by Frank Carulli
October 30, 2018
Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter’s farewell tour made a familiar stop in the Breeders Crown winners’ circle last Saturday.
Takter, 58, will retire at the end of the year with a record 34 Crown victories after Tactical Landing trotted to a 5-length win in the 3-Year-Old Colt Pace at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Brian Sears guided the 2-to-5 favorite past pace-setting, runner-up Met’s Hall before the half-mile marker and the son of Muscle Hill never looked back. Tactical Landing improved to 8-for-13 and nearly doubled his $292, 800 bankroll for Tactical Landing Stable of Perrysburg, Ohio.
Takter trained three champions the previous three years, at least one Breeders Crown winner every year this decade and has more than double the winners of any other trainer in the event’s history.
“You train quality horses over the years like I do, it adds up,” said Takter. “I’ve been very lucky, too, getting those horses at the right moments.”
The “moment” didn’t escape from several other talented Breeders Crown freshman and sophomore champions as this week’s recap indicates. All of the 2-year-old races carried a $600,000 purse and the 3-year-old finals went for at least $500,000.
Driver Matt Kakaley, whose career almost ended in a race-riding accident in March, is excused for being “overwhelmed” by his first two Breeders Crown victories, both in the 3-year-old pacing division.
Percy Bluechip ($106) scored the night’s biggest upset, sweeping past favorite Kissin In The Sand in 3YO Filly Pace, before Dorsoduro Hanover ($6) tracked a lively pace battle and launched a winning third-quarter move in the 3YO Colt Pace to win by 4-1/2 lengths in 1:49.4.
“It was a rush of emotions going back to the winner’s circle,” said Kakaley. “My grandparents were there, my parents, my daughter, my girlfriend, all my friends that I’ve hung around with that live here. It meant a lot.”
Ron Burke, the leading trainer in North America, was also there, putting the finishing touches on a Breeders Crown trifecta.
Warrawee Ubeaut (Yannick Gingras, $4) got Team Burke started when she emerged from an action-packed opening half mile to take the lead in the 2-Year-Old Filly Pace, then held off fast-closing Zero Tolerance to win a half-length in 1:52.3.
Burke co-owned all three winners, while Weaver Bruscemi LLC, Purnel & Libby LLC, Wingfield Five LLC, J & T Silva Stable, Phil Collura and Donald Emond shared in the stable’s success.
Perfection reigned in the 2-Year-Old Trot division. New York Sire Stakes champion Gimpanzee (Brian Sears, $3) proved best among the colts with an easy 2-1/2-length win in 1:54.4, his ninth in a row for Courant Inc and S R F Stable of Delray Beach, Florida and trainer Marcus Melander. But Woodside Charm ($2.20) stole the show for owner-driver-trainer Verlin Yoder with a wire-to-wire victory in 1:51.4 in the fillies division, her seventh straight. When Dovescry (Simon Allard) tried to force the issue but settled for second best. “I figured I’d move a little early and come to her bridle,” said Allard. “Maybe she never had someone coming to her bridle. And, yeah, I had no shot.”
The 3-Year-Old Filly Trot featured Hambletonian winner Atlanta, Hambletonian Oaks winner Manchego and $500,000 earners Phaetosive and Plunge Blue Chip. But Lily’s Stride (Tim Tetrick) spoiled the party, slipping through a rail opening en route to a 31-1 shocker in a 1:52.3 blanket finish. It was the first Crown victory for owners Emilio and Maria Roasti of Australia and trainer Mark Harder. “They all went outside and we took a shortcut.” said Tetrick
Captain Crunch (Scott Zeron, $11.20) angled out of the pocket and past favorite Proof near the stretch and cruised to a 3-length score in 1:51.3. Nancy Johansson trains the son of Captaintreacherous for Roman Stables, Caviart Farms, 3 Brothers Stable and Christina Takter.
Next we’ll take a look at the Breeders Crown championships for older horses.