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July 4, 2019 - Tae Kwan Deo (4m Muscle Hill-Brigham Dream-Kaisy Dream) took this week’s harness racing Sprintermastaren Final (referred to as the Sweden Hambletonian), a Gr. I event raced over 1609 meters autostart for a prize to the winner of 1.2SEK million. Adrian Kolgjini teamed the winner from post nine in the final, that was off at 5.6/1 and is owned by Lutfi Kolgjini and Whap Capital. He was timed in 1.10.9kr in defeating 9.7/1 Pinto Bob (4g Maharajah-Harkerods Wilma-Dreamaster) reined by his trainer Robert Bergh and 3.5/1 Evaluate (4m Andover Hall-Blathin-Classic Photo) that had Bjorn Goop aboard for trainer Stefan Melander. The eliminations (each raced over 1609 meters autostart for 150,000SEK to the winners), and there were three, first saw Pinto Bob win for Robert Bergh off at 20.8/1 and timed in 1.11.3kr. He bested 28.7/1 Tae Kwan Deo and pilot Adrian Kolgjini and third finishing 11.5/1 Alone (4m Maharajah-Quarantine-Varenne) handled by Pasi Aikio. The second elim went to 1.12kr timed, and 41.2/1 odds Frenchnorwegian ID (4m Saxo de Vandel-Private Melody-Hermes de Pericard) with trainer Robert Bergh up. 16.1/1 Night Rhythm (4m Muscle Hill-Tail of Night-Andover Hall) took second for Orjan Kihlstrom with 1.6/1 favorite Evaluate home third for Bjorn Goop. Elimination three went to 12.6/1 Adde S.H. (4g Nu Pagadi-Fast Allegro-Fast Photo) timed in 1.11.6kr. Trainer Peter Untersteiner was the pilot and this pair defeated 29.9/1 Jula Dounton (4m Kadabra-Abbey Craig-Muscles Yankee) handled by Carl Johan Jepson and 3.3/1 Thrust Control (4m Cantab Hall-Ideal Harbor-SJs Caviar) with Bjorn Goop at the lines for trainer Melander. Thomas H. Hicks  

July 5, 2019 - The 2.3/1 harness racing favorite Denzo Montaval (6f Laetenter Diem) took today’s Quinte+ Prix du Mont Saint Michel at Cabourg, the race for a purse of 32,000€ and contested by 14 starters over 2750 meters. Gabriele Gelormini teamed the winner timed in 1.14.4kr, to this ninth career win in 41 outings. 14/1 Domingo Bello (6g Look de Star) was second for Mathieu Mottier and 6.2/1 Dassero (6g Ubriaco) took third, ahead of 9/2 Daddy Cut (6g Coktail Jet) and 21/1 Denys Davsson (6f Meaulnes du Corta). There were 128 winning Quinte+ tickets that paid 5,122.80€ each. The Q+ pool this day Was 3,683,777€ and the total handle on the race exceeded 7,426,000€ Two days prior, the Q+ was at Enghien and longshots prevailed in the Prix Porte Charenton (purse 51,000€, 2875 meters distance handicap, 16 starters) as 38/1 Benuro d’Auvillier (8g Laetenter Diem) scored timed in 1.14.4kr. Dominique Mottier trains the winner and Antoine Dubouis was the pilot. 89/1 Baileyse (8f Opus Viervil) was second for Alexis Garandeau, overcoming a 25 meter handicap. 9/1 Amour du Coglais (9g Ganymede) tool third with Franck Nivard up. 12/1 Azar d’Azif and 16/1 Be One des Thirons completed the top five and there were no winning exact order Q+ tickets. The top five disorder paid 35,202€ to 26 ticketholders in this race that showed a Q+ handle of 2,978,786€. Total handle on this race exceeded 6.653,000€. Benure d’Auvillier Later on the Enghien card was the Prix de la Madeleine (purse 53,000€, 2875 meters, 10 starters) with victory to the well-bred and 3/2 favorite City Guide (4m Love You-Crys Dream) that was reined by Pierre Vercruysse for trainer Erwin Bot and owner Ecurie Gerrits Recycling BV. The winner was timed in 1.13.5kr while recording his fourth victory in 10 starts in France, now for 130,980€ in career earnings. The 2.1/1 second choice Lover Boy (4m Conway Hall-Merlot DK) was second with Alexandre Abrivard aboard and 27/1 Florida Sport (4f Tornado Bello) was third handled by M.X. Mestre Suner. City Guide On July the Q+ race at Vichy produced another exact order non-winning ticket day in the Prix Jean Michel Bazire (purse 31,000€, 2950 meters, 15 starters. The disorder winning tickets paid 14,016.40€ to 64 ticketholders as the top five finishers went off at 6.4, 72, 12, 10 and 99/1 respectively. The Q+ pool was 3,045,459€ and total handle on the race exceeded 6,456,000€. The winner was Alinea (9g Baccarat du Pont) reined by Charles J. Bigeon, for trainer Christian Bigeon, to his 18th lifetime win in 92 starts. Alinea Thomas H. Hicks  

John Calabrese kept the ball rolling with a win at Cesena. For sure for the affable John it was his first on the soil of his ancestors. this harness racing win, coupled with his smile, brought him many female admirers, especially when they somehow heard that he owned five racetracks in the USA. In the next event though the Italians scored a 1-4 placing over a really slow half pulled off by an Italian wall built up front mirroring those built in ancient times. They could have waited no longer to spoil our fun but took the cruelest path to deflate the American plans for a victory party. It did not matter though because the Americans were treated so royally well that if they had been beaten by 100 instead of by a mere six points. Truthfully the Americans were the big winners. With the care the Americans received from their hosts and friends, Stefano, Rafaello, Roberto Piergiovanni, and Daniele Ortello from amateur clubs from Venezia, Tuscano and Emiglia Romano ( Cesena), we certainly came out on top. Two more days until home for the USA team and all the baggage will be jam packed and brimming over with fond memories of the good times and our friends, both old and new. Coming next on the NAADA schedule will be friends from Torino arriving on US soiled in August. Their mission to compete and win some amateur races and see the famed Hambletonian. As Danile Orsini said we need to keep ties between our countries, as Italy and America have a lot in common, like between Phillip Mazzei and Thomas Jefferson. We must keep the game going at home and with our old Italian friends abroad. Italian horsemen have a great spirit in keeping the game going when you learn that purse money is delayed by six or more months. Yet these dedicated people come to Lexington and Harrisburg and they proudly displayed their Chapter Sevens, Donato's, Trixtons, and talked of the many others when displaying them. The American industry, as well as the global industry owes these people a lot. Bona note Bella Italia for now and benvenuti from USA to our guests coming from Torino.. by Joseph Faraldo

After two days on the beach under wispy clouds and 90 + degree heat the USA harness racing team was scooted off to the Padovanella Hippodromo in Padova Italy.   There USA team members Joe Faraldo and Alan Schwartz duked it out down the lane of this historic half mile track. When the dust and shouting was over Joe Faraldo emerged victorious. For Joe it was a return to the place where he got his 1st pari-mutuel win many years ago. Alan took the place dough and the Americans were on top.   In the next event Alan dropped his longshot into the two hole and though shuffled back a bit emerged on the top of the lane to garner yet another second. As a result the USA team had 64 points to Italy's 40. Truly rewarding but as Yogi Berra use to say: "it ain't over till it's over."are e Italians have 4 more races to close the gap and try to surge a comeback which they are very capable of doing. The cherry on top of the cake for team USA was seeing our dear friend Mauritzio Biasuzzi and his lovely wife Marinella and competing and chatting with the former World Champion amateur driver who has nearly 1,000 wins.   The competition moves on to Montecatini then Cesena Thursday and Friday.   by Joseph Faraldo

June 30, 2019 - Sunday’s GP Citta’ di Napoli (purse 154,000€, 2100 meters autostart) at Napoli Agnano racecourse saw an impressive harness racing performance by the 1.13.9kr timed Axl Rose (3m Love You-Linda di Casei-Uronometro) reined by trainer Alessandro Gocciadoro. He took the lead after 400 meters and maintained advantage throughout. Johan Sjoestrand owns the winner of 230,146€. Al Capone Stecca (3m Napoleon Bar-Ombretta Bar-Ganymede) was second, handled by G.P. Minnucci, and Alrajah One (3m Maharajah-Mariu’-Varenne) took third with Enrico Bellei up. The companion GP Citta’ di Napoli Filly (purse 88,000€, 1600 meters autostart) went to the 1.12.3kr timed Audrey Effe (3f Up And Quick-Simphony Effe-Going Kronos) reined by Andrea Farolfi. She held off second finishing Alouette and Amber Prad (3f Timoko-Sinead Prad-Love You) with Alessandro Gocciadoro aboard. Audrey Effe The prior day trotting action was at Roma Capannelle. The four year old mares contested the Pr. Antonio Carena (purse 88,000€, 1640 meters autostart) with pacesetting Zabriskie OK (4f Conway Hall-Georgia Pines-Pine Chip) holding on for the victory timed in 1.12.3kr. Roberto Vecchione teamed the Holger Ehlert trainee to her eighth win in 14 outings for 160,524€ earned. The threatening Zaniah Bi was a dq (finished second) for a brief miscue in the lane. That enabled Zima Jet (4f Igor Font-Rebecca Lag-Supergill) to be second and placed third was Zuid Afrika Jbay (4f Nad Al Sheba-Il Faut Le Faire-Kaisy Dream). Zabriskie OK, (inside) The companion for four year olds males was the Pr. Tino Triossi (purse 154,000€, 2100 meters autostart). The 1.11.3kr timed (a new record) winner was the very impressive Zacon Gio (4m Ruty Grif-May Glade Font SM-Yankee Glide) reined by Vecchione for trainer Ehlert. Zacon BI had defeated Face Time Bourbon in his previous endeavor. Zaccaria Bar (4m Ready Cash-Filanda-Lindy Lane) was second for Roberto Andreghetti and Zefiro d’Ete (4m Mago d’Amore-Isotta Fraschini-Angus Hall) took the third spot. Zacon Gio Thomas H. Hicks  

June 30, 2019 - Sunday’s 9th leg of the Trophee Vert series was the harness racing Grand Prix BVS held at Sable-Sur-Sarthe. 18 trotteurs contested this 2800 meter distance handicap events for a total purse of 45,000€. The 1.16.8kr timed victory went to Derby du Dollar (6m Rodrigo Jet-Magalie du Dollar) that overcame a 25 meter handicap teamed by Matthieu Abrivard. Sylvain Roger trains the eight time career winner in 35 starts for owner Thierry Coupireau. His career earnings advanced to 233,070€. Baladin Hongrois (8g Bon Conseil) overcame a 50 meter handicap to be second for trainer/driver Arnaud Desmottes. Berry Felin (8m Nahar de Beval) was third for Gilles Delacour, this one handicapped 25 meters. Braquo, Ali de Saint Marc, Citizen Kane and Absolut Perfect completed the top seven and earned checks. Click on this link for Replay The next leg of the Trophee Vert is July 14 at Royan-la-Palmyre. Thomas H. Hicks  

On a beautiful day at Kincsem Park (Budapest) this afternoon was held the 105 th edition of the Hungarian Trotting Derby and a host of other harness racing stakes events.   The big race today was the 105 th edition of the Magyar Ugeto Derby (purse 10,000,000Huf, 2500 meters autostart, four year olds, 12 starters).   The 1.18kr timed victory went to 12/1 Zsenoz (4f SJs Photo- Hitelezo-Witsends Speedy) that was bred by Kabala Menes Kft. Mitja Slavic teamed the winner.   Zapato (4m Frullino Jet-Diatomea PL-Friendly Face) was a game front end performer and held second with Imre Fazekas aboard for trainer Csaba Lakatos.   Third Was Zotta (4m Naglo-Gazza Jet-Supergill) with Veljko Mazsity up and Zseda (4f Frullino Jet-Filigran-Witsends Speedy) took fourth for Lakatos. Earlier, the Daniel Bisbac Memorial (purse 600,000aHuf, 1900 meters autostart) began the higher level action with a victory on the wire for 3.7/1 Timoteo (7m Abano As-Ghirlanda Aas-Diamond Way) clocked in 1.16.6kr. Veljko Mazsity teamed the winner to the narror win over Hennrik Ibsen AT (7m Worship) with Csaba Lakatos aboard and Lago d’Amore (5m Mago d’Amore) piloted by Mitja Slavic. Unique Vil (6m Conway Hall) was fourth for Roland Balogh. Timoteo There were two division of the Grof Esterhazy Miklos Moris Memorial, each for a purse of 1,800,000Huf and each raced over 1800 meters autostart. The open division for three year olds went to 1.18.9kr timed and 3.4/1 Aurum Ville (3g Calypso Capar-Izaville-Endless Sands).  Gyorgy Horvath teamed the Imre Fazekas trainee to the win for Silver & Black Racing. Second was Aronville (3g Calypso Capar-Saraville- What A Man) that had the lead early in the lane but yielded to his rival on the line. Imre Fazekas trains and reined Aronville. Aronville Third was Sabath Black AT (3m Amiral Sund-Simb Lorikeet-Pearsall Hanover) with Csaba Lakatos up. The battle of the five and six year olds under the same race name saw 11/1 Ujrazz! (6m Maximus Lindy- Gyorsulj!-Witsends Speedy) score timed in 1.15.7kr for trainer/driver Laszlo Koloizsi. Uran Lady (6f Maximus Lindy-Vas Lady-Endless Sands) was second for reinsman Veljko Mazsity and Urzulina (6f Maximus Lindy-Cicciolina Fling-Supergill) took the third spot with Csaba Lakatos aboard. This competitive event saw the winner gain the lead mid-stretch and gamely hold off her main rivals at the line. Ujrazz Veteran aged trotters then battled in the Jozsef Sinka Memorial (purse 1,500,000Huf, 1800 meters autostart) and the 1.15kr clocked victory went to 3.7/1 Aileron (7g Scarlet Knight-Quacelle-Jackpot du Relais) with Imre Fazekas at the lines for Prolongo Trading and trainer Joszef Rutkai. Aileron won for third time in five 2019 starts at Kincsem Park. Time To Say Goodbye (7m Maximus Lindy-Jungfrau-Valley Guardian) was a game second ahead of Alexander UR (5g Infinitif-Hoily TRFoily Fau-Egon Lavec) with Csaba Lakatos driving for trainer Rutkai. The Rutkai/Prolongo team sent out four of the eight starters in this fast class event. On the non-betting early races the two year old qualifiers continued. The impressive Coumba (3f Ready Express-Namibia-Varenne) scored timed in 1.22.4kr for traier Rutkai and pilot Imre Fazekas. This filly is by the recently retired International star Readly Express and was bred in by Menhammar Stuteri AB (Stockholm). She is worