11/20/2014 10:14AM

Breeders Crown: The Father Patrick roller coaster

Derick Giwner
Father Patrick has his eyes set on a Breeders Crown win at the Meadowlands on Saturday.

The roller coaster year for Father Patrick could be about to hit an upswing in the $500,000 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old trotters. That is if you believe the words of trainer Jimmy Takter.

A staunch believer in his well bred son of Cantab Hall-Gala Dream, the trainer is far from worried about the colt’s recent break at Dover Downs in the Matron on November 6 or his recent unwillingness to pass horses in the stretch. Instead Takter focuses on the here and now.

Father Patrick qualified on November 15 in preparation for the Breeders Crown final and Takter thinks he found some answers. “There are a couple of things I have to adjust on him,” said Takter after the 1:54 winning qualifying mile. “It was very valuable for me. It’s a big thing and I’m going to take advantage of it more often. It is foolish of me not to sit behind them more in the qualifiers instead of the catch-drivers. I have to sit behind them because it will benefit the catch-drivers too. It is so much different when you are behind a horse in a race versus training, even if you go the same speed. You get different input.”

[DRF LIVE: Get real-time updates and insights from DRF Harness reporters and handicappers at the Breeders Crown]

Father Patrick began the year undefeated in six starts and went behind the gate as the 2-5 favorite to win the $1 million Hambletonian. He made a break at the start that day and followed it up with another loss. His luster appeared to be waning, but he followed up the bad with a string of four straight wins. The ups and downs continued—loss, win, loss, break. Who is Father Patrick? How good is the prodigy Takter has exclaimed the best he has ever trained? Those are tough questions to answer.

Nuncio has been the opposite of his well-publicized stable mate. The Andover Hall-sired colt has won five straight and has never been worse than second in 16 starts this year. He has also beaten Father Patrick in their last two meetings on the track.

Despite the recent past performances, Takter remains true to his thinking that Father Patrick is not only the better horse, but will prove the better horse in Saturday’s final.

“Nothing to take away from Nuncio, he’s a very good honest horse and can fight like a warrior, but ability-wise, I’ve sat behind all three of them. The only one that could touch Father Patrick a little bit if he was a sounder horse is Trixton. Unfortunately he had too many issues and could never reach his true capacity,” said Takter.

“I think we win,” said a confident Takter on Father Patrick’s chances against Nuncio and the eight others on the gate in the Crown. “Once I get the couple of adjustments, Yannick will have a little more. He’s going to win it.”

Those appear to be the words of a man who truly believes that Father Patrick is ready for what is the most important race of his career to date, but how can he turn a blind eye to recent performances? Another difficult question.

It is all on the line in the ninth race on Saturday at the Meadowlands. A divisional title, possible Trotter of the Year honors, and maybe more could be up for grabs when the two Takter titans meet.

True drama!

[BREEDERS CROWN: Watch the Friday & Saturday cards from the Meadowlands live on DRF!]