In what some observers predict could be a dress rehearsal for the August 2 Hambletonian, the Takter Stable starters finished in a fanned-out constellation of three horses across the track, with 2-5 favorite Father Patrick first to the wire in 1:51.3 in the $317,000 Stanley Dancer Memorial for 3-year-old trotting colts Saturday night (July 13) at Meadowlands Racetrack.
The field was led off the gate by Nuncio and John Campbell, but were soon overtaken by Father Patrick (Yannick Gingras), who hit the quarter mile mark in 27.2 and led the field to the 56 half. Muscle Network (Ake Svanstedt) was on the move on the outside, making progress toward the lead before making a break at the top of the stretch. Father Patrick was well within himself at the 1:24.3 three quarters, with Nuncio inching closer to the leader and Trixton, driven by trainer Jimmy Takter, advancing on those two, but unable to get past.
As the field hit the finish line, Father Patrick was three quarters of a length in front, with Nuncio two lengths in front of Trixton. Don Dorado (Tim Tetrick) was the fourth-place finisher and Skates N Plates fifth.
Father Patrick, by Cantab Hall-Gala Dream, is owned by the Father Patrick Stable of East Windsor, N.J. The top three finishers were all trained by Takter.
"He's probably a little bit better following horses,” said Gingras. "But my horse, with the nine hole in a 12-horse field, the last thing I wanted to do is get caught behind traffic. I knew Nuncio got on my back and I saw Jiimmy (driving Trixton) getting a good trip second-over. There was no excuse for anybody. If you want to go a half in (1:02), he'll go, if you want to go in 55, he'll go. He's a perfect horse. I've been dreaming about it (winning the Hambletonian) since Aug. 3 last year. It's definitely a dream of mine, and hopefully, we can get it done.”
With 13 or fewer entries, there will be no Hambletonian preliminary heat; the field will go in one dash for the total purse.
"This was basically the Hambletonian,” Takter said. "I mean, who is coming? It's going to be a couple less horses. I mean, who is going to put up $15,000 and race after this race?” (Harness Racing Communications)