01/18/2017 9:39AM

Bergman: Father Patrick shouldn’t suffer from the third-crop blues

Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
Father Patrick earned more than $2.5 million during his career.

The third year for a stallion is often the most difficult for a breeding farm. In the first year there is always great optimism, as broodmare owners want to be part of an inaugural crop. There is still enthusiasm in a second year with first-year breeders backing their claims. However, in the third year there are many that shy away and look elsewhere, not wishing to get caught in the proverbial trap. That is if the first crop disappoints it means those breeding the third time around may have yearlings that don’t reach sale expectations.

Father Patrick is a rarity in that he is not likely to get the third year blues. The impressive son of Cantab Hall enters his third year at Diamond Creek Farms in Pennsylvania with the feeling that he’s already accomplished something, despite the fact that his first crop won’t sell until this fall.

“I think he’ll have a full book,” said Adam Bowden, owner at Diamond Creek. “If I had to describe his first crop in one word it would be awesome!”

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“They are consistent. They are correct. They are balanced. They are athletic,” Bowden said, rattling off characteristics that are likely to make trotting aficionados drool when they go to the block this fall.

Perhaps more important for those looking for a Father Patrick in the first year will be the numbers. With Father Patrick forced into double duty to comply with the then-Gural Rule, he was only able to breed about half a normal book in 2015 in New Jersey. Fewer than 50 foals resulted from those breedings, but Bowden appears confident there will be plenty to choose from in the first crop.

“We bred a lot of mares, Marvin Katz bred many of his and Brittany Farms bred a lot. I think you’ll see at least 30 sold,” Bowden said.

Given the depth of those three breeders’ broodmare ranks, and the incredible quality they have offered over the last few decades, there’s much to look forward to in the pedigree department.

“We bred most of our good mares with matching pedigrees,” said Bowden of the Diamond Creek selection.

For Bowden the love affair with Father Patrick happened after a near-perfect 2-year-old campaign in 2013 that saw him dominate an impressive freshman crop with 11 wins in 12 starts.

“I think he was one of the greatest 2-year-old trotters of all time,” said Bowden. “He had a few missteps at three (most notably an untimely break at the start of the Hambletonian) but he rebounded and finished out the year strongly in the Breeders Crown.”

Perhaps helping elevate Father Patrick’s stature even more after his retirement was the incredible ascension of Nuncio in the ranks of European trotting. Father Patrick routinely got the better of his rival through the first two years on the racetrack.

Father Patrick handled a full book of mares in 2016, his first year in Pennsylvania, and is well on his way to a large book in 2017 again in the Keystone State.

In addition to being a son of one of the sport’s elite trotting stallions in Cantab Hall, Father Patrick has a rich and rather deep maternal pedigree that appears to have transformed the breed. It extends back to the brilliant trotting mare Armbro Flight and more recently in Gala Dream, Father Patrick’s dam.

Gala Dream was the second foal of the Valley Victory mare Maple Frosting. She a daughter of Enjoy Lavec, was sandwiched between two extremely successful sophomore trotters in Sugar Trader (Trade Balance), with more than $730K in lifetime earnings, and Chocolatier (Credit Winner), a $1.3 million winner.

Of course Bowden had praise for the physical specimen that Father Patrick was as a racehorse and has most definitely carried along to his early foals. It is no guarantee of success, but certainly a great indicator that Father Patrick is passing on some of his most impressive attributes.

Jimmy Takter did a fantastic job conditioning Father Patrick throughout his $2.5 million career and he’s likely to be training a daughter from the stallion’s first crop. Susy is a filly out of the remarkable broodmare Solveig, the dam of  $2.7 million winner Shake It Cerry, as well as her brothers Solvato, Dontyouforgetit and Uncle Lasse, all stakes winners as sophomores.

It’s still early, but the stallion foundation of Father Patrick appears to be on well and balanced footing.