10/09/2014 3:36PM

Balmoral: Takter fillies set for American-National showdown

Derick Giwner
Shake It Cerry looks to avenge her loss to Lifetime Pursuit in the Hambletonian Oaks.

Shake It Cerry, who put forth a dominating performance in the 49th edition of the $224,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity last Sunday at Lexington’s famed Red Mile, heads up a field of ten diagonally-gaited distaffers in Saturday’s $150,000 American-National for 3-year-old trotting fillies, slated as the sixth race at Balmoral Park.

The daughter of Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide stopped the timer in 1:52 2/5 for driver Ron Pierce and trainer Jimmy Takter in the Filly Futurity on Oct. 5. She set fractions of 27 4/5, 56 2/5 and 1:25 1/5 on the engine before drawing off by 5½ lengths in the stretch.

“The Kentucky Filly Futurity worked out perfect for her,” said Takter. “It’s a heck of a mile for a trotting filly with the weather we had there.  Ronnie (driver Pierce) said she was just perfect and had a few seconds left in her.  Throughout her career, her races have been very good.  She’s a very special horse.”

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That triumph just seven days ago pushed Shake It Cerry’s career earnings to $1,562,205 for the Solveig Partner’s Racing of East Windsor, NJ, who also bred the filly. She comes into the American National looking for her sixth consecutive victory from post position nine and will have her regular driver Ron Pierce in the sulky, while stablemate and her most serious rival, 2014 Hambletonian Oaks winner Lifetime Pursuit, will start from post one with Yannick Gingras behind.

“Lifetime has a little better starting position but both fillies are coming into the American-National in great shape,” Takter offered. “Both of them came out of their Lexington races well, and I don’t believe we’ll make any shoeing changes or rigging adjustments going form the clay to the limestone surface.  Both of those fillies have been fantastic through this year and they are in a class of their own.  I’m very happy with both of them.”

Shake It Cerry has 11 wins this year with $734,436 in seasonal earnings from 13 starts.  Lifetime she’s amassed 19 wins in 24 starts.

Lifetime Pursuit is certainly no slouch either, as she’s collected $944,099 in her career with 14 wins, four seconds and a pair of thirds in 25 starts.  This season she’s won eight races in 14 starts and added another $673,729 to her bankroll, while lowering her career mark to 1:50 4/5 via her Oaks triumph on Aug. 2 at The Meadowlands.

“Both fillies will race in the Breeders Crown, as long as they remain sound and healthy,” Takter added. “We don’t have a big stable; we only have about 40 horses in training and they’re all racing, but we have a good staff, and our crew makes sure all the horses get the proper attention they need.”

Takter has ten horses competing in American-National contests Saturday, including his standout two-million dollar earning sophomore trotter Father Patrick, who heads up a field of ten in the $203,000 American-National 3-Year-Old Colt Trot, slated as the fourth race.

Father Patrick is owned by the Father Patrick Stables of East Windsor, NJ and to date has earnings of $2,036,258. Last Sunday at The Red Mile he was bested by stablemate Nuncio in the $435,000 Kentucky Futurity. Coincidentally, Nuncio was only horse to defeat Father Patrick during his freshman campaign.

“Patrick is used to being on our farm and getting his pasture time and I don’t think he was actually on his best game last Sunday,” Tatker said.  “Yannick (driver Gingras) said ‘maybe I pulled him too early,’ and maybe he did, but I don’t think the horse was quite himself that day and that’s not taking anything away from Nuncio, because he deserved that win. But let’s just say that I expect Patrick to be more himself this coming Saturday at Balmoral.”

Takter, 53, was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012 and has conditioned three Hambletonian champions, including this year’s winner Trixton, whom he also drove to win trotting’s biggest event.  He also harnessed Hambo champs Muscle Massive in 2010 and Malabar Man in 1997. Despite training more than 1,487 winners to $86,429,844 in purses, Takter says Father Patrick is in a league of his own.

“I had a lot of great horses,” Takter acknowledged. “I’d been looking for that horse I consider quite outstanding. I think Father Patrick is that horse. He’s so flexible, has a great gait and a very sound horse. He’s extremely easy to work with and never gives you a bad day He’s one of a kind.”

Takter will also harness Odds On Amethyst in this same event, from post two for driver Tim Tetrick and owner Diamond Creek Racing of Wellsville, PA.  The son of Muscle Hill was a bit cantankerous as a youngster, but did earn $88,988 and recorded a mark of 1:54 2/5 at Lexington.  The rambunctious colt has been paired with Takter since late summer and seems to be making a turn for the better.

“He’s not exactly what I would describe as a sweetheart,” said Takter. “But we’ve been helping him get comfortable with his daily work and routine, and as result, he’s become more manageable.  He’s a big, powerful horse and can go with them.  His problem is not in a race; actually in a race he’s quite nice.  His main issue is before the race—warming up, and all the commotion that goes along with racing.”

The Saturday Balmoral card features 11 American-National races and gets underway at 8:10 p.m.