AN INTRIGUING STANDARDBRED-TO-THOROUGHBRED RACING TRANSITION

Two of the most renowned racehorse trainers of all time are Bob Baffert and Wayne Lukas.  Both started out running Quarter Horses and then transitioned to Thoroughbreds, where each had immediate and lasting success.  Now an eminent name from Standardbred racing is aiming to make his mark in Thoroughbred racing.

According to Bill Finley in Harness Racing Update, retired Standardbred Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter has partnered with Philip Antonacci to purchase and race Thoroughbreds.  Antonacci already owns some Thoroughbreds, trained by Wesley Ward, but the Antonacci/Takter venture will be a separate operation, beginning with 15 horses stabled at Payson Park in Florida, with Antonacci as the trainer of record.

The Swedish-born Takter had an amazing record of accomplishment.  When he retired in 2018 at age 58, he had trained the winners of four Hambletonians, six Hambletonian Oaks, and 34 Breeders Crowns.

Antonacci was a student in the prestigious Godolphin Flying Start program.  His program bio reads:

“Philip Antonacci comes from Somersville, Connecticut and graduated in 2017 from the University of Pennsylvania, with a BA in History. Before commencing the Godolphin Flying Start program he worked as an intern with Gai Waterhouse Racing and with Lindy Farms as a sales intern. Philip completed his USA phase externship with Todd Pletcher and his Australian phase externship with Boomer Bloodstock.

On completing the Godolphin Flying Start in 2019, Antonacci was hired by Dave Reid at Preferred Equine to fill the role of Director of Sales for its Thoroughbred division.”

It will be interesting, to say the least, to see how the skill set of one of the very best Standardbred trainers of all time transfers to flat racing. Seemingly, the path of Baffert and Lukas was easier, in that Quarter Horse racing is a form of flat racing with jockeys aboard, and Takter will have a much steeper learning curve in terms of bloodlines, conformation, and training methods. Then too, Antonacci is an unknown quantity as a Thoroughbred trainer.

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