Jimmy Takter-trained two-year-old trotters dominated Friday night's (July 29) eliminations for the Peter Haughton Memorial and Jim Doherty Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack.
The undefeated freshman trotting colt Rubio and the maiden-breaking King On The Hill were inseparable at the wire in a dead-heat of the Takter trainees during the first of two $20,000 eliminations for the Peter Haughton Memorial.
New Jersey Viking (Ake Svanstedt) emerged from the group of early leavers forcing Devious Man (Andy Miller) into the pocket spot through a :27.4 first quarter and proceeded to the half in :57.2. At the race's mid-point, Gingras made his move tipping 1-2 favourite Rubio first over with his stablemate King On The Hill and Tim Tetrick following second over. Rubio confronted the leading New Jersey Viking as they raced by three-quarters in 1:26.3 and edged ahead into the stretch with King Of The Hill chasing off his cover. King Of The Hill caught Rubio with a final surge in deep stretch and they hit the wire together in 1:54.2, a career-best mile for both colts. Snowstorm Hanover (Matt Kakaley) closed from third over to finish third, four and a half lengths behind, while Devious Man and New Jersey Viking completed the top five finish order.
"I was very happy with both horses. They raced tremendous," said Takter.
Undefeated in four starts, Rubio paid $2.10 to win. The Cantab Hall-Italienne Girl colt was a $75,000 Lexington Selected Sale purchase and is owned by Takter's wife Christina, Toronto-based partners John and Jim Fielding, and Brixton Medical Inc. of Matawan, New Jersey. King On The Hill is also owned by Christina Takter along with breeder Goran Falk of Allentown, New Jersey, the Hatfield Stables of Columbus, Ohio, and Sweden's Goran Anderberg. The son of Muscle Hill out of Lantern Kronos, who was a close runner-up in the New Jersey Sire Stakes Final, returned $5.20 to win.
Takter and Gingras completed a sweep of the Haughton eliminations as the Italian-bred Victor Gio IT held off New Jersey Sire Stakes champion and 3-5 favourite What The Hill for a 1:54.4 maiden-breaking victory.
Songnatra (David Miler) moved into lead from post four and trotted a :29 first quarter while three freshmen made early breaks, including insider Southwind Cobra (Matt Kakaley) allowing What The Hill (Tim Tetrick) to inherit the pocket position. Songnatra carved out middle splits of :58 and 1:26.3 while 9-5 second choice Victor Gio IT advanced from third and took over command down the stretch with What The Hill closing in, but coming up a half-length short by the wire. Another Chapter (Brett Miller) finished two and three-quarters lengths behind in third over Songnatra, who broke stride but remained fourth despite losing ground. Eternal Patrol (Marcus Melander) was fifth.
Victor Gio IT rebounded from a break in stride in his Kindergarten career debut last weekend to earn his first victory and paid $6.20 to win. The son of Ready Cash and Ilaria Jet is owned by Christina Takter and Italian partners Antonio Somma and Francesco Ruscigno, and Sweden's Nicolas De Mitri.
"He's a very immature colt physically and mentally, but he's a very fast horse," said Takter, praising Gingras for keeping the colt together. "He could be as fast as any two-year-old I've had at this point. He's got wicked speed, this horse, but he looked a little bumpy out there today. I wasn't really 100 percent pleased how he looked, but he got the job done."
Another undefeated Takter trainee, New Jersey Sire Stakes filly champion Ariana G delivered as the overwhelming 1-9 favourite in the first of two $20,000 eliminations for the Jim Doherty Memorial Trot, formerly called the Merrie Annabelle.
Unhurried through a :28.1 first quarter, Ariana G followed in fourth-place into the backstretch before Gingras sent her up to take over the lead past the :57.1 half-mile mark. The Takter pupil headed by three-quarters in 1:25.4 and then cruised home for the two-length victory in 1:54.1. Broadway Idole (David Miller) and Waffle Cone (Matt Kakaley) finished second and third after taking turns on the lead early in the mile. Rosesareexplosive (Tim Tetrick) and Evelyn (Ake Svanstedt) finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Ariana G paid $2.10 to win. The perfect daughter of Muscle Hill out of Cantab It All, now three-for-three to start her career, is owned and was bred by Marvin Katz of Toronto and Al Libfeld of Pickering, Ont.
"She's actually very similar to her sister [Breeders Crown champion All The Time] the way she goes and the way she handles herself. She's beautiful to drive," said Gingras after the race.
Chezatter and driver David Miller denied Takter and Gingras a sweep of the Doherty eliminations as they defeated the popular six-figure filly Thats All Moni.
With the inside post advantage, Cameron Hill (John Campbell) held the lead around the first turn with 3-5 favourite Thats All Moni (Yannick Gingras) pressing on to her outside from post two. Thats All Moni took over command through the :28 first quarter before Chezatter and Miller swept from third to first down the backstretch to the half in :57.4 and then raced to three-quarters in 1:27.4. Meanwhile, Donato Fashion (Tim Tetrick) had inherited fourth-place when the quick-leaving outsider Amuses (Andrew McCarthy) broke stride and she began to advance, but Thats All Moni was flushed back out of the two-hole and reclaimed the lead into the stretch. However, Chezatter fought back down the lane and drew two lengths clear en route to the 1:54.3 career-best victory. Thats All Moni, another Takter trainee with a perfect two-for-two record heading into the elims, settled for second-place honours this time out while Onda Su (Corey Callahan) edged out Donato Fashion for third. The final filly to advance was Sianna Hanover (Matt Kakaley) in fifth-place.
Chezatter paid $9 to win as the 7-2 second wagering choice. The Explosive Matter-Chez Lucie filly, who was $30,000 Harrisburg Sale yearling purchase, is now three-for-four in her career for trainer Trond Smedshammer and the Purple Haze Stables LLC of Fairport, New York. Her only prior defeat was a narrow second-place finish behind Thats All Moni in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes event on July 12.
The top five finishers from the eliminations will advance to the final with elim winners drawing for post positions one through six. The finals will be contested on Hambletonian Day, August 6.
Gingras' success continued beyond the eliminations as he won seven of the evening's 13 races. He also teamed up with Takter for a victory aboard the three-year-old trotting colt Reigning Moni and capped off a training triple for Ron Burke when he steered four-year-old trotting mare Hannelore Hanover to a 1:51.1 divisional track record victory against a field of males in the $25,000 Open Handicap Trot.
After leading the way through panels of :27, :55.3 and 1:24.2, JL Cruze (John Campbell) began to drift out in the stretch and Hannelore Hanover, who regrouped from an early break in stride from the backfield, managed to track him down for the half-length victory with a :26.1 closing kick. Obrigado (Mark MacDonald) followed one and three-quarter lengths behind in third.
The Swan For All-High Sobriety mare, who is now 10-for-11 on the year, was the 3-5 favourite and paid $3.20 to win. She is owned by Burke Racing Stable LLC, Weaver Bruscemi LLC and Frank Baldachino.