11/10/2016 10:47PM

Meadowlands: Takter trio calling it a career after TVG Finals

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Nikki Sherman
Bar Hopping will tackle older foes in the TVG Final on Saturday.

Saturday’s TVG Finals at The Meadowlands will provide the swan song setting for more than one horse from the Jimmy Takter stable. In addition to Open Pace heavy favorite Always B Miki, Takter will send out the 5-year-old Shake It Cerry in the Mare Trot and Bar Hopping in the Open Trot.

“It’s going to be the last race for all three,” said Takter, suggesting that Bar Hopping will find residence as a stallion in 2017 after an impressive late season that vaulted him into the $400,000 event on Saturday against top aged trotters.

“It’s very tough for a 3-year-old to step up against aged trotters. They are just so much stronger,” said Takter of the obstacles in front of Bar Hopping this Saturday. “But he drew inside and I think he can work out a trip. He did go faster in the Breeders Crown 3-year-old race than they did in the Aged Trot but it’s a different level.”

[MEADOWLANDS: Watch Live Video and Analysis for the TVG Finals at The Meadowlands Saturday.]

Bar Hopping landed post three in the TVG final, race 10 on the Meadowlands program. The field of eight includes division leader Resolve, a winner of the $1 million International Trot at Yonkers this year, but a surprising second to Flanagan Memory in the Breeders Crown just two weeks ago. Resolve landed post six with trainer Ake Svanstedt in the bike again.

Obrigado makes his first start since finishing off the board in the International Trot and drew post one for trainer Paul Kelley. Already a winner of $614,320 this year, Obrigado qualified in 1:54 3/5 at The Meadowlands this past Friday, in preparation for this contest.

With Wiggle It Jiggleit not entering, Always B Miki became a prohibitive favorite to end his racing career on a positive note. The multiple Breeders Crown champion drew post three in the sixth race of the evening, the $400,000 TVG final for open pacers. “He came out of the Breeders Crown looking great,” said Takter of the sport’s fastest career performer.

Takter appeared to relish the chance to face Wiggle It Jiggleit just one more time. “It would be good for the sport,” Takter said. “He’s an awfully tough horse and he raced very hard this year.”

Always B Miki will meet just six rivals in his final race and only Shamballa, a winner of the U.S. Pacing Championship here on Hambletonian Day, owns a victory over him this year. Shamballa, second in the record-setting 1:46 mile by Always B Miki at Lexington’s famed Red Mile in October, drew post seven with Scott Zeron in the bike.

David Miller will once again drive Always B Miki as the 5-year-old son of Always A Virgin seeks his 30th career victory in the TVG finale.

Takter of course has marveled at the return and the incredible ability Always B Miki has shown since he arrived in his stable some two years ago. “I’ve never had a horse like this and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a horse like this,” said Takter. “I mean this horse was walking on three legs twice and has come back from that. It’s unbelievable.”

Takter will also say goodbye to Shake It Cerry, the marvelous daughter of Donato Hanover that has been in his racing stable for the past four years. While Shake It Cerry has only won once in 17 trips to post this year, Takter has plenty of respect for his trotting mare.

“You know, she raced very hard at the top level as a 2 and 3-year-old,” said Takter. “Last year she had a good year and I think this year it’s not been the same.”

Shake It Cerry landed the pole position in the $200,000 TVG Mare trotting event, race four on the card, and will have regular driver David Miller in the sulky.

“I think the draw is really good and I was very happy with her race in the Breeders Crown. I actually thought for a moment she was going to win that race,” Takter said.

Shake It Cerry in fact finished third in the Crown behind two mares she’ll have to tackle once again on Saturday. Hannelore Hanover, with 16 wins in 19 starts this year, is the likely favorite from post two after her impressive Breeders Crown victory two weeks ago. Yannick Gingras will guide Hannelore Hanover for trainer Ron Burke.

Bee A Magician, second in the Breeders Crown, will start from post seven with Brian Sears in the bike. The $4 million winning Bee A Magician has won four of five starts during an abbreviated campaign cut short by injury.

Saturday’s Meadowlands 12-race program begins at 7:15 p.m. and will also feature a $200,000 TVG final for pacing mares that includes Crown champion Lady Shadow.