Thursday was a remarkably easy day for
has been the case ever since breeding season began.
Because he had a tough training day the day before, he did
nothing in the morning other than while away the hours in
his stall at the farm of trainer Jimmy Takter until he was
ready to be taken to Walnridge Farm in Cream Ridge, NJ to
perform his breeding duties.
From door to door, including travel and the time he spent
in the breeding shed, took less than an hour. That's all it
took to collect his sperm yesterday and have him bred to
"He's very comfortable with his routine," said Walnridge
General Manager Dr. Richard Meirs. "He's like a working
machine. He has been very cooperative with his new
career and his diversity of careers."
Takter said he trains Father Patrick every Monday and
Thursday and, not wanting to give away any of his training
secrets, declined to disclose what he does the rest of the
week. After some hard work the day before, yesterday was
a rest day.
He is brought to Walnridge on days when there are
mares on his list to bred to that are ovulating. Yesterday
was one of those days. It is 11.4 miles from Takter's
training center in East Windsor, New Jersey to Walnridge
and the trip takes about 20 minutes. Once at Walnridge,
he is led off the trailer, taken into the breeding shed and
does his business. The entire process takes about five
minutes. When he's done he gets right back on the trailer and heads home.
The process was slowed just a bit yesterday as they had
to wait a few minutes for Meirs before they could begin.
While waiting, Father Patrick stood in a parking lot,
knowing what was to come, knickering with delight at
mares in a nearby field.
The semen collected yesterday was used to breed to
three mares, Cee Bee Yes, Be My Baby, and Magic
"People have this misconception that horses have to be
kept on a particular set schedule," Meirs said. "This is a
breath of fresh air for him. He loves it, he enjoys it. He's
holding his weight well and I think this can only help him in
his racing career because it helps with his attitude."
In years past, Father Patrick, last year's champion
3-year-old male trotter, would have almost certainly been
retired after his 3-year-old season as, with a horse of his
caliber, there is more money to be made breeding than
racing. But when Jeff Gural stepped in and got others to
join him to pass rules that bar the offspring of 4-year-old
stallions from racing in many major races owners of 4 year
olds had little choice but to keep their horses racing.
Adam Bowden of Diamond Creek Farm, someone in the industry who definitely thinks outside the box, bought
Father Patrick as a stallion and saw no reason why he
couldn't breed and race this year. After all, it is something
that is done regularly with top horses in Europe. The only
thing he would do different than he might have done with a
normal stallion was to limit the size of his first book.
Bowden announced early on that Father Patrick would go
to just 60 mares.
He would leave everything else up to Takter, whose
mission was to focus on getting Father Patrick back to the
races, hopefully, without missing a beat.
"We're doing nothing differently with him," Takter said.
"He's training exactly like my other 3 year olds and older."
Takter said that Father Patrick has had a good winter and
is right on schedule. He thinks 2014 might have just been a
warm-up for what the horse can accomplish this year.
"Yannick (Gingras) trained him, sat behind him for the
first time this year (Thursday) and they went a mile in about
2:13," Takter said. "He's always been a big fan of Father
Patrick and he said he never felt this horse as good as he
was this day. He is happy. He is having the best time of his
life. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he absolutely dominates
the sport this year. I know that is a big statement but I know
how good this horse is."
When it comes to his breeding career, that, too, could not
be going any better. He already has five mares who are
confirmed to be pregnant. Bowden has been so
encouraged by the response he has gotten from fellow
breeders who want to send their mares to Father Patrick
that he said it's entirely possible he will expand the book
beyond the original 60 and allow him to be bred to as many
as 15 more mares. The stud fee is $30,000.
Some believe that once a sire has discovered the joys of
you know what they will be less likely to put out their best
efforts on the racetracks. All the participants involved with
father Patrick don’t believe that will at all be the case
because of his temperament and competitive drive.
Originally, the idea was to breed and race for only one
year, with Father Patrick becoming a stallion only as a 5
year old. But Takter said that with everything having gone
so well that plan might be changed.
"I think this is exciting," he said. "If it all works out good
and he races as well as we think he will this year I don't see
any reason why we can't do the same thing next year. Why
not? I agree with Gural's philosophy. The sport definitely
needs high-profile horses. We need to show off these kind
The only question yet to be answered is how Father
Patrick will do on the racetrack this year. If he performs up
to Takter's expectations the experiment to breed and race
will be considered a smashing success, something that will
no doubt encourage others to do the same.
Shake It Cerry to be Bred to Father Patrick
Through Embryo Transfer
Shake It Cerry
Talk about a dream couple.
Both of Jimmy Takter’s champion 3-year-old trotters of
2014, mare Shake It Cerry
compete on the racetrack this year, but that hasn’t
prevented the Takter team from setting up a mating of the
Father Patrick is
pulling double duty and
will breed and race this
year. That gives him the
opportunity to be bred to
Shake It Cerry, which
will be done through an
embryo transfer, with
another mare carrying
“Believe me, I am not
a great fan of embryo
transfers. But we don’t
do it that much in this
sport so we don't really
have a lot of statistics out of it,” Takter said.”
There is a bias against yearlings that were the byproduct
of embryo transfers at the yearling sales, but Takter does
not have to worry about that because he has never had any
intention of selling any of Shake It Cerry’s foals.
“Shake It Cerry is owned by a group of people that would
never sell any of her foals,” Takter said. “If this would be a
horse at a place like Hanover, where they would market the
horse and have to consider how this would impact its value,
they would never do it. We'll take a couple of eggs out of
her and we see what happens. If we get a foal, we get a
foal. It would be stupid not to.”
Walnridge Farms General Manager Dr. Richard Meirs
says he sees no reason why the Shake It Cerry-Father
Patrick mating won’t work.
“I think the thing about embryo transfer horses not
working out is an old wive’s tale,” he said. “The science has
gotten much better over the years and a lot of foals that are
the product of embryo transfer are very healthy, very