August started on a high note for trainer Jimmy Takter as he scored big victories at the Meadowlands in the Hambletonian with Trixton and the Oaks with Lifetime Pursuit. But as the month continued Takter found himself battling sickness in his barn, which affected several horses including Father Patrick, who made an early break in the Hambletonian and then suffered a stinging defeat next time out in the Tompkins-Geers.
On the good side, Trixton made his first appearance on the track Thursday morning since winning the trotting classic on Aug. 2 at the Meadowlands, scoring a resounding 14-length victory in 1:52.4 in a qualifier at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
"He was very good; he was awesome,” trainer-driver Takter told harnessracing.com by cell phone as he was leaving Pocono to head to Harrah's Philadelphia for the afternoon race card. "I was able to sit third until down the backside when I moved him and he came home in :27 and a piece.”
Takter said Trixton's next start will come in the Simcoe on Aug. 30 at Mohawk Racetrack, the final prep before the Canadian Trotting Classic eliminations on Sept. 6.
On the flip side, Takter was hoping Father Patrick would rebound from his loss in the Hambletonian as the odds-on favorite—which ended a 15-race win streak—in the Tompkins-Geers Aug. 17 at Tioga Downs. Instead, Father Patrick could not hold onto the lead down the stretch and was passed by the 25-1 longshot Datsyuk, who won by a half length in 1:53.1.
"He scoped terrible after,” Takter said of Father Patrick. "He scoped a lot of crap and you cannot have a horse like that. They have to be close to 100 percent. Assuming he is about five lengths better than Datsyuk, and when you see him lose, that's the way it is. But it's good it happened that race because it gave me time to pick him back up.
"It's been a mess (with the barn sickness). But to be honest, I think they are all bouncing back really good.”
Takter said because he was able to ascertain which horse came up sick first, he was able to keep the illness from spreading more than it did.
"If it's around, it's around, but I got the host, the horse that got it first, and he was really sick,” he said. "So we got him away from the others. Horses travel a lot and the trucks go all over, and they can catch a bug.”
Takter said Father Patrick is regaining his health, and he has the colt targeted for the Zweig Memorial on Friday, Aug. 29, at Vernon Downs.
"Patrick will race in the Zweig a week from Friday. I should have him cleared up by then,” said Takter. "He's been in the oxygen chamber to try and get him better. I'd rather have a bacterial virus than have a virus that the blood is messed up. This is something you can deal with.”—by Gordon Waterstone