Hightstown, NJ — As soon-to-be-retired trainer Jimmy Takter prepares for his final Breeders Crown appearance Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono, he is focused on his horses in the hopes of adding to his astounding accomplishments in the series, which in recent years has become his playground.
“I enjoy big races,” said the 58-year-old Takter, who has won at least three Breeders Crown trophies in each of the past six years and at least one in each of the past eight. “It’s a challenge to me. This week is very important. We have to come up with some good ideas, look at where we are and make sure no stone is unturned.”
Takter has 14 horses in the Breeders Crown finals. All 12 championships, with $6.4 million in total purses, will be raced Saturday at Pocono. Post time is 5:30 p.m. (EDT) for the first race.
“Those horses are my focus this week,” Takter said. “I want them as good as they can be. Whatever that brings, it brings. Hopefully I have a little luck and can win one of them. That would be sweet to do.”
Takter’s 33 Breeders Crown wins lead second-place Bob McIntosh by 17 and third-place Ron Burke and Chuck Sylvester by 20. Takter won his first Breeders Crown in 1993 with 2-year-old filly trotter Gleam and his champions include three horses that were named Horse of the Year — Malabar Man, Moni Maker, and Always B Miki.
In 2015, on a night Takter calls his Breeders Crown career highlight, he won a record six finals and more than $2 million in purses at Woodbine Racetrack.
“It felt like I robbed a bank,” Takter said with a laugh. “I won half the card and felt like I could have won two more. I think that’s one record that’s unbeatable.”
Takter’s Breeders Crown finalists this year include past champions Ariana G (Mare Trot), Manchego (3-year-old filly trot), Pinkman (Open Trot), and Pure Country (Mare Pace) as well as elimination winner Tactical Landing (3-year-old male trot) and a group of stakes-winners such as Lazarus N (Open Pace), The Ice Dutchess (2-year-old filly trot), Thinkbig Dreambig, and Grand Teton (both 3-year-old male pace).
“We have a bunch of nice horses, but it’s not that easy,” said Takter, who has been named Trainer of the Year a record six times and was inducted into the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. “Things have to work your way. It’s tough to keep these horses sharp. It is such a fine line between winning and losing. It really is. But we have a bunch of horses in the final. Tactical Landing, the way he looked, I’m optimistic about him.
“You train quality horses over the years like I do, it adds up. I’ve been lucky too, getting these horses right at the right moments. Hopefully I can do it again this year, the last Breeders Crown.”
For Saturday’s complete card, click here.