The hotly anticipated match-up between Father Patrick and Trixton will take place this Saturday night at the Meadowlands in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial. The Grand Circuit stake for sophomore trotting colts is a highlight of the dazzling Meadowlands Pace all-star undercard. A field of 12 were named into the race, including this marquee match-up of Jimmy Takter trainees who are currently at the top of everyone's Hambletonian list and will meet competitively for the very first time.
Hall of Fame horseman Takter has trained many champions and won the Hambletonian twice but never has he possessed an embarrassment of riches such as this. When you include the accomplished Nuncio who was moved to the stable after his 2-year-old season and leaves from post seven in the Dancer, Takter comes into the "Hambletonian homestretch” with a true triple threat.
Bought from the Hunterton Farms consignment by the partnership of Brixton Medical AB and Christina Takter for $360,000, Trixton was the highest-priced yearling colt sold in 2012. Big, dark and bred to trot, the colt is truly a striking individual. His pedigree reeks of Hambo success, from the first crop of 2009 Hambletonian winner Muscle Hill out of Emilie Cas El, she a daughter of Hall of Fame matron Amour Angus, one of trotting's great lines.
While he customarily employs the top catch-drivers, Takter has been the primary driver for Trixton throughout his career citing the need for stability in the sulky. The colt was raced carefully last season, winning half of his eight starts and flashing brilliance while exhibiting immaturity at times. An injury coming out of the Kindergarten final last fall ended his season and the time away from the track allowed Trixton to grow into the horse Takter thought he could be.
He got a pair of showy qualifiers and a useful overnight under his belt to begin the 2014 season then drew immediate notice dominating the Simpson Memorial field in a withering 1:51.2 with ridiculous ease. He then seared through the New Jersey Sires Stakes in record time before lowering the Canadian record to 1:51.3 in the Goodtimes. Each of his wins has been accomplished with the greatest of ease, the smallest margin being over four lengths. Their assignment this week, however, has been complicated by drawing post position 12, in the second tier.
Never one to shy away from praising the good ones, Takter has been fairly reserved when discussing Trixton, although the "G” word (great) did slip out after his Goodtimes romp when he observed that "…great horses overcome anything.”
While Trixton took some time to find his game, Father Patrick has been virtually flawless from the start. He's a product of classic Brittany Farms breeding, a mating of Cantab Hall and Gala Dream. He is the second millionaire from his dam, being a full brother to Pastor Stephen, the maternal family boasting champions like Sugar Trader and Chocolatier.
Father Patrick is a different type of trotter, propelled by a very efficient gait with no wasted motion in his strides straight and true. His tractability is one of his great advantages, negotiating through the course at high speed like a fine sports car.
After annexing every major stake and the Dan Patch divisional award in 2013, Father Patrick has returned at age three to win each of his five starts this year with minimal effort. His most recent conquest was the Earl Beal Memorial at Pocono in world record time of 1:50.2f under his own power, the pull-out earplugs never drawn.
Career-wise Father Patrick has now won 15 of 16 starts and in excess of $1 million for the ownership group of the Father Patrick Stable who paid $105,000 for him as a yearling. Diamond Creek Farm joined the partnership last fall with the intention of standing him at the conclusion of his racing career.
His driver throughout has been Yannick Gingras, who was nothing short of ebullient in his praise of the colt when interviewed after the Beal, "He's a dream come true," said Gingras. "When I came to race in the U.S that's what I wanted. When I made the move to the Meadowlands, I made it to drive great horses and he's definitely the most talented horse I've driven."
Takter has been consistent in his praise for Father Patrick, declaring him the "best horse I have trained" on a few few occasions and then expounding in his own post Beal declaration. "This horse, he trotted here a (1):50.2 world record. I know this track is fantastic, but Yannick never even asked him -- he had the (ear) plugs left in him. He was sitting on a good second anyways. He is just a 3 year old. We saw the fastest trotter today in (1):49 here and this is just a 3 year old. This is a heck of a performance."
Considered a master horseman by his peers, to achieve the success Takter has earned throughout his decorated career the drive must be extreme, the will iron. In his heart of hearts, driving a horse that he has developed and trained to a win in the Hambletonian would surely hold great allure.
Saturday's race may shed considerable light on just who will be the favorite for the Aug. 2 Hambletonian. (Meadowlands)