Ariana G posted back-to-back Breeders Crown scores to the delight of her owners and breeders Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld.
by Chris Lomon
The connections of trotting megastar Ariana G have the enviable ability to choose from an expansive and impressive list of top-shelf triumphs, both on and off the racetrack, and deem any of them as her No. 1 career highlight. They now have a new entry for consideration after Friday’s Breeders Crown Three-Year-Old Filly Trot performance.
It’s hardly a new scene for those who know the ultra-consistent champion best: a trip to the winner’s circle on the big stage.
With regular reinsman Yannick Gingras in the sulky, Ariana G, trained by Jimmy Takter, added another memorable moment to her head-turning racing résumé after a thoroughly dominant five-and-a-quarter length Breeders Crown score in 1:54.3 over a sloppy Hoosier Park strip, for Al Libfeld, who bred and co-owns the daughter of Muscle Hill—Cantab It All, with his partner Marvin Katz.
Katz has 10 Breeders Crown wins and Libfeld nine.
“(Ariana G) really doesn’t like this kind of weather and wet track. It was very tiring and kind of crazy even up front. She had to work hard and she got a little tired at the end. She got leg tired,” Takter said.
It was a win made even sweeter considering the bay came into the race off a rare defeat, losing by a neck to Ice Attraction (second tonight) in the $168,000 Kentucky Filly Futurity final for 3-year-old trotting fillies on Oct. 8 at Red Mile.
Just as sweet? The only other time she had competed at Hoosier Park, Ariana G broke stride and finished 10th in last year’s Kentuckiana Stallion Management. It’s the only race – out of 26 career starts – in which she has finished lower than third.
Tonight, she was back to her typical self – tenacious, tough-as-nails and triumphant.
“I can’t even articulate this how remarkable this is,” said Katz. “I’m thrilled that Hoosier Park has put on the evening they have. It’s just a fabulous evening and I know tomorrow will be just as great. I’m thrilled that there is a new venue that has become part of the Breeders Crown. Of course, I’m a Hambletonian director and for all of our society, we are thrilled. This is a new venue and an expansion of the industry in a great way.”
Katz was equally complimentary of Takter.
“This isn’t a partnership, this is a friendship, which is even far more deep and meaningful to me and I hope to Jimmy as well,” Katz said. “We’ve known each other for years and he is a fantastic man. He’s at the pinnacle of this sport at which he deserves all the accolades he gets. People have to understand how difficult it is to do what he does and do it year in and year out. It’s not easy. This is a special, special man. And he deserves all the fame and accolades he gets.”
A Breeders Crown and Dan Patch Award winner last season, Ariana G is in the midst of a stellar season, having won 12 of her 15 starts. Her victories include setting a track and Canadian record in the $385,000 Elegantimage final at Mohawk on Sept. 16.
Ariana G, who has also taken the Hambletonian Oaks and Simcoe Stakes, is the second of five foals out of Cantab It All. Her older full-sister All The Time made just shy of $1 million.
After the Breeders Crown score, Ariana G, who paid $2.40 to win as the 1-5 favorite, is closing in on $2 million in career earnings, courtesy of 21 wins.
“I trained her mother and when you take these horses from the beginning and teach them everything they are supposed to do, that is a special moment for me,” said Takter. “We spend so much time with these horses. It’s just a fantastic feeling.”
There could be more big moments ahead for the trotting titan and her connections, including possible Horse of the Year honors.
“I hope so,” said Katz. “I don’t vote. This is an exceptionally great horse. They tried to beat her and they just can’t. She fantastic.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Libfeld.
“I don’t do the voting, but she’s my Horse of the Year,” he said. “Whether they vote her or someone else, you know, it won’t take any of the allure. She’s just really special and I just can’t wait. She’s outrageously special. She’s probably the best horse we’ve ever owned and we’ve owned some great horses.”