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“He’s Going To Be Tough To Beat”

Published: August 28, 2014 10:53 am ET

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“I expect him to go his race and if Father Patrick does beat him, he’s going to be tough to beat.”

Hambletonian runner-up Nuncio is part of the favoured 5-2 Jimmy Takter-trained entry with stablemate Father Patrick in Friday’s $340,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for three-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs. Nuncio has Post 7 and the services of his regular driver, John Campbell, right next to Father Patrick in Post 8.

Nuncio got a pre-Zweig warm-up Tuesday, August 26, with a three and a quarter-length victory in 1:53.2 in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at the Meadows. The victory came in wire-to-wire fashion from Post 7, something the now-more-mature and well-schooled Nuncio handles nicely.

“The difference is, at the beginning of this year and at the end of last year, when he did go to the front he wouldn’t relax,” Campbell said. “Now we’ve raced him from behind a number of times and we’ve got him so he realizes he doesn’t have to do everything in the first half.

“When you do go to the front with him now, he’s not trying to run through his bridle and he’s relaxing. That’s what we had to try to get through to him at the beginning of the year. Fortunately for us, he caught on rather well.”

Nuncio was making his first start since his second-place finish to stablemate Trixton in the August 2 Hambletonian at the Meadowlands. Campbell and the colt were able to control the fractions, which was important given the quick turnaround to the Zweig.

“He didn’t have to work too hard and he did it rather easily,” Campbell said. “I was certainly cognizant of the fact that he was going to have to come back and race Friday. I didn’t want to race him hard and it did work out that way.”

Nuncio has won six of nine races this year and earned $613,346 for owner Stall TZ. He has won 11 of 19 career races, never finished worse than second in any start, and earned $1.07 million.

Father Patrick, who has won 16 of 19 career races and $1.27 million, will try in the Zweig to snap the first losing streak of his career. He went offstride at the start of the Hambletonian and finished second to Datsyuk on August 17 in a division of the Tompkins-Geers at Tioga Downs.

“The only thing I can really count on with Nuncio is from the first time I raced him, even when he was unrateable, he always raced his heart out,” Campbell said. “He’s raced good every time. Going into the (Zweig) I expect him to again. Whether that’s good enough and how good Father Patrick is, we don’t know. But I expect him to go his race and if Father Patrick does beat him, he’s going to be tough to beat.”

The Zweig field – in post order with drivers and morning line odds – appears below.

1 – Flyhawk El Durado – Mark MacDonald – 7-2
2 – Sumatra – Brian Sears – 7-2
3 – Expressive Action – David Miller – 10-1
4 – Skates N Plates – Jim Morrill Jr. – 6-1
5 – Martiniwithmuscle – Tim Tetrick – 8-1
6 – Auspicious Hanover – Charlie Norris – 10-1
7 – Nuncio – John Campbell – 5-2
8 – Father Patrick – Yannick Gingras – 5-2
9 – Resolve – Corey Callahan – 8 -1

(Nuncio and Father Patrick will race as an entry)

DOUGLASS HUTCHINS IS HOPING FOR ANOTHER HAPPY HOUR IN A ZWEIG MEMORIAL

Douglass Hutchins bred and owns Martiniwithmuscle, who is among the nine horses entered in Friday’s $340,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for three-year-old male trotters at Vernon Downs. Martiniwithmuscle will start from Post 5 with driver Tim Tetrick and is 8-1 on the morning line.

Seven years ago, Hutchins watched Martiniwithmuscle’s mom, Cocktail Hour, win a filly division of the Zweig Memorial at Tioga Downs.

“Maybe he can follow in her footsteps,” said Hutchins, a veterinarian from Maine. “It’s probably farfetched, but we’ll take a shot. He’s probably a little over his head right now, but he’s well-bred and well cared for.”

Martiniwithmuscle, who has won five of 13 career races and earned $52,695, will face a Zweig field that includes Father Patrick and Nuncio, two million-dollar earners from the stable of trainer Jimmy Takter. The entry is the 5-2 morning line favourite.

Limited to four starts at age two because of allergies, Martiniwithmuscle started this season with back-to-back wins in conditioned races at the Meadowlands. Three starts later, he finished second to Trixton in the New Jersey Sire Stakes championship and Hutchins was aiming for an appearance in the Hambletonian.

But Martiniwithmusle went offstride in his next two starts, a conditioned race and the Stanley Dancer Memorial, and returned to Maine for evaluation.

“I’d hoped to race in the Hambletonian, but he made those two breaks, which I couldn’t explain,” Hutchins said. “He seemed a little stressed (in New Jersey) maybe. We brought him home and couldn’t find anything. He didn’t seem sore.

“We brought him back to Maine and he seems a lot happier. We changed his shoeing a little bit. I think he’s just happier with (trainer Ivan Davies) up in Maine where he’s been. He’s been with Ivan for quite a bit. You’ve got to keep your horses happy.”

Martiniwithmuscle returned to his winning ways after the brief respite. With Davies handling the driving, he won a conditioned start at Plainridge Racecourse on August 6 and heads to the Zweig off a nine and a half-length victory in 1:55.1 in the Open at Plainridge on August 20.

“I don’t think he’s shown his true potential yet,” Hutchins said about Martiniwithmuscle, who is a son of stallion Muscle Hill and whose maternal family includes 1986 Hambletonian Oaks winner and multiple Breeders Crown champion JEFs Spice. “He went really good last week, so we’re hoping for a pretty good race in the Zweig, although he’s probably not in the same category as Father Patrick or Nuncio.”

Martiniwithmuscle’s remaining stakes schedule includes the Bluegrass Stakes and Kentucky Futurity in Lexington, plus the Yonkers Trot and Breeders Crown.

“For as little racing he got last year, he showed a lot of potential,” Hutchins said. “He’s always had a fluid gait to him. He’s been a great-gaited colt all along. I think he’s done pretty well this year, all things considered.”

SHAKE IT CERRY FAVOURED IN ZWEIG FILLY DIVISION

Shake It Cerry is the 5-2 morning line favourite in the $150,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for three-year-old female trotters. She will start from Post 6 for trainer Jimmy Takter and driver Ron Pierce.

A daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig, Shake It Cerry has won seven of nine races this year, including the Delvin Miller Memorial on July 12. She is coming in off of a 1:53.1 win in her division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at the Meadows on August 12.

For her career, Shake It Cerry has won 15 of 20 career races and earned $1.14 million. She was the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old female trotter.

Broadway Socks, who will start the Zweig’s filly division from Post 1 with Dan Rawlings at the lines for trainer David Wade, is the 7-2 second choice. She has won six of nine races this year, including divisions of the Arden Downs and Currier & Ives stakes.

She most recently was second to Lifetime Pursuit in a world-record-equalling 1:51.3 mile in their division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at the Meadows on August 12.

The full field – in post order with drivers and morning line odds – appears below.

1 – Broadway Socks – Dan Rawlings – 7-2
2 – Avalicious – Jim Morrill Jr. – 9-2
3 – Bikini So Teeny – Charlie Norris – 10-1
4 – Heavens Door – Ake Svanstedt – 8-1
5 – Crediama – Tim Tetrick – 6-1
6 – Shake It Cerry – Ron Pierce – 5-2
7 – Struck By Lindy – Brian Sears – 10-1
8 – Slice Slice Baby – Mark MacDonald – 12-1
9 – Passing Jetta – Corey Callahan – 8-1


This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.


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