07/11/2012 11:29AM

Meadowlands: Takter still confident in Simply Business entering Pace

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Ken Weingartner
Simply Business won the $1 million Metro at Mohawk last year.

Few trainers have the knack for putting all their eggs in one basket and coming out a winner like Jimmy Takter. Six weeks ago, Takter, without the aid of a crystal ball, predicted a Meadowlands Pace victory for Simply Business.  On Saturday in the $600,000 final we have the opportunity to find out if Takter’s forecasting powers are on par with his conditioning ability.

Following a strong 2-year-old campaign which featured multiple stakes victories, highlighted by the $1 million Metro at Mohawk Racetrack, Simply Business entered 2012 heralded as one of the top sophomore prospects. But often success as a rookie fails to translate into a strong second season.

“A lot of times you get very disappointed because you get a great 2-year-old and your really high on this colt coming back for their 3-year-old season and they are just no good,” said Simply Business’s regular driver Ron Pierce.

At 0 for 7 this year, Simply Business has been mostly an also-ran, picking up small pieces against the divisional leaders. While that is hardly a record which inspires the confidence to make bold predictions, Takter has not lost his bravado.

“I really think he is going to win the race,” said Takter on Tuesday at the Pace press conference. “I have a good vibe about it.”

Although it is hard to see from afar where Takter’s confidence in Simply Business emanates, only a trainer can truly know the program a horse is on and how long a horse will take to reach his potential.

One small hint of a form reversal appeared to come in the colt’s elimination race. Simply Business was actually gaining some ground in the stretch. Pierce, who has stuck with the colt as his main 3-year-old drive all year, called it the best he had seen the colt race in a long time.

“I saw him when Jimmy first brought him out (in 2012),” said Pierce. “He’s a big, heavy-boned horse and he was carrying a lot of extra weight. Jimmy had him really bulked up, and every race now he is getting a little more fit; it’s taken him a while.”

Despite the positive effort, Simply Business still gapped cover during the mile, a trait that will hinder his chances of winning against a stacked field of 10 finalists. But perhaps a bit of fine tuning will make the difference.

“I thought he raced tremendous (in his elimination) and he is going to race even better in his second time with Lasix,” said Takter, who felt the key might me a bridle adjustment. “We’ll make a couple of changes so he can see, a couple of adjustments.”

Those with a short memory will forget that Simply Business gunned off the wings of the gate in the Metro (26-second opening quarter) and showed early speed of 27 in a leg of the NJSS back on May 26. His façade of a plodder may be unwarranted.

Although Takter would not commit to Simply Business, who starts from post 6, gunning to the front, he did hint at a more aggressive try on Saturday.

“I wouldn’t mind seeing him get roughed up a little bit. But I’ll leave that up to Ronnie (Pierce),” said Takter.

Should Takter’s premonitions about Simply Business fail to materialize, there remains hope for the newest Hall of Fame inductee. Even though the trainer admits that Simply Business is his best shot at a Pace win on Saturday, Time To Roll, who finished second in the $1.5 million North America Cup, is no slouch, either.

“He’s a big colt and he’s got a license to play here, too,” said Takter about Time To Roll, who finished fifth in his elimination while trying new tactics on the front end.

“He went 54 to the half and hadn’t raced in three weeks,” he continued.” I’m really not much for training horses fast between races. Going into the race he may have been a little short, but [driver Andy Miller] was happy with him. He was sluggish in the stretch but came back a little bit.”

Time To Roll will have to overcome post 9 in the final, and considering how he raced on the engine last week, he may find himself with the tough task of trying to close from last. Even a master like Takter will have trouble pulling that rabbit out of his hat.

That leads us back to Simply Business and whether Takter knows something about the son of Rocknroll Hanover that the public could find out on Saturday. Pierce, who has been Takter’s go-to driver for many years and got a special mention during the trainer’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, is a believer.

“Jimmy aims horses for certain races,” said Pierce.” He is aiming this horse for the Pace and hopefully he can get him good enough.”

The Meadowlands Pace is scheduled as race 11 on a 13-race program which also includes the $245,500 Del Miller, $190,850 Mistletoe Shalee, and two divisions of the Stanley Dancer for over $150,000 each.

First race post time is 6:35 P.M.