim Tetrick–Tony Alagna–15/1

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