Trixton

Race Summary

“This is my moment,” Takter said when he returned to the jubilant winner’s
circle. “I don’t drive that much and normally when I have a top contender I put
the best possible driver on to have a shot. I thought that this was my shot and
if I was going to do it, I’d do it today, otherwise it wouldn’t happen.”

 
Takter said he came into the race confident in his three horses, but
understood the pressure on Yannick Gingras with overwhelming favorite
Father Patrick.

 
“Horses win and lose, and hey, I know how it is,” said Takter. “Yannick
had a lot of pressure on him and that’s the way it is. Me, what kind of pressure
on me? I have the three best horses in the field. If I finished third, everybody
is happy. If I win, it’s great.”

 
For the first time ever, the Hambletonian was raced without heats or
eliminations. Without elims and the conditions that provide the winners pick their
posts for the final, all 11 entries went into an open draw. While the prohibitive
favorite was going to be Father Patrick, who was five-for-five this year and riding
a 15-race win streak dating back to last year, he drew the outside post 10.
Father Patrick became the shortest-priced horse to not capture the trotting
classic when he went offstride for the first time in his 17-start career. Gingras
said comments he made immediately after- ward that gave the impression he
hit Father Patrick with the whip to rev him up were misinterpreted.

 
“People took it the wrong way and that I was blasting him to a :24 quarter,
and that’s not what I was trying to do,” Gingras said two days afterward, with
disappointment still in his voice. “I literally just laid the whip on his tail. I didn’t
hit him, I just laid the tip on his tail. The gate had just opened and I had a good
hold on him. It scared him and it was an unfortunate mistake at the worst time
ever. I was in shock.”

 
Although Father Patrick’s break at the start led to a loud gasp heard
through the Meadowlands grandstand, Takter said he was unaware of what
transpired.

 
“I started looking behind me at the half and I didn’t see him, so I knew
something must have happened,” said Takter. “I thought Patrick would
have come up behind me and been right there.”

 
Takter won with Trixton despite being parked every step of the mile. He
said he was fortunate he found live cover in Royal Ice and Ron Pierce.
“I said I had to follow Ronnie, because I know Ronnie would try
to get something really hard,” Takter said of Pierce, who has won three
Hambletonians, including Muscle Massive. “When I saw Ronnie had left and
I got behind him, I was very fortunate Ronnie didn’t get in as he really tried to
get in the hole behind Nuncio. That would have changed things.

 
“I thought in the middle of the last turn my horse felt really strong. I knew
Ronnie would come back to me. I figured Nuncio had to be a little bit taken
by the pace and I thought I might have a shot at it.”

 
While Takter was poised to make history if his trio of horses would have
finished one-two-three in the Hambletonian, he had to settle for a share of
the record books with his one-two finish, duplicating his effort in 1997 when
he finished first and second respectively with Malabar Man (driven by Mal
Burroughs) and Take Chances (Wally Hennessey).

 
Takter said he would have been happy no matter the finish order of his
horses.

 
“If Nuncio had won, I didn’t care,” he said. “But of course I wanted to
win it. I’m 53 years old and you see how the sport is today, with all these great
drivers. “Nuncio is not the easiest horse. He raced his heart out. He raced a
heck of a race and he was tough to get by. John (Campbell) wanted this race
so bad. He congratulated me after the race but I saw (the disappointment).”
Takter said he wasn’t bothered by not sweeping the trifecta.

 
“I finished first and second in the Hambletonian, how sweet is that?” said
Tak- ter, who was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2012. “I know that if
Patrick had stayed flat he would have come up behind me and he would have
blown by both of us in the stretch. And we would have been first, second and
third. But things don’t always work out the way you hope for. Don’t take me
wrong, I’m on cloud nine right now.”

 
Jimmy Takter said he believes nothing should be read into Father Patrick’s
miscue. “It’s not like this was his last race. It’s horse racing,” he said.
Gingras agreed. “I was very happy for Jimmy as I knew how much it
meant to him to win,” said Gingras. “But I still think Patrick is the best horse
and he’ll prove it the rest of the year.”

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