Father Patrick, the 2013 Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter, makes his debut at age 3 in Wednesday's (May 21) second division of the Historic-Dickerson Cup at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
The 8-5 morning line favorite, Father Patrick will have regular driver Yannick Gingras in the sulky for trainer Jimmy Takter. Father Patrick, who finished last season with a nine-race win streak and captured 10 of 11 starts overall, trotted a world-record 1:52.1 mile at Pocono Downs in October.
Father Patrick, who starts Wednesday from post three in a six-horse field, prepped for his first race by competing in two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the second in 1:53.
"He's good,” Takter said. "He's coming into this race perfect. I'm really, really happy with how he looks. He's good mentally and physically. He just looks really good. I think the only thing (that can stop him) is himself in that race. It's a good start from him.”
Father Patrick ended last season by winning the $500,000 Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs. Afterward, Takter called the colt "the horse I've been waiting for.”
In addition to his world-record effort in his Breeders Crown elimination at Pocono Downs last year, Father Patrick won his division of the Champlain Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack in a Canadian-record 1:54. Two weeks later, he lowered the mark when he won the $354,050 William Wellwood Memorial in 1:53.4.
He also won the $280,500 Peter Haughton Memorial at the Meadowlands -- by 10 lengths -- finishing in 1:54.1 over a track labeled "good” and missing the stakes record by one-fifth of a second.
"Hopefully he can step up and be an outstanding horse,” Takter said. "He really doesn't have to improve too much; he's trotting (1):52 speed. He's maturing, so he will be a stronger horse. Nature shapes them from 2 to 3. He doesn't have to improve much more than how nature improves him.”
Father Patrick is a son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream. His full brother, Pastor Stephen, was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter in 2010 and won 10 of 22 lifetime races, earning $1.04 million, before seeing his career cut short by injury at age 3.
The colt is not the only standout 3-year-old trotter in Takter's stable. Nuncio, who finished second to Father Patrick four times last season, started his 2014 campaign with a win in a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes division at Harrah's Philadelphia on May 15.
Lightly raced Trixton has opened eyes this season with two wins in three starts, including a 10-3/4 length triumph in 1:51.2 to win the Simpson Memorial on May 9 at the Meadowlands.
Takter will keep the three away from each other for as long as possible on the road to August's Hambletonian Stakes.
"You've got to,” Takter said. "Nuncio and Patrick are Pennsylvania-bred and I only have the two of them and most likely there will be two divisions (of sire stakes) wherever they go so they don't have to face each other. The first time they're going to meet is in the Earl Beal (Memorial at Pocono Downs on June 28).
"Trixton isn't staked to the Beal because he's not ready for the shorter tracks yet. He'll go to Canada for the Goodtimes up there (on June 14). That will be after the New Jersey Sire Stakes. He'll get a couple weeks off and then the Stanley Dancer is coming up for all of them.”
Joining Father Patrick in the second division of the Dickerson Cup are Marathon Man, Amped Up Hanover, Explosive Cash, Master Bedroom, and Shift Into Glide.
The first division is Lighter Hanover, Dony Andreas, Mac Kemp, It Really Matters, and Auspicious Hanover.--By Ken Weingartner/Harness Racing Communications