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YONKERS, N.Y. – What would it mean to you to win harness racing's Yonkers International Trot? Conni Lugauer pondered the question in silence for some time Saturday morning (Sept. 21), hours before his trainee Alegra B won the Breeders Crown Mares at Trabrennbahn Mariendorf in Berlin, Germany. Finally, Lugauer conceded. “This is a really good question,” he said. “I’m always thinking about victories, but I didn’t think about victory in the International Trot. The question is too big. I don’t know.” Come Oct. 12, Lugauer may be in a better position to answer the question. The German-born trainer will send Norton Commander to represent his homeland in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot. Although Lugauer hoped to secure an invitation to Yonkers’ premier race for trotters for months, his aspirations seemed crushed as the initial list of 10 probables didn’t include Norton Commander. However, after the defection of Sobel Conway Sept. 18, Norton Commander’s invitation arrived. “It was my opinion to put him in the race because he’s now arrived at the top. He’s been racing this year against good competition and he almost beat them quite often. It was my plan to get him into this race, actually,” Lugauer said. “We are proud of course and happy because we are a stable who wants to race in the big races. It’s impressive to race in America. It’s the next step in my vision. We are really proud about it. “First of all, the history. It’s one of the most famous international races in the world that we have. If you look at the winners of this race, they are mostly really famous racehorses. It’s the biggest point, I think,” Lugauer said. “It’s always nice for the European horses to race in America. And the last point is the prize money.” A native of Regensburg, Bavaria, Germany, Lugauer grew up in a harness racing family. His father, Johann, was a successful trainer and Lugauer became fascinated by the horses at a young age. At age 16, Lugauer drove his first winner and two years later in 1992, he became a professional trainer. He moved his stable to Sweden in 2004 and has been there since. Lugauer’s stable is now about 90 horses strong and in the midst of its best year to date. Lugauer has trained winners of 108 races from 397 races so far this season, good for 12.9 million Swedish Krona. In addition to Norton Commander and Alegra B, his stars include Ferrari Sisu, who finished second in the Group 1 Swedish Travderby. “This year is our best year in my career. We have some quite good horses,” Lugauer said. “I feel extremely confident and it’s a lot of fun at the moment.” Owned by Ulrich Mommert, Norton Commander came to Lugauer as an unraced 2-year-old. The tall chestnut sported white socks that reached his knees and a blaze that began just below his forelock and widened down his face to fully engulf his nose. “First of all, he’s a really beautiful horse,” Lugauer said. “He sticks out in the field because of the nice color and he’s a big one. He has the white socks and he has the really long legs. I felt quite early this horse had the future before him.” Norton Commander qualified at Lugauer’s Jägersro base Sept. 1, 2017 and won eight of his first twelve races from Sept. 11, 2017 through Sept. 19, 2018. After Norton Commander won a class 1 trial for 3-year-olds worth 125,000kr Dec. 26, Lugauer knew big things were ahead. Norton Commander is 3-for-7 in 2019. His first win this year came in a class 1 trial at Åby on the Olympiatravet undercard. Norton Commander next raced at Solvalla Elitloppet weekend, taking the class 1 final over 2,140 meters on the Saturday card. Norton Commander ran his win streak to three when taking a 45,000€ trot at Vincennes in a 1:10.9 kilometer rating for the 2,100 meters. Although Norton Commander enters the Yonkers International Trot off three straight losses, the 5-year-old hasn’t missed by much. Lugauer tried the Gift Kronos son in Group 1 company for the first time in the Jubileumspokalen at Solvalla Aug. 14. Norton Commander started from the inside post and Lugauer kept the trotter three back along the pylons throughout the 2,140-meter race while favorite Who’s Who tracked cover to his outside. Up the backstretch the final time, rival Vincero' Gar pulled the pocket and Norton Commander followed the move, shifting to the outside. The cover took Norton Commander to the top of the stretch, where he dived back inside for a clear path. However, he couldn’t outkick Who’s Who and Milliondollarrhyme, who each stormed down the center of the track to take the top two spots, respectively. Norton Commander finished third a half-length behind Who’s Who. “He was racing against the best 5-year-old horses in Europe in the Jubileumspokalen,” Lugauer said. “He was third and he was a little unlucky because I (kept him inside) for quite a long time in the race and didn’t come out early enough. He won at Vincennes in a time of 10.9 over 2,100 meters quite easily, so he has now arrived at the top.” Lugauer thinks racing at Yonkers will suit Norton Commander. While many trotters are faster without shoes, the trainer feels Norton Commander is just as fast with them, which plays to his favor on the Hilltop oval. In addition, Lugauer thinks the race flow will work to Norton Commander’s advantage. “He doesn’t have to go without shoes and I think at Yonkers, it’s better you go with shoes, so that’s a little plus for him. We are really looking forward to it, because I don’t think those horses will be running away from him,” he said. “I think also the racing system in America, how they drive the races, is also a plus for my horse because he likes a strong tempo and he’s also really strong in the end, so if he gets a good post, I’m almost sure he’ll do a good race and get some money,” Lugauer continued. Although confident in his training and in his horse, Lugauer respects the competition Norton Commander will face in the 1 1/4-mile Yonkers International Trot. His nine rivals will include defending champion Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden) and 2018 Hambletonian winner Atlanta (U.S.). Guardian Angel AS will also represent the U.S. and Marion Marauder will race for Canada. The other European invaders are Bahia Quesnot (France), Lionel (Norway), Zacon Gio (Italy), Slide So Easy (Denmark), and Uza Josselyn. “Atlanta and those horses, they are really famous and really fast,” Lugauer said. “I’m really interested in how my horse handles those horses. But the European horses are also quite fast and maybe a little stronger for the distance.” Like most of the European connections, Lugauer’s main concern is the mandatory quarantine faced by the foreign horses. The European contingent for the International will be stabled at Yonkers for the week leading up to the International Oct. 12 and will spend most of the time in their stalls, with exceptions made for training and grazing in the track’s infield. “The quarantine, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge,” Lugauer said. “I don’t know how he’ll handle that because he’s normally out in the field a lot. That won’t be happening for 10 days before the race, so I don’t know how he’ll handle that, but normally, he’s quite uncomplicated, so I trust in him. I think he’ll manage it.” Although Lugauer won’t be in New York to see Norton Commander race in the Yonkers International firsthand, the trotter will be in good hands. Lugauer’s 25-year-old son, Marc Elias, will drive in the International as Lugauer must take the lines behind trainee Campo Bahia in the Group 1 Grand Prix de l'UET at Helsinki the same day. Elias has driven Norton Commander in four of the trotter’s 12 wins. Lugauer is optimistic. “It’s a dream come true because this is one point in my career that I want to do, race in America. This is extremely big for us, but now we will see what happens.” The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 12 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the 1 1/4-mile Harry Harvey Trot and 1-mile Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, click here. Yonkers Raceway features live harness racing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. First post time is 6:50 p.m. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Today was a superb trotting day at Aby highlighted by the Konung Gustaf Pokal (Gr. I International, purse to winner 1,150,000SEK, 2140 meters autostart) that went to 1.10.6kr timed Campo Bahia (4m Muscle Hill-Americandream AT-Extreme Dream) reined by trainer Conrad Lugauer for owner Thomas Berchtold et.al.   Campo Bahia won for the sixth time in nine harness racing career starts and raised his life earnings to 3,754,000SEK.   He was off at 2.3/1 odds and bested Attraversiamo (4m Kiss Francis-Rhythm Kronos- Viking Kronos) with Erik Adielson aboard. Third was Thrust Control (4m Cantab Hall-Ideal Harbor-SJs Caviar) with Bjorn Goop up for trainer Stefan Melander.   The filly classic Drottning Silvias Pokal (Gr. I International, 1,150,000SEK to the winner, 2140 meters autostart) this day went to 1.11.6kr clocked Activated (4f Jacose-Marelle-Viking Kronos) with Carl Johan Jepson up for owner/trainer Fredrik Wallin.   Activated                                             --ATG photo   This mare earned her sixth career victory in 19 outings now for 2,213,630SEK earned. She was off at 62.4/1 odds and defeated the 1.2/1 favorite Conrads Rodluva (4f SJs Caviar-Moviestar-Juliano Star) reined by Orjan Kihlstrom for trainer Daniel Reden.   Third was 140.4/1 Convivial Church (4f Pastor Stephen-MT Halleluja-Kadabra) teamed with Kenneth Haugstad for trainer Reden.   Thomas H. Hicks

The Friday opener at Paris-Vincennes was the €52,000 purse Prix Atropos raced over 2850 meters by 16 European contestants. The 1.4/1 favorite King Sir Kir (5m Make It Happen-Kings Blondie) scored, timed in 1.13.3kr for harness racing driver J-M Bazire. Fabrice Souloy is the winners’ trainer and Ecurie IC Equine AM is the owner. 10.9/1 Super Fez (5m Love You-Lucia FI) was second, driven by Gabriel Gelormini for Scuderia Cumana Group SRL and trainer H.E. Bondo. Third went to 12.6/1 Balando (5m Nijinski Blue-Quitalia) with Dominik Locqueneux driving for Alphonsee Vanberghen, the breeder/owner/trainer. The featured Quinte+ Prix Charlie Mills (purse €65,000, 2850 meters, 15 European starters) went to impressive 1.12.9kr timed and 40.3/1 odds Art On Line (9g Rite On Line-Lass Fleur) with trainer Conrad Lugauer teaming. Team Art On Line AB of Sweden owns this winner. 1.8/1 favorite Orient Horse (8m Abano As-Irma del Rio) held for second for Pierre Levesque, trainer Thomas Levesque and owner Mme. Bruni of Italy. 53.2/1 Prince di Poggio (7m Varenne-Moon Shadow) took third for Mathieu Mottier and trainer Fabrice Souloy. Fourth was another Souloy trainee, the 2.9/1 Arazi Boko (9g Varenne-Laura Kemp) with J-M Bazire up for owner Ecurie Pirat. 10.9/1 Vanese de Mirel (7g Laetenter Dien-Melia Monochrome) was fifth with Tony LeBeller driving. Race namesake Charlie Mills was the legendary German horseman born of an Irish horse trainer father, Anthony Mills. Mills won his first race in 1903 and influenced European trotting after WWII through the FR-bred Gelinotte that won the 1956 and 1957 Prix d’Amerique classiques, the Lotteria and the 1957 Copenhagen Cup. Earlier he won the 1934 Prix d’Amerique with US-bred Walter Dear with which he captured the 1931 and 1932 Copenhagen Cup. Mills won 4,354 races as driver/trainer/breeder. The Prix Rouanier (purse €46,000, 2100 meters autostart, 16 starters) went to 1.13.9kr timed and 30.9/1 odds Caprice du Bission (4g Meaulnes du Corta-Pamela du Bisson) with owner/trainer Franck Anne driving. 25.5/1 Christo (4g Rieussec-Panacee) was next with trainer Michel Lenoir up for Ecurie des Amis. Third was 20.9/1 Crazy Dream (4g Repeat Love-Daisy Chain) with trainer Yves Boireau up for breeder/owner Ecurie D (Jean Pierre Dubois). The monte Prix Homoria (purse €48,000, 2200 meters, 13 European starters) went to the 1.13.5kr timed and 18.8/1 odds Vamp Gede (7f Capriccio-Feerie Gede). Damien Bonne was in the irons. 17.3/1 Queasy (7g Donato Hanover-Marinated Herring) landed second for Guillaume Martin, trainer Ronny Kuiper and Travkompaniet Stall SB of Sweden. 1.9/1 favorite Volcan du Moulin (7g Jomo du Rib-Lune des Geneta) ralled for third. Thomas H. Hicks    

Sweden’s Calvin Borel (6m Super Photo Kosmos-Ulrika Foran) with harness racing owner/trainer Conrad Lugauer driving took today’s Quinte+ Prix du Conseil Departmental (purse €38,000, 2850 meters, 16 European starters) at Cabourg. Racing barefoot the rallying winner was off at 2/1 and was timed in 1.14.9kr. 18/1 A Nice Boy (6g Niky-Pretty Perle) held on for second, driven by David Thomain, and third was Finland’s 32/1 Big Headache (6g EL Mikko-Southwind Roselle) with trainer Philippe Daugeard up. The Q+ jackpot this day was €3,150,000 and the exact order payout was €48,430. The Pornichet featured Grand Prix de la Ville de Pornichet (purse €34,000, 2725 meters, 18 European starters) went to Italy’s  13/1 Paparazi (7g Infinitif-Emily di Jesolo) with Mathieu Abrivard up for trainer Lutfi Kolgjini and owner Cete Trav AB. Timed in 1.14.3kr this one bested 13/1 Tsunami (9g Defi d’Aunou-Lais de la Duchee) handled by Mathieu Mottier and 2.6/1 Ulyssee de Fountain (8g Neutron du Cebe) with owner/trainer Y.R. Le Mee up. Thomas H. Hicks

