East Rutherford, NJ --- Trixton and trainer/driver Jimmy Takter bested a stubborn stablemate Nuncio (John Campbell) in a stretch drive down the lane to win the $1,006,125, 89th Hambletonian on Saturday (Aug. 2) at The Meadowlands in 1:50.3. The time was the second fastest in the history of the race, behind his sire Muscle Hill, who won the 2009 Hambletonian in 1:50.1.
USTA/Mark Hall photo Winning driver/trainer Jimmy Takter celebrates in the Hambletonian winner's circle with Trixton (1:50.3) on Saturday at The Meadowlands.
Takter became the eighth trainer to win three Hambletonians; there are 12 men that have had three or more. It was Takter’s first Hambletonian winner as a driver.
With three horses making breaks at the gate, including the favorite at 3-5, Father Patrick, along with Doncango and Datsyuk, the picture changed abruptly as the field turned in to the :26.3 first quarter with Nuncio (John Campbell) in the lead, with Royal Ice (Ron Pierce) behind him.
Those two led the field to the :54 half when Royal Ice and Pierce tipped out alongside Nuncio past the half-mile mark. Royal Ice could not get by and when the field entered the turn, following the 1:23 three-quarter clocking, Trixton was three wide around a tiring Royal Ice and was up to engage Nuncio and Campbell.
Those two went stride for stride down the stretch, with Nuncio not giving ground until the final strides, when Trixton got a half-length in front for the win.
Trixton is owned by Brixton Medical Ab of Sweden and Christina Takter. The Muscle Hill-Emilie Cas El colt won for the seventh time in nine starts this year and increased his season's bankroll to $786,918. The $360,000 yearling has now banked $840,605 lifetime.
Takter became the second trainer to win the Oaks and Hambletonian in the same year. Armbro Goal and Nan’s Catch were trained by Jan Johnson in 1988.
“It’s going to take a day or two to sink in,” said Takter. “I had a great day and just won the Oaks before, it’ll take a while to absorb. It’s too much good. Our God gave it to me, I’m so happy.”
Asked if he thought Trixton could have stayed with Father Patrick had he not made a break, Takter was decisive.
“No. Not to take anything away from Trixton, he’s a fantastic horse and I give a lot of credit to Nuncio, too. But in my opinion, he’s (Father Patrick) the best horse of the three.
“I worked with this horse (Trixton) every single day, I handled him from day one. He had to come a long way, I have to thank (Dr.) Patty Hogan, who fixed him up after he got hurt (sesamoid fracture at the end of his 2-year-old season). There are so many people behind you that have a big part. I’ve got a great team and I thank all of them for what they’ve done for me.”
Takter said he was not aware of where Father Patrick was throughout the race, or that he’d made a break.
“I suspected something was going on (with Father Patrick) in the last half. Patrick would have been right there, he would have come up right behind me.”
USTA/Mark Hall photo Favorite Father Patrick made a break at the start of the race.
Father Patrick's driver, Yannick Gingras, who won the Hambletonian Oaks and four other races on the day, said, “It’s been probably the best day I’ve had racing horses, but also the most disappointing day I’ve ever had. I scored him down pretty hard because I’ve never left with him before. I wanted him to pay attention and be ready for (the start). The gate opened and I touched him on the tail with the whip and he took off running. It’s so unfortunate. Knock on wood (tapping the right side of his helmet), I’ll have another chance. But he never will.”
“I was very excited,” said Trixton's co-owner, Christina Takter. “This is so much fun and everybody works so hard to get here and not everybody gets here. And today, being here with the whole family, all the kids and the grandkids and everything we’ve been through, day out and day in, this is just the icing on the cake.”
“He raced great,” said John Campbell of second place finisher Nuncio. “He was pressured in the first half but when I asked him in the turn he took off. He just didn’t have enough to hold off Trixton. This horse had raced great all year long. Never been worse than second.”
Takter was not sure where his trio might start again, but he was sure about his own plans.
“I’m going someplace and I’m not going to think about horses for a week,” he said with a smile.
The complete order of finish beyond the top two was Harper Blue Chip, Il Sogno Dream, Resolve, Datsyuk, JJ Alex, Royal Ice, Don Dorado, Doncango, and Father Patrick.