EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J — Father Patrick puts a 15-race winning streak on the line as the 4-5 favorite in the $1 million Hambletonian on Saturday at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
A winner of 16 of 17 races, Father Patrick drew post No. 10. He is 6 for 6 on the season heading into the famed trotting race for 3-year-olds.
Father Patrick is one of three entrants for trainer Jimmy Takter who is well positioned to capture his third Hambletonian. Takter also sends out 7-2 second choice Trixton from post No. 7 and 9-2 third choice Nuncio from post No. 5.
"They are all training really good," Takter said. "All three are coming into this race the best I can have them."
Yannick Gingras will drive Father Patrick. Hall of Famer John Campbell, the record holder with six Hambletonian victories, handles Nuncio while Takter will drive Trixton.
Nuncio is the only horse to beat Father Patrick. That victory came here last summer in an elimination for the Peter Haughton Memorial stakes.
Father Patrick drew the widest post behind the mobile starting gate that accommodates 10 horses.
"Father Patrick is my strongest horse," Takter said. "But it's not an ideal post, but this horse is extremely good."
The strength of the Takter trio discouraged the competition. The 11 entrants are the fewest since the filly Continentalvictory beat 10 rivals in 1996.
This will be the first time in the 89-year history of the Hambletonian that the field advances directly to the final without heats or elimination races. It will also be the first Hambletonian raced before the new Meadowlands grandstand that debuted last November.
The full field for the Hambletonian, in post-position order with odds: Resolve, 20-1; JJ Alex, 50-1; Doncango, 20-1; Datsyuk, 12-1; Nuncio, 9-2; Royal Ice, 20-1; Trixton, 7-2; Il Sogno Dream, 50-1; Harper Blue Chip, 12-1; Father Patrick, 4-5; Don Dorado, 20-1.
The field was also drawn for the companion event for trotting fillies on Saturday, the $500,000 Hambletonian Oaks.
Designed To Be, one of three horses in the race trained by Julie Miller, is the 2-1 favorite from the rail.
Miller's other fillies are Cee Bee Yes, 20-1 from post No. 2 and Take The Money, 12-1 from post No. 5.
Takter trains the 5-2 second choice, Shake It Cerry, who starts from the second tier in post 11.