Arch Madness is preparing for another trip to Europe, where haness racing trainer Trond Smedshammer hopes his trotter can defend one stakes title and add another. Last year, Arch Madness won the $480,647 Oslo Grand Prix in Norway in mid-May. Two weeks later in Sweden, he won his $68,420 elimination for the prestigious Elitlopp before finishing sixth in the $772,485 final later that same day.
No doubt Smedshammer would like to see Arch Madness complete a sweep of his starts this year.
"He's doing good," Smedshammer said. "He's been good the last couple starts. If he wasn't good, we wouldn't be going. If he continues to improve off his last couple starts, he'll be a player over there."
Arch Madness has raced four times this year, winning his last three. For his career, the 8-year-old gelding has won 30 of 77 starts and earned $3.27 million for owners Marc Goldberg and Barry Goldstein's Willow Pond. His top wins include the 2008 Maple Leaf Trot (in a then-stakes-record 1:52), the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old colt trotters and the 2011 Titan Cup in a stakes- and world-record 1:50.2.
Smedshammer, a native of Norway who has been stabled in central New Jersey for a decade, is expected to drive Arch Madness in the Oslo Grand Prix on May 13. Last year, Bjorn Goop handled the driving. Smedshammer has driven Arch Madness six times since the end of 2010, winning five.
"I'm going to go for a race, for sure," Smedshammer said. "It's a big race. It doesn't really matter where it is, but it is nice to travel. We do the same thing every day, so it breaks up the schedule a little bit."
Arch Madness won last year's Oslo Grand Prix with a stakes-record performance. He was one of the favorites in the Elitlopp, but Smedsahmmer said Arch Madness showed signs of tying up, or cramping, in the final. The race was won by 27-1 longshot Brioni.
"I think that's what made him show that bad performance in the (final)," Smedshammer said. "Even in the first heat I didn't think he looked himself. He definitely had an issue that day. Hopefully, he won't do that again this year."
Arch Madness is expected to leave for Europe on Thursday (May 3).
"Last year, he traveled well," Smedshammer said. "I'm hoping he will be good again. Sometimes he is more quiet when he gets away from home, especially if he likes it where he is going. He's a funny horse like that."
So far, five horses have been invited to the Elitlopp, which will have two eight-horse eliminations in the first round prior to the same-day final on May 27. Joining Arch Madness with invitations, according to the race's website, are Canada's Windsong Geant (who also will race in the Oslo Grand Prix), Sweden's Sanity and France's Rapide Lebel and Timoko.
Oslo Grand Prix 2011 - Arch Madness
by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications