Day At The Track

Shake It Cerry to make season debut

08:30 AM 22 Apr 2015 NZST
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Shake It Cerry and Helene Engblom
Shake It Cerry and Helene Engblom
Ken Weingartner Photo

Shake It Cerry, the 2014 Dan Patch Award Trotter of the Year, is ready to shake off the rust and begin a new harness racing campaign.

The 4-year-old female trotter, who closed out last season by winning her final nine races, will kick off this year in Friday's inaugural $51,100 Meadows Maturity for older female trotters at The Meadows Racetrack in western Pennsylvania. Shake It Cerry drew post No. 7 in the nine-horse field and is the 7-5 morning line favorite.

Meadows leading driver Dave Palone will sit behind Shake It Cerry for trainer Jimmy Takter.

Classic Martine, who received the 2014 Dan Patch Award for best older female trotter, drew post No. 9 and is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line. Dan Rawlings will drive for trainer Chris Oakes.

Shake It Cerry won 15 of 17 races last year and earned $1.23 million for the Solveig's Racing Partners ownership group. In addition to being named Trotter of the Year, she was voted harness racing's best 3-year-old female trotter. She also was the 2-year-old Dan Patch Award winner in 2013.

She prepped for Friday's Maturity with a 1:55 win in a qualifier on April 18 at the Meadowlands.

"It's her first start and she had a soft qualifier, but she felt great," said Takter, who drove the mare in her qualifier. "She felt super. I was very happy."

Shake It Cerry will try to become the first trotter since Moni Maker to win consecutive Trotter of the Year awards. Moni Maker, a mare who also was trained by Takter, captured three Trotter of the Year honors from 1998-2000. The only other horses in the last 45 years to earn back-to-back Trotter of the Year accolades were Pine Chip (1993-94) and Mack Lobell (1987-88).

Of course, it will not be an easy task. Shake It Cerry will see tough competition in the older female trotting division alone, with the likes of 2013 Horse of the Year winner Bee A Magician also in its ranks. The trotting mares as a group in 2014 posted eight of the 12 fastest times in their division's history, with Classic Martine responsible for three of the efforts and Bee A Magician one.

"It's no walk in the park there," Takter said. "By the same token, everybody knows (Shake It Cerry) is not just an average horse either. I'm sure she can go with them. Of course, sometimes those mares are a little tougher. They've been through a little bit more.

"But she's a fighter. I'm excited to see her race. I'm sure she's not going to be as dominant as when she was as a 3-year-old. We have to pick our spots, but she's going to win one or two of those big ones this year."

Last year, Shake It Cerry finished her season by winning the Breeders Crown in a stakes-record 1:52.2. She also won the Matron Stakes in a stakes- and track-record 1:52.4 over a "good" surface at Dover Downs, the American-National in a stakes-record 1:52.2 and equaled the stakes record of 1:52.1 in capturing the Elegantimage.

Shake It Cerry is named in honor of one of Takter's sisters. The horse's dam, Solveig, was named in honor of Takter's mother. The horse's sire is Donato Hanover, who was Horse of the Year at age 3 in 2007. Solveig was voted best 2-year-old female trotter in 2004.

Classic Martine won nine of 18 races last year and hit the board a total of 16 times to lead all older female trotters in purses with $438,912. Her victories included the Armbro Flight Stakes, Miss Versatility Series championship and the Ima Lula Series final in a then-world-record-equaling performance.

She is owned by Hauser Bros. Racing, Susan Oakes, Conrad Zurich, and Edwin Gold.

Here is the Meadows Maturity field in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line:

1. Sweetie Hearts, Tony Hall, Rich Gillock, 20-1

2. Cowgirl Hall, Eric Goodell, Ron Burke, 8-1

3. Anaffairtoremember, Mike Wilder, William Bercury, 10-1

4. Daylon Miracle, Aaron Merriman, William Bercury, 5-1

5. Rockin With Dewey, Eric Ledford, Benoit Baillargeon, 12-1

6. Handover Belle, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1

7. Shake It Cerry, Dave Palone, Jimmy Takter, 7-5

8. Whata Donato, Doug Snyder, Doug Snyder, 20-1

9. Classic Martine, Dan Rawlings, Chris Oakes, 4-1

by Ken Weingartner

Harness Racing Communications

USTA

 
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