Takter’s trek for a third NA Cup title

Takter’s trek for a third NA Cup title

MILTON, June 14, 2023 – Nancy Takter always finds a way to rise to the Cup challenge.

The multiple stakes winning trainer with nearly 650 career victories has fashioned a perfect two-for-two record in the Pepsi North America Cup, having saddled Captain Crunch and Tall Dark Stranger to victory in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

On Saturday night, in the 40th edition of the $1 million classic for three-year-old pacers, Takter will have two chances at notching her third Cup crown when Christchurch and Save America go postward under the Woodbine Mohawk Park lights.

The road to the final, just like her other two appearances, wasn’t a straight line.

“This year with four eliminations and having to finish second to guarantee your spot, that’s quite an accomplishment for anyone looking to get a horse to the final,” said Takter, whose stable has surpassed $4 million in earnings in each of the last four seasons. “There are a lot of very good horses who didn’t make the final, so it’s definitely a great accomplishment by our team to get to this race.”

Christchurch near and dear to Takter’s heart ​

A son of Always B Miki-Darlinonthebeach, Christchurch rolls into the final in winning form.

In the first Cup elimination, there was drama right after the start when 1-2 Voukefalas took some awkward steps around the first turn before settling back into stride. Moment Is Here assumed command through an opening panel in :27.1 before Ervin Hanover struck front and took his seven rivals through a half in :55.0, as Dexter Dunn, in rein to Christchurch, sat a patient third. Rounding the turn for home, Christchurch blasted by his foes in early stretch to take the lead. Voukefalas, with Jordan Stratton in the bike, came calling with a powerful late brush, but had to settle for second, a head back.

The final time was 1:48.4. ​

Owned by Diamond Creek Racing, Farhi Standardbreds Corp, and Spreydon Racing, he is now 4-1-0 from nine starts, along with $52,275 in purse earnings.

“He came first-up in that third quarter and that’s a far way to go first-up, to clear and keep going at Mohawk,” started Takter. “They were moving pretty quick at that point, so he went really fast. I was really impressed with how much handier he’s been. I made some equipment changes on him going into the elimination and they seemed to be the right ones. I’m really happy with how he’s entering the final.”

It was an even sweeter score considering Takter trained his mother, $1.1 million earner Darlinonthebeach.

“She was my second really good horse after JK She’salady. She came very early on in my career and I had a lot of success with her. I actually took care of her myself throughout most of her racing career, so she is definitely a very special horse to me. To have her first foal and have him in the NA Cup final is an awesome feeling. I actually watched him foal on their foal cam, so he’s always had a special place in my heart. Last year, we just took our time with him, taught him how to race a little bit. He has a great set of lungs, a great gait, so he has all the tools to be great.”

Bred by White Birch Farm, Christchurch, named after the city on the South Island of New Zealand, which is also the hometown of Dexter Dunn, paid $9.50 for the win.

A win by Christchurch would be an emotional triumph for Takter and others.

“It’s kind of interesting with this horse because Steve Williams, who was the farm manager for White Birch Farm when I trained ‘Darlin,’ my dad had Always B Miki then. He always said that we were going to breed Darlinonthebeach to Always B Miki and have some great babies with these two. She had a mark of 1:48.1 and Always B Miki had his 1:46 mark. I actually have a photo of these two jogging beside one another when they were both racing. Steve loved this picture and always had it on his Facebook page. Unfortunately, Steve passed away, so he didn’t get to see Christchurch, but it’s part of his legacy, and hopefully it works out well on Saturday.”

Save America ready for the big dance

A $300,000 yearling purchase, Save America went 4-2-1 in 11 freshman starts with $440,000 in earnings and a mark of 1:49.4 — which he recorded twice, including his 2022 Metro Pace elimination.

Other victories for the son of Captaintreacherous-My Lady Day came in a leg of the Kindergarten and divisions of the Nassagaweya and Champlain.

“The first couple of starts at Mohawk he was a little bumpy at times,” said Gingras, after the Metro elimination win. “Last week, he was too aggressive on top of that, tonight I got the horse back that I really liked in the spring baby races. He was a gentleman to drive, two finger, I did whatever I wanted with him with no steps.

“He was loaded with pace tonight, he only won by a length, but I never really called on him, didn’t kick the plugs. It was a crazy good mile, especially off a half in :56 and I was sitting at least five lengths back. He was the colt I thought I had at the beginning of the year. I loved him.”

That love affair has continued for Gingras and co.

Owned by 3 Brothers Stables and Caviart Farms, Save America brings a 5-3-1 mark from 14 career dashes into his NA Cup date.

A half-brother to $1 million earner and Metro Pace winner Stag Party, Save America finished second to Its My Show in the third Cup elimination on June 10.

“I thought he raced exceptionally well,” praised Takter. “Yannick [driver, Gingras] decided to stay in on the backside, which is a risky move on his part, hoping you’re going to find room in the stretch. He had to pull him almost sideways, but he still came home in :26.1, which I think was the fastest finish of any of the horses in the eliminations. He raced really big. He won in 1:48.1 on the front at Chester this year, so it was great to see him win from off the pace, a huge effort. He’s very versatile.”

It’s one more reason why Takter is grateful to get her third shot at NA Cup glory.

“These are the races you want to be in, the ones you want to say you won.”

Getting to them, however, most always includes a few restless nights along the way. ​

“There are so many things that go wrong leading up to these big races and not just the obvious things. Freak injuries, whether they are out in the field, and something spooks them, or they run into a fence, or being on a truck and getting caught in a partition… there are so many things that can go wrong. You can’t bubble-wrap these horses, they need to have their freedom too.”

They also need a trainer who knows a thing or two about coming up big on Cup night. ​

Chris Lomon, Woodbine Communications / @WoodbineComms

Grace Martin
Grace Martin Communications Specialist, Woodbine Entertainment
Horse Racing - SB
About Woodbine Entertainment

Woodbine Entertainment is the largest horse racing operator in Canada, with Thoroughbred horse racing at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, and Standardbred horse racing at Woodbine Mohawk Park in Milton. Woodbine Entertaiment also owns and operates HPIbet, Canada’s only betting platform dedicated to horse racing. Woodbine and Mohawk Park are host to several world-class racing events including The King’s Plate, three Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series races, and the Pepsi North America Cup. Run without share capital, Woodbine Entertainment has a mandate to financially invest all profit back into the horse racing industry and the 25,000 jobs it supports across Ontario.   

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