Trainer Charlynn Taketa remembered by her fellow Horsemen
Charlynn Taketa came back to training racehorses at Portland Meadows this past fall, and what turned out to be her final year at the track, certainly proved to be a memorable one. Since her passing after a freak accident outside her Portland Meadows barn on Thursday August 11th, Taketa has been remembered by many of her fellow horseman, friends, members of the local community and her husband Jerry Taketa.
Charlynn Taketa was born Charlynn Oaks on June 28, 1949 in Walla Walla, Washington and was around horses her entire life.
“She grew up 4-H,” said Taketa’s husband Jerry. “She did jumping and dressage and was always around horses.”
Charlynn started in Thoroughbred racing in the early 70’s and in 1972 won her first race at Playfair Race Course in Spokane, Washington. She saddled a horse named Piute Pass with a young rider named Jerry Taketa on board. They won that race together and Piute Pass came back just a couple of weeks later with Taketa on board and won again. Charlynn and Jerry’s paths would cross again a decade later. Jerry had been riding in Alberta and in 1982 he decided to move back to the States.
“I came back in 1982 and we started dating,” said Taketa. “We were together for the next seven years, before we finally got married in 1989.”
Charlynn continued to train horses until Longacres closed down in 1992. She was always involved with art and she and Jerry went into the framing business after her retirement from training. Jerry always stayed at the track, continuing to ride and eventually going into his current profession, as a jockey’s agent. All through the years the Taketa’s stayed somewhat involved in racing, even if it was just taking in a day at the races.
“I’ve been friends with Jerry for 40 years,” said Mike Robbins, who mans Mike’s Paddock Bar at Portland Meadows. “They were so friendly together, she was somewhat quiet, but always smiling. She always ordered Diet Coke,” Robbins laughed, “They are just really nice people.”
In September 2010, Charlynn decided she wanted to get back into training, so her and Jerry trekked up to Emerald Downs and spoke to Kay Cooper, who assists her father, Washington Hall of Famer Jim Penney. After looking at a couple horses they had for sale, Charlynn decided to buy a horse named Caballito De Mar. They brought Caballito De Mar down to Portland Meadows and went partners with a local owner and friend of theirs, Harry Kravas. Caballito De Mar was given his name, which is Spanish for Sea Horse, because the marking on his face looks just like a Sea Horse.
Charlynn trained Caballito De Mar up to his first start, a $5,000 mile claiming race on October 20, 2010.
“She was so excited that day,” said Kravas.
Caballito De Mar stayed just off the pace early on underneath jockey Jose Zunino, and as the field turned for home, Caballito De Mar started to open up at will. He poured it on and eventually scored by a massive ten and three quarter lengths! The win was Taketa’s first as a trainer in over 17 years.
“That day we won, in the Winner’s Circle she was very emotional,” said Kravas. “She was crying and we hugged, it was a very special moment for both of us.”
Caballito De Mar won once more this past season, and hit the board an additional three times during the 2010-11 meeting. Kravas indicated that even though Charlynn has passed away, he plans on continuing to run Caballito De Mar this season, in her honor.
“I found her to be one of the finest conditioners I’ve worked with,” said Kravas. “Caballito De Mar will continue to run in her honor, because she absolutely loved that horse.”
Charlynn Taketa will be missed by many in the local racing community. On a trip to the backstretch recently, I spoke with a number of horsemen who had nothing but kind words to say.
“She was a high quality person and horse lover,” said fellow trainer Roger Stevenson.
“She was such a nice lady,” said Assistant Trainer Gloyd Whitmire. “We were barn neighbors, she loved her horses, and it was great to see her get back into the game again this year.”
“Her and Jerry were really two peas in a pod,” said trainer Debbie Fergason. “We just got to know her this year, of course everyone around here has known Jerry forever.”
Jerry Taketa also spoke so eloquently about his wife and shared some of her passions outside of racing.
“She was very much an art person,” Said Taketa. “She loved art, she judged art events, judged horse shows and she loved to collect little horse figurines. She also did a lot of charity work here in Vancouver and Clark County, that is some of the work I think she was most proud of.”
A Memorial Service for Charlynn Taketa will take place on Tuesday August 23rd at Evergreen Memorial Gardens Cemetary in Vancouver, Washington at 12:30pm. Evergreen Memorial is located at 1101 NE 112th Avenue, Vancouver, Washington 98684.