Live coverage of Dan Patch
By Michael Guerin
Lazarus’s army of Kiwi fans will be able to watch his first US start next week, which is something his new trainer Jimmy Takter may not be able to do.
The champion pacer kicks off his North American career a lot sooner than anybody anticipated on Saturday week (NZ time) after a US$25,000 late payment was made for the now US$325,000 Dan Patch at Hoosier Park in Indiana.
The race is scheduled for early Saturday afternoon August 11 and wasn’t originally going to be covered by Trackside but with the TAB wanting to be fully supportive of the huge interest in Lazarus, it will now be broadcast live, most likely on Trackside 2.
Which means Kiwis will get to see a race that Takter himself is likely to miss.
The Hall of Fame trainer is going on his annual holiday next week because he, like everybody else, didn’t think Lazarus would be racing yet.
Takter has a huge hand to play in Hambletonian weekend at The Meadowlands this weekend and had already booked a week-long cruise after to get some rest and relaxation after one of the most stressful weeks of the US harness racing season.
“Back when I booked this trip, which I usually go on after Hambo weekend, I didn’t think Lazarus would be racing in the Dan Patch,” Takter told HRNZ. “So I won’t be going to Indiana. I will be on a cruise."
“But my stable foreman will travel with the horse and Yannick (Gingras) will definitely drive him.”
Takter says the trip to Indiana will involve a 10-hour transporter (horse float) ride for Lazarus.
Depending on how he performs in the Dan Patch, Lazarus’s next major target has been confirmed as the Canadian Pacing Derby, which has eliminations on August 25 and the final on September 1 (Sunday afternoon NZ time).
While Takter has been at the top of the trainer’s tree for too long to get carried away with Lazarus’s potential, he admits the expectations are growing.
“I don’t want to say how far he can go but after what I have seen the last two week and especially last Saturday I’d like to think he will be competitive with the best horses we have up here.
“His time (1:48.6) was good last week but the fact he could close (last quarter) in 25.3 showed to me he has what it takes to take on the top horses here."
“But what will be after that it hard to tell.”