Day At The Track

Melander credits rise to good team

06:08 AM 16 Jan 2019 NZDT
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Marcus Melander,Harness racing
Marcus Melander
Marcus Melander stable photo

Marcus Melander's name will be on the U.S. Harness Writers Association's 2018 Rising Star Award, but the 27-year-old trainer says the recognition extends beyond one person.

"It's a great accomplishment, but it's not really just my award," Melander said. "It's my whole barn. If I didn't have all these people working with me, I wouldn't do any good. That's why we've been having success; it's a lot because of them. We have a good team. And then you need to have owners that support you. That's very important, too. I'm lucky to have owners that support me a hundred percent."

Melander, who joined Nancy Johansson as the only trainers to receive the Rising Star Award in the past 20 years, saw his stable earn $2.86 million in purses last year, good enough to finish 15th among all trainers in North America despite having the fifth-fewest starts (219) among all trainers in the top 50.

His top horse was undefeated male trotter Gimpanzee, who saw his 9-for-9 campaign at age 2 rewarded with the division's Dan Patch Award. Gimpanzee's victories for owners Anders Ström's Courant Inc. and Lennart Agren's S R F Stable included the Breeders Crown and New York Sire Stakes championship.

Melander's stable also saw 2-year-old male trotter Green Manalishi S win the William Wellwood Memorial and finish second in both the Breeders Crown and Peter Haughton Memorial. Another male 2-year-old trotter, Greenshoe, won the New Jersey Sire Stakes title.

"We had a really good year, especially with the 2-year-olds," Melander sad. "We didn't have that many 3-year-olds, but the 2-year-olds did great."

In addition, older trotters Cruzado Dela Noche and Crazy Wow -- both July additions to Melander's stable -- posted top Grand Circuit triumphs, with Cruzado Dela Noche capturing the Yonkers International Trot and Crazy Wow the Maple Leaf Trot. Those wins came at odds of 30-1 and 31-1, respectively.

"We had a little luck getting Crazy Wow and Cruzado Dela Noche in the middle of the summer," Melander said. "You've got to have a little luck in the races, but both those horses raced great on those particular days."

Melander, who employs a staff of a dozen people, enters 2019 with 60 horses in training and is looking to build off last year's success.

"(Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi S) are doing very good," Melander said. "I brought them back in early December so they've been training for over a month now. They filled out very nicely. They're probably going to grow a little bit more during the winter. I'm very happy with how they're feeling so far."

Greenshoe, Gerry, and Demon Onthe Hill add depth to Melander's group of male 3-year-old trotters. Greenshoe was limited to four starts last year because of immaturity and sickness while Gerry and Demon Onthe Hill both were winners on the Pennsylvania-stakes circuit.

"Hopefully (Greenshoe) will mature more during the winter and develop a little bit too," Melander said. "He's a very fast horse, probably the fastest of any of my horses out of the 3-year-olds, but he was a little too anxious last year. He's been very quiet here at home. He's doing good. I couldn't be any happier with him at this moment. We'll see in three months.

"The 3-year-old colts look really good. Gerry was a really good horse last year and Demon Onthe Hill is a nice horse too. He might be a little bit under the best, best ones, but I think we have at least four of them that could be top Grand Circuit horses."

Among Melander's 2-year-olds are two high-priced female trotters, Fifty Cent Piece (who sold for $500,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale) and Bellareina Dolce ($400,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale). Both are owned by Lennart Agren's S R F Stables.

Melander, the nephew of trainer Stefan Melander, came to the U.S. from Sweden less than six years ago and worked for trainer Jimmy Takter before starting his own stable in late 2014. He is based in New Egypt, N.J., at a farm that was home previously to each the legendary Stanley Dancer and Continental Farms stables.

He got his first Grand Circuit win in 2016 with trotter Long Tom, who was a 2-year-old at the time. The following year, Long Tom was joined by 3-year-old Enterprise and 2-year-old Fourth Dimension in adding to Melander's Grand Circuit resume. Fourth Dimension, who was injured last year and retired, ended 2017 as the Dan Patch Award winner for best 2-year-old male trotter.

"We built (the stable) up, no rush really," Melander said. "The first year we had 10 horses, then 25, then 40 to 45 and now we have 60. And you get better horses. It really started that year we got Long Tom and Enterprise. They had success. And then we had Fourth Dimension. Those horses really put you on the map.

"Everything has been developing great, really. I'm still developing too. I still have things to learn, it will come with age. Hopefully I've got many years left in this sport."

Melander will be among the honorees at the U.S. Trotting Association's Dan Patch Awards banquet on Feb. 24 at Rosen Shingle Creek resort in Orlando, Fla., at which time Trotter, Pacer and Horse of the Year will be revealed. For more information about the resort and banquet visit the U.S. Trotting Association's website.

 

Ken Weingartner

Media Relations Manager

U.S. Trotting Association

www.ustrotting.com

@harnessracenews

@HarnessKenW

 

 


 

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