Day At The Track

Ariana G looks to extend Takter's Zweig win streak

08:59 AM 17 Aug 2017 NZST
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Ariana G
Ariana G
Mark Hall Photo

Earlier this month, filly Ariana G gave harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter his fourth consecutive win in the Hambletonian Oaks. On Friday, she will take on eight male rivals and try to provide Takter with a fourth straight victory in the open division of the Zweig Memorial at Vernon Downs.

Ariana G is the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the $320,000 Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial for 3-year-old trotters at Vernon. She will start from post five with driver Yannick Gingras as she attempts to become the first female since Moni Maker in 1996 to win an open division of the event.

Takter's three most recent winners in the open division of the Zweig were colt Bar Hopping in 2016, gelding Pinkman in 2015 and colt Father Patrick in 2014.

For her career, Ariana G has won 15 of 18 races and earned $1.2 million for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, who also bred the filly. Her connections could have raced Ariana G in the Zweig's filly division, but opted for the open in part because of the difference in the purses. The filly race goes for $135,000.

Ariana G's connections faced a similar decision earlier this month when they entered the filly in the Hambletonian Oaks, which is restricted to female competition, rather than the Hambletonian, which is open to all 3-year-old trotters. The Hambletonian, though, contests its eliminations and final on the same day, unlike the Oaks which holds eliminations a week prior to the final.

"I think it is a good time to give it a try," Takter said about entering the Zweig's open division. "It's almost three times the purse and I think she's very compatible with these boys. And it's one race. The reason we didn't go into the Hambletonian was because it was two heats.

"(In the Zweig) I think she is probably going to go off as the post time favorite. I think she is as good as them. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think so."

Ariana G, who received the 2016 Dan Patch Award for best 2-year-old female trotter, beat male rivals in an elimination of the Earl Beal Jr. Memorial and finished third from post eight in the final on July 1 for her only setback in seven starts this season.

She is the fastest 3-year-old female trotter this year, with a best win time of 1:51.1, and second-fastest 3-year-old trotter overall. Walner, a colt sidelined by injury, holds the top spot with a time of 1:50.2.

Ariana G heads to the Zweig off her win by 4-3/4 lengths in the Hambletonian Oaks on Aug. 5 at the Meadowlands. Her winning time, 1:51.2, was the second-fastest in the history of the race, which dates back to 1971.

"We've just done some light training with her (since the Hambletonian Oaks) but she's feeling very, very good," said Takter, who has won the Oaks a record seven times in his career. "I'm very happy with how she feels. She's got a good (starting) spot, right in the middle."

Ariana G's schedule following the Zweig is uncertain, but the filly is eligible to the Casual Breeze, Simcoe, and Elegantimage stakes at Ontario's Mohawk Racetrack in the upcoming weeks.

"We'll take it one race at a time," Takter said. "The Elegantimage is going to be the main target, that's the big one."

Looking at the Zweig field, Beal Memorial winner Devious Man is the 7-2 second choice behind Ariana G and the Beal's second-place finisher, Long Tom, is next at 9-2. Devious Man was third-placed-second in the Hambletonian.

In the Zweig filly division, Celebrity Ruth is the 5-2 morning-line favorite ahead of Feed Your Head (7-2) and Seventh Heaven (9-2).

Celebrity Ruth, owned by White Birch Farm, has won four of nine races this year and never finished worse than second while competing primarily in races restricted to New York-bred horses. She is trained by Trond Smedshammer and will have Jason Bartlett as her driver.

Following is the field for the $320,000 Zweig Memorial Open. It is the 10th race on Vernon's card Friday, with a 9:45 p.m. estimated post time.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line

1. International Moni-Scott Zeron-Frank Antonacci-8/1

2. Bill's Man-Corey Callahan-John Butenschoen-6/1

3. Yes Mickey-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-8/1

4. Money Macintosh-Jason Bartlett-Julie Miller-15/1

5. Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/2

6. Long Tom-Brett Miller-Marcus Melander-9/2

7. Devious Man-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-7/2

8. Another Chapter-Jim Morrill Jr.-Per Henriksen-12/1

9. Simply Volo-Jim Marohn Jr.-John Butenschoen-10/1

 

Following is the field for the $135,000 Zweig Memorial filly division. It is the ninth race on Vernon's card Friday, with a 9:25 p.m. estimated post time.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Line

1. Chapter Too-Corey Callahan-Mark Harder-12/1

2. Celebrity Ruth-Jason Bartlett-Trond Smedshammer-5/2

3. Evelyn-Andy Miller-Ake Svanstedt-8/1

4. Amber Ella-Jim Marohn Jr.-Linda Toscano-10/1

5. Feed Your Head-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-7/2

6. Glitzey Gal-Jim Morrill Jr.-R. Nifty Norman-8/1

7. Ice Attraction-Ake Svanstedt-Ake Svanstedt-6/1

8. Sunshine Delight-Brett Miller-Staffan Lind-15/1

9. Seventh Heaven-Scott Zeron-Linda Toscano-9/2

Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

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