10/22/2014 5:29PM

Yonkers: Nuncio, Lyonssomewhere give Takter a chance at two $500K wins

Mark Hall/USTA
Nuncio has never been worse than second in 24 career starts.

A half-length loss in the Hambletonian Stakes prevents Nuncio from a chance at history, but the 3-year-old male trotter can add to his credentials with a win in Saturday’s $500,000 Yonkers Trot at Yonkers Raceway.

The Yonkers Trot is the third jewel in harness racing’s Trotting Triple Crown. Nuncio finished second to stablemate Trixton in the first leg, the Hambletonian, and defeated stablemate Father Patrick by 1-1/4 lengths in the second leg, the Kentucky Futurity.

Nuncio, trained by Jimmy Takter and driven by John Campbell, will start the eight-horse Yonkers Trot from post No. 2. The colt has won nine of 14 races this year, including his Yonkers Trot elimination last week, and earned $1.04 million for owner Stefan Melander’s Stall TZ Inc.

[DRF HARNESS: Five major stakes including the International Trot Preview - LIVE from Yonkers Raceway on DRF!]

The most recent horse to win the Trotting Triple Crown was Glidemaster in 2006. The last horse to capture two jewels and finish second in the remaining leg was Mack Lobell in 1987.

Takter has won the Yonkers Trot three times; Campbell has won twice.

“John was very pleased with him (last week),” Takter said about Nuncio, who brings a three-race win streak to Yonkers. “He was very strong in the stretch. He’s in great form. The horse is sharp.”

Nuncio has never finished worse than second in any of his 24 career starts, posting 14 victories while earning $1.50 million. Eight of Nuncio’s 10 lifetime second-place finishes have come behind Father Patrick, who leads all harness racing horses in purses this season with $1.38 million. Takter did not enter Father Patrick in the Yonkers Trot.

“That’s very difficult, especially racing in all the major stakes,” Takter said, referring to Nuncio finishing first or second in all his starts. “He’s got a fantastic resume. He’s a really hard worker.

“Father Patrick, he’s (Wayne) Gretzky or Michael Jordan. There’s no effort. Nuncio really has to work at it to be what he is. The other one, he’s just got it. But Nuncio has got a hell of an attitude; a great attitude.”

New York Sire Stakes champion Gural Hanover, who won the other Yonkers Trot elimination, starts from post No. 1 with Jim Morrill Jr. driving for trainer Ron Burke.

Saturday’s card at Yonkers also includes the $500,000 Messenger Stakes for 3-year-old pacers and the $250,000 International Trot Preview Invitational, along with the $150,854 Lady Maud for 3-year-old female pacers and $124,590 Hudson Trot for 3-year-old female trotters.

The Messenger is the third leg of the Pacing Triple Crown. Takter’s Lyonssomewhere won the first jewel, the Cane Pace, and starts the Messenger from post No. 3. Limelight Beach, who won the second leg of the Crown, the Little Brown Jug, did not enter the Messenger.

Lyonssomewhere went off stride while leading his elimination in the Little Brown Jug and failed to advance to the second heat.

“He could have won the Jug if he didn’t do whatever he did in the last turn,” Takter said. “It was like the biggest shock of the year. If he won his elimination, he would have had a hell of a shot at it. It’s the small details. You’ve got to click. That’s why it’s tough to win it.”

Luck Be Withyou, who won the Messenger elimination last week, starts from post five with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Chris Oakes. The field also includes multiple-stakes-winners McWicked and All Bets Off.

The last horse to win the Pacing Triple Crown was No Pan Intended in 2003.

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com