05/24/2015 7:08PM

Harrah's Philly: Father Patrick sets track record in Maxie Lee

Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
Father Patrick won his 4-year-old debut over Bee A Magician on Sunday.

Trainer Jimmy Takter has seen his share of great trotters over the years and he thinks Father Patrick is among them.

The 4-year-old Father Patrick, who was a division champion at ages 2 and 3, made his 4-year-old debut a winning one by capturing Sunday’s $150,000 Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational for older trotters by two lengths over Bee A Magician in 1:52 1/5 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Lindy’s Tru Grit finished third.

Father Patrick’s time equaled the track record for a 4-year-old male trotter.

“If everything stays perfect I think he’s going to be very dominant,” said Takter, whose past stars include Horse of the Year Award winners Moni Maker and Malabar Man. “I really do. I’ve been around greatness, and I think he’s going to be a horse people talk about for many, many years.”

Father Patrick has won 23 of 29 career races and earned $2.51 million for the Father Patrick Stable ownership group.

Takter also visited the winner’s circle following the inaugural $150,000 Jerry Taylor Invitational for older male pacers, which was won by his Great Vintage by three-quarters of a length over Dancin Yankee in 1:50.2. Mach It So finished third.

Radar Contact won the $150,000 Betsy Ross Invitational for older female pacers by a neck over Anndrovette, who won last year’s race. Ooh Bad Shark was third.

The Maxie Lee field featured a deep group of trotters, including 2013 Horse of the Year Bee A Magician as well as division champions Classic Martine and Market Share, who won last year’s edition of the event.

Father Patrick and Bee A Magician were among four horses to go for the lead on the first turn and Father Patrick got to the front before the group neared the second turn. The opening quarter was 27 1/5, followed by a half in 55 4/5 and three-quarters in 1:24 2/5.

Bee A Magician tried to launch a challenge coming off the final turn, but Father Patrick yielded no ground.

“He did it so easy too,” winning driver Yannick Gingras said. “The earplugs are still in; I never really called on him. I let him trot the last eighth (of a mile).

“Bee A Magician got the right trip, but with those kinds of fractions maybe I got a little bit of a jump on her. But she’s a great horse and I was definitely worried around the turn when Brian pulled because I knew she would give me a run. But he just showed what kind of horse he is.”

A son of Cantab Hall out of the mare Gala Dream, Father Patrick prepped for his seasonal debut by qualifying three times, with his final effort being a 1:52 victory at the Meadowlands on May 16.

“Last week we wanted to get him a race but weren’t able to, so I treated that (qualifier) as a race,” Gingras said. “We went decent fractions and he stretched his legs out a little. I knew he was about as ready as he could be. He’s not in peak, peak form yet, but he was good enough to win today.”

In addition to preparing for his racing campaign, Father Patrick has been doing stud duty. He made three trips to the breeding farm in the week leading up to the Maxie Lee.

“It’s individual,” Takter said about whether breeding and racing could work for all horses. “I know horses that won’t go at all; when you start breeding them they lose total interest in racing. In his case, it hasn’t been negative. So far so good.”

Great Vintage also has done stud duty, but after he bred just a handful of mares this year Takter decided it was better to give him a chance again on the racetrack. Great Vintage had been “retired” after suffering a ligament injury last August.

A 7-year-old son of American Ideal out of the mare Art’s Vintage, Great Vintage is 2-for-2 this season. He has won 28 of 95 career races and earned $793,108.

“He came back very happy,” Takter said. “He got hurt in the fall last year, so I thought he was done. But he came back sounder and better. He was a really good 2-year-old, but he got hurt in the paddock when he was turned out so he didn’t come back good as a 3-year-old. He had a bad injury on the knee.

“He raced good (in the two years) after that. He’s a good horse. He’s a brother to ($2.1-million-earner) Vintage Master, so he’s got a license to play. He’s a tough horse.”

Takter trains Great Vintage for owners Christina Takter, John Fielding, Goran Anderberg and Goran Falk.

In the Betsy Ross, Radar Contact went to the front in the opening quarter-mile and never looked back, holding off multiple Dan Patch Award-winner Anndrovette at the wire.

A 7-year-old daughter of Dontgetinmyway out of the mare Topville Cyberwave, Radar Contact has won six of 16 races this year and finished worse than second only twice. For her career, she has 31 victories in 97 starts and $877,006 in purses.

Radar Contact is trained by Noel Daley for owners Charles Stillings and Dean Ehrgott.

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com