Day At The Track

Paal returns to USA with Elitloppet's Ringostarr Treb

04:36 AM 11 Oct 2018 NZDT
Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print
Wilhelm Paal, harness racing
Wilhelm Paal at the draw board for the Yonkers International Trot
Ken Weingartner photo

It's been six years since Wilhelm Paal competed in the U.S. and his return will not go unnoticed. Paal, a 58-year-old native of Germany, is back to drive European standout Ringostarr Treb in Saturday's $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino's Yonkers Raceway.

Ringostarr Treb, the winner of Sweden's prestigious Elitloppet in May, is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line behind Marion Marauder at 3-1. An 8-year-old stallion, Ringostarr Treb, a son of stallion Classic Photo, has won 30 of 86 career races and $1.57 million. He is trained by New England native Jerry Riordan, who won last year's International Trot with Twister Bi, and will represent Italy for owners E.V.A.M. Racing.

"It's always a big honor to have a horse invited to this kind of race," Paal said. "I think we have a shot. He is a hell of a horse. I'm really happy to be with him. Hopefully he can do good on Saturday.

"We are just proud to be here. This is what makes life. Not only the sport, life. What they do here at Yonkers brings people together. We should do that much more often. It's unique. It's a big thing."

Paal, who has enjoyed a 40-year career as a driver and trainer, is no stranger to the International Trot. He drove Every Way to a sixth-place finish in the 1987 edition of the invitational, which was won by Callit. It was the last year the race, which began in 1959, was held at Roosevelt before moving to Yonkers. The race was discontinued following the 1995 edition, but resurrected in 2015.

In addition to their Elitloppet triumph, Ringostarr Treb and Paal won this year's Group 1 Olympiatravet.

"He's stepped up in class every year," Paal said of Ringostarr Treb. "When he went to Jerry, he stepped up in class again. I must say, the horse is a very smart horse. He can handle every kind of track and can do it either from the lead or with cover. It doesn't make a big difference. If I have cover, and I have a horse that sets the pace where he can come out the last quarter (mile), I think he is best that way."

Paal grew up on a farm near Dusseldorf and started riding ponies at a young age before going into show jumping. At the age of 15, he began working with trotters. He won his first race in 1977.

"I grew up step by step with horses," he said.

After working in Germany, he opened a stable in Italy in 1989. Four years later, he won the Gran Premio Lotteria and Gran Premio Renzo Orlandi with Embassy Lobell and in 1995 he won four Group 2 events in Italy with Toss Out.

Following additional successes in Italy, Paal opened a stable in France in 1999. He moved to the U.S. in 2006, while maintaining stables in Europe, and remained a presence in the States until the middle of 2012. He has operated a stable in Sweden since 2015.

"I enjoy coming back to the United States and New York City," Paal said. "I liked a lot being here. It was a good experience. I'm proud that I tried it because it gives me a good feeling to know how it works in the United States. Now I'm in Sweden and we have pretty good horses."

Capturing Sweden's most renowned race, the Elitlopp, was a thrill for Paal, who competed in the race seven times prior to his victory with Ringostarr Treb.

"For me it meant a lot," Paal said. "You know the best horses in the world are getting an invitation. I could make it thanks to a great horse and thanks to great work that Jerry did. We are proud.

"I'm working three years now in Sweden and it helps a little bit when you win the biggest race in the country where you work," he added.

All of his experiences have Paal feeling like a man half his age.

"I'm 58, but I feel like 30," he said, smiling. "Things are going good right now."

Racing at Yonkers begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The International Trot is race No. 8 on the card and scheduled for 3:40 p.m. The day also includes the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot, featuring the fastest trotter in history, Homicide Hunter, plus the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace, featuring the continued rivalry between McWicked and New Zealand-bred Lazarus.

Following is the field in post-position order for the $1 million Yonkers International Trot.

PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-Morning Line
1-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-3/1
2-Up And Quick-Jason Bartlett-Antoine Lherete-10/1
3-Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/1
4-Ringostarr Treb-Wim Paal-Jerry Riordan-4/1
5-Pastore Bob-Johan Untersteiner-Johan Untersteiner-8/1
6-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-12/1
7-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-6/1
8-Arazi Boko-Alessandro Gocciadoro-Alessandro Gocciadoro-15/1
9-Lionel-Goran Antonsen-Daniel Reden-10/1
10-Slide So Easy-Flemming Jensen-Flemming Jensen-15/1
* Lionel and Slide So Easy start from the second tier.

For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

Comment (...) Tweet Share Email Print

Read More News About...

Stallion Name

Next article in International: