08/08/2015 5:28PM

Meadowlands: Pinkman wins 2015 Hambletonian

Brian Sears is all business guiding Pinkman home a winner.

Trainer Jimmy Takter is known as the trotting master for a reason. The Hall of Famer captured the Hambletonian (and the Hambo Oaks) for the second consecutive year as Pinkman won the $1,000,000 final in 1:51 for driver Brian Sears.

Pinkman was used hard winning the first elimination, making his way to the front past the 26 2/5 opening quarter. He would settle in the pocket behind uncoupled stablemate The Bank before taking aim in the stretch and getting up under a drive in 1:51 2/5 for driver Yannick Gingras.

It was a brush and crush victory for favored Mission Brief in the second elimination heat, also with Gingras in the bike. After watching French Laundry wrestle the lead from Uncle Lasse, the filly made her move and charged to the front at the half in 54 2/5. Once in command, Gingras opened up with ease in the stretch, stopping the timer in 1:51 3/5 to win by 4-3/4 lengths.

Then came the decision. Gingras, who broke with the favored Father Patrick in a bid to win his first Hambletonian in 2014, would need to choose between his two elimination winners and ultimately came up three-quarters of a length short.

Fresh with trotting hobbles added for the second heat, Uncle Lasse was fast off the gate in an opening quarter of 27 2/5 in the final before The Bank made a quick brush to the front. With Takter trainees sitting first and second, Pinkman rushed up to assume command prior to the half in 55 2/5.

Mission Brief, a heavy favorite perhaps due to Gingras’ decision to drive, was sent to the rim to make her move at the half and began to mount her charge. She loomed past three quarters in 1:23 2/5, but Pinkman had plenty left and held safely over a closing Mission Brief at the wire. Uncle Lasse and The Bank, also Jimmy Takter trainees, finished third and fourth.

Takter, who drove Hambletonian winner Trixton and won the Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit in 2014, and earlier on the card sent out Oaks winner Wild Honey, spoke of the decision by Gingras to choose Mission Brief.

“I understand the situation Yannick was in. I tried to tell him I thought he was making a big mistake,” said Takter.

Gingras was gracious as usual despite the second-place finish. “I’m still young and I’m blessed to have had two great chances at the Hambo the last few years,” said Gingras. “I’ll have plenty more chances, I hope. Everybody ignores Pinkman. He’s just a flat-out winner and you have to give him all the credit in the world.”

Sears came to the Meadowlands on Saturday listed to drive two longshots in the eliminations and somehow wound up behind second-choice Pinkman in the final.

“Can’t say that I did,” said Sears on whether he expected to be in the winner’s circle after the Hambletonian.

It was the third Hambletonian win for Sears and the fourth for Takter.

Pinkman returned $5.60 to win and became the first gelding to win the race since Vivid Photo in 2005. He is owned by Christina Takter, John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland and Herb Liverman.

Pinkman has now earned $1,787,925 while winning 15 of 18 career races. The 1:51 final time was a career best.​

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