September 2, 2015 - The Quinte+ (jackpot €2 million after a recent hit) was the Prix de la Ville de Saint-Maurice (purse €56,000, 2850 meters, 16 European starters) at Paris-Vincennes this evening. The 1.12.8kr impressive winner was 1.6/1 Calvin Borel (5m Super Photo Kosmos-Ulrika Furan) for owner/trainer/driver Conrad Lugauer. This one had been racing effectively in FR and appears to be emerging as a top trotter with this start to finish seven length score, his third in five FR appearances. 9.4/1 Red Team Rex (5m Cantab Hall-Ca;amit Rex) was second, driven by Franck Nivard for owner Frederil Holth (Norway) and trainer Fabrice Souloy. 56/1 Adman Perrine (5g Njinski Blue-Pretty Perrine) was third for reinsman Mathieu Abrivard with 10/1 Ah Quel Micha (5f Rocklyn-Oceane du Phare) fourth for Jean-Philippe Dubois and Ecurie Victoria Dreams. Cl. N° Chevaux Drivers Propriétaires Entraîneurs 1er 3 Calvin Borel SWE C. Lugauer C. Lugauer C. Lugauer 2ème 2 Red Team Rex ITY F. Nivard F. Holth F. Souloy 3ème 16 Adman Perrine M. Abrivard J.-F. Mary J.-F. Mary 4ème 14 Ah Quel Micha J-Ph. Dubois Ecurie Victoria Dreams Ph. Moulin 5ème 6 Astral Viretaute B. Piton J.-P. K'Dual P. Godey  Rapports (pour 2€)   Tirelire 2.000.000 € - Numéro plus : 0049     Ordre :       24.200,00€     Désordre :       484,00€     Bonus 4 :       45,00€     Bonus 4sur5 :       18,00€     Bonus 3 :       12,00€                     The €72,000 purse feature was the Prix Charley Mills (2850 meters, 11 European starters) and the 1.12.6kr winner was 44.5/1 odds Shadow d’Odyssee (9m Urfist des Pres-Battante d’Odyssee) with Eric Raffin aboard for trainer Pierre Bellache and Ecurie Percheronne. 3.4/1 Venose de Minel (6g Laetenter Diem-Melia Monochrome) was next for Joseph Verbeeck with third to 9.6/1 Vigious du Maza (6g Prodigious-Pocket Edition) and reinsman Sebastien Ernault with 1.2/1 favorite Ulster Perrine (7m Tenor de Baune-Nana Perrine) fourth for J-M Bazire. At Pont de Vivaux today a three year-old event named the Prix de Vire (€20,000, 2650 meters, 14 starters) went to 62/1 longshot Conquete A Deux (3f Sam Bourbon-Nina Madrik) for Kevin Vanderschelden, trainer Yves Boureau and owner Jean-Pierre Dubois. This 1.19kr winner defeated 30/1 Cyrus Decouriere (3g Himo Josselyn-Quismie Decouriere) and 22/1 Concino Vici (3m Scipion du Goutier-Irlande du Nord). The winner earned her second victory in nine career starts. Two year-olds battled at Enghien-Soisy Thursday in the Prix du Haut Rhin (purse €35,000, 2150 meters autostart, 9 starters) with 1.1/1 favorite Don Mayjc (2m Baccarat du Pont-Mammy Blue) holding on for victory in 1.17kr. Eric Raffin teamed the winner for trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Pierre Pilarski. Da Vinci Bond (2m Quaker Jet-Joliette d’Atout) was second, also a Guarato trainee, with third to 2.5/1 FDream Darling (2m Sam Bourbon-Let’s Go Darling) driven by owner Jean-Pierre Dubois. The Prix de Champillon at Enghien-Soisy went to 5.4/1 odds Capital Charm (3g Password-Melly Charm) for Francois Lecanu and Ecurie Victoria Dreams. He earned the winners share of the €40,000 purse by traveling 2150 meters autostart timed in 1.15.7kr in defeat of nine rivals. 2/1 Coup de Poker (3m Coktail Jet-Tacticienne) was second for owner/trainer/driver Christophe Gallier and third went to 27/1 Caviar du Vivier (3m Kiwi-Kea du Vivier) and trainer/driver Stephane Meunier. Thomas H. Hicks

June 8, 2015 - Spartan Kronos (4m Muscle Hill-Dame Kronos-King Conch) secured today’s Ina Scots Ara (200,000SEK first prize, 2140 meters autostart, four year-olds) at Mantorp with harness racing trainer Conrad Lugauer driving. He scored in 1.12.8kr for a length verdict over Explosive de Vie (4g Explosive Matter-Ava-Pine Chip) with Jim Oscarsson up. Origo Tilly (4g Super Arnie-Regina Tilly-Speedy Crown) took third for teamster Torbjorn Jansson. The winner has a 2-1-2 slate in five 2015 appearances for owner Thomas Berchtold et.al. and breeder Allev. Kronos Srl. This day, also at Mantorp, Guiding Solo (3m Yankee Glide-Sole Mate-Self Possessed-Sole To Sole-Royal Prestige) took a 1640 meter autostart event for Peter Untersteiner timed in 1.14.4kr. This Kentuckiana Farms pedigree has been consistently productive. The dam Sole Mate was a US$145,000 yearling and was third at age two in the Lexington Filly and Johnston Memorial. She produced Flashback and Mr. Jim Dandy and this maternal family produced Duke Rodney (from Duke’s Dutchess), Courtly, Jermyn Street and Trapped (from Kimberly Dutchess) and other top performers including Justice Hall, Springboard, All About Justice, Just A Con Man, Diva Diva and Top Chef. Thomas H. Hicks

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