Click here to watch a video replay of the Hambletonian Oaks.
East Rutherford, NJ — Trainer Nancy Takter continued something of a family tradition Saturday (Aug. 8), winning the $600,000 Hambletonian Oaks for 3-year-old trotting fillies with Sorella at The Meadowlands.
Takter, whose father Jimmy won a record eight editions of the Oaks, became the first female trainer to ever win the race, which began in 1971.
Sorella and driver Yannick Gingras rolled to the front in the first turn and cruised to victory by 1-3/4 lengths over Hypnotic AM in 1:51. Panem, also trained by Takter, finished third. Hypnotic AM and Panem both started from the second tier, with Hypnotic AM in post 12 and Panem in post 11.
It is the sixth time in seven years the Oaks was won by a Takter and Gingras, who extended his record for wins by a driver to six.
“It certainly doesn’t get old,” Gingras said. “With any of these big races, you win them once and you want to win them again. I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment to have six of them. Definitely I’m proud of it.”
Gingras and Sorella started from post seven and saw Whose Blues leave for the front from post six. Whose Blues settled in the top spot, but only briefly, as Gingras pushed forward to claim the lead in a :26.1 opening quarter. From there, Sorella hit the half in :54.3 and three-quarters in 1:22.3.
“I thought there were three horses in the race that really stood out and the other two had posts 11 and 12,” Gingras said. “When I left the gate, I saw they were going to get away somewhere in mid-pack. They weren’t going to get away too close, so I was taking no prisoners from there. I figured she was the one to beat at that point and took no chances.”
Said Takter, “I thought my horses both raced super. I wish Panem would have gotten up a little bit more, but they were both really good. It kind of worked out the way I expected, so that’s good when things go that way.”
She added that Sorella’s next start would most likely come in the Zweig Memorial on Aug. 21 at Vernon Downs.
Sorella, a daughter of Muscle Hill out of Kadealia, has won four of five races this year and six of 14 lifetime with earnings of $503,376. She is owned by breeder Elmer Fannin, Crawford Farms Racing and Brent Fannin. Elmer Fannin named the filly after a bottle of wine.
“We’re very excited about Sorella,” said Brent Fannin, Elmer’s son. “We knew one day (Kadealia) was going to throw a good one, and we just kept being patient and bred her to one of the better sires we could. And along comes Sorella and we’re real excited. We lost her mom earlier this year, who was in foal to Father Patrick, and hopefully Sorella can carry the torch from here.”
— Derick Giwner contributed to this story