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Zweig Stake could be tall order for Order By Keeper
Thursday, August 22, 2013 - by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications

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Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Nancy Takter Johansson and her husband, Marcus, run a small (15 horses) stable in central New Jersey. Like any startup business, they’re happy for new customers.

When the call came from Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter to take a promising 3-year-old trotter named Order By Keeper, Johansson had a repeat customer. Takter is also her father and former employer, having worked for him as a caretaker and second trainer. Order By Keeper is owned by her mother, Christina Takter, along with Joyce McClelland, Order By Stable and John Fielding.

Now Johansson has entered the black colt in the $360,000 Zweig Memorial on Sunday evening (Aug. 25) at Vernon Downs, his first foray into open stakes competition. He races from post four with Yannick Gingras driving.

USTA/Mark Hall photo
Nancy Johansson will be sending Order By Keeper to Sunday's Zweig at Vernon.

“I had Kegler Hanover for them, too, and he was doing really good racing in New York sired races (two wins, a second and a third) and Order By Keeper is NY sired, too,” said Johansson. “I guess he (Takter) didn’t want him to get lost in a big stable. I think he really likes the horse; it’s just that he thought I could give him more personalized care.

“He had won in 1:53.4 (in an overnight race on May 17) for him at the Meadowlands. My dad didn’t have any other New York sired trotting colts so we ship him with the other horse, Kegler Hanover.”

Johansson hasn’t been reluctant to overhaul Order By Keeper’s routine and rigging, even if he did come from a Hall of Fame trainer.

“I changed his shoes, I changed all his equipment. I changed everything. Marcus (who does the stable’s farrier work) said, ‘You’re nuts. You got a horse from your dad that won in 1:53 and you’re changing everything.’

“But you know what? He’s made $100,000 (while in her stable) now. I think it’s just a preference of how I want the horse to go. I just want to make him better. I don’t even know if he’s (Takter) noticed that I changed everything.

I think the main thing that helped him (Order By Keeper) coming to us is that he is now in a small stable. It was stressful for him and he had some stomach ulcer issues when my dad had him. That can be common in big stables with a lot going on all the time. We have 15 horses, so he’s king of the barn now.

“He gets tons of turnout time, maybe three hours a day. We have time to sit out there and walk him on the track and I can jog him for 30 minutes. There’s no stress whatsoever in our barn and I think that helps him more than anything.”

Mike Lizzi photo
Order By Keeper has won a pair of New York Sire Stakes races since heading into the care of trainer Nancy Johansson.

Order By Keeper has two wins in New York Sires Stake races (both at Yonkers Raceway) since Johnasson took over the training, along with a second and fourth place finish.

He’s been racing really well in the Sire Stakes and I kind of felt like he deserved a shot and it (the Zweig) was on his stakes schedule,” said Johansson. He has enough points for the Sire Stake final already, so I figured let’s just give him a shot and see how he does.

He raced really well in Vernon when he raced in the sire stakes up there (a fourth place finish on July 13 in which he made a break at the head of the stretch). Cat (driver Cat Manzi) kind of let him go a little bit and he out-trotted himself and he ran. But I think he would have been right there with (winner) E L Rocket that night and they went in 1:53.1.

“He raced super at Saratoga (a second place finish on Aug. 6), came :28.1 last quarter, which I think is good.”

Johnasson has no illusions about Order By Keeper dominating the race, which includes Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life and Colonial winner Spider Blue Chip.

“I think he’s probably better off the pace, especially in the group he’s going to be in Sunday. I don’t want Yannick (driver Gingras) to go out there and do anything crazy with him. Off the pace is probably the place he’s going to be.

He’s very honest, an honest horse. I think he’s going to be better on a big track than on a small track. He just puts it together and manages to win. The last race he won at Yonkers (on July 30 in 1:58.2), I was thinking, ‘He’s never going to win this race,’ but he just did it. I love horses like that, they find a way to get it done.

He’s got a super pedigree (Credit Winner out of the Yankee Glide mare Fabulous Kemp), too, so there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to go with the big boys. He’s a horse that deserves a shot against the big boys. We’ll see how he goes.”

Below is the field for Sunday's Zweig Memorial:

$360,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial
1-Jacks To Open-Andy Miller-Nick Surick
2-Aperfectyankee-Jim Oscarsson-Jim Oscarsson
3-Smilin Eli-Tim Tetrick-David Smith
4-Order By Keeper-Yannick Gingras-Nancy Johansson
5-Spider Blue Chip-Ron Pierce-Chuck Sylvester
6-Modest Prince-Jeff Gregory-Linda Toscano
7-Corky-David Miller-Jimmy Takter
8-Pine Credit-TBA-Erv Miller
9-Royalty For Life-Brian Sears-George Ducharme

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