Concert @ MetLife Stadium 5/17 & 5/18. Please allow for extra travel time.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

Trainer Nancy Takter had some serious expectations for her 3-year-old colt Christchurch at The Meadowlands Friday night, and in the aftermath of his performance in the non-winners of two, he marked himself as a big-time player in the July 15 Meadowlands Pace.

“If that horse keeps his mind right,” said Takter Thursday morning. “There isn’t a single (3-year-old) in the country who can beat him.”

And the son of Always B Miki-Darlinonthebeach made his trainer look good.

Christchurch put on an awesome display of power in his first start of the year after a pair of eye-popping qualifiers, drubbing five overmatched foes in 1:49.3, the second fastest mile of 2023 put up by a 3-year-old male pacer.

“He’s a big, strong horse,” said Takter after the win. “I knew he had it in him, it’s just going to be about managing him and getting him more controllable.”

On Friday night, he looked like a horse who was in control every step of the way.

Driver Dexter Dunn had Christchurch away quickly at the start and was on the lead around the first turn before hitting the quarter in :27.1. Caviart Scotland, Takter’s other starter in the race, couldn’t find a spot and had to go after the leader to the half, grabbing the lead at the midpoint in a taxing :54.2.

Looking stubborn and unwilling to sit a two-hole trip, Christchurch was up and after the leader shortly thereafter and sprinted back to the top while opening up a 2¼-length edge at three-quarters in 1:22.2. From there, Christchurch strode to the wire a much-the-best winner after displaying a final quarter of :27.1 to hit the finish 2¼ lengths in front of Dupree Hanover. Hungry Angel Boy was third.

“He’s got all the tools in the world to be something special,” said Takter. “He’s got the gait and has a great set of lungs and his heart rate is probably the lowest of any horse I’ve ever trained. If we can just get him to relax a little bit, I think he’s going to be really good. We’re pointing him to the (June 17) North America Cup so we’re going to try and find one more race before then and then it’s off to Canada. I think as the year goes on, he’ll probably settle down a little bit and find himself and, hopefully, he will shine.”

As the 3-5 favorite, Christchurch, who’s won three-of-eight lifetime starts, returned $3.40 to his backers.

A LITTLE MORE: After three straight second-place finishes, Jody got up on the wire to take the $17,000 overnight feature for pacing mares in 1:51.1. Driven by Yannick Gingras and trained by Ron Burke, the 5-year-old daughter of Betterthancheddar-Topgun Lady returned $4.40 as the 6-5 public choice. … Scott Zeron led the driver colony with three winners. … All-source handle on the 13-race card was $2,746,857. … Racing resumes Saturday at 6:20 p.m. The feature is the $155,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for free for all trotters.

PHOTO: Christchurch wins his first start of 2023 in grand fashion, stopping the clock in 1:49.3 with Dexter Dunn in the sulky. (Credit: Lisa Photo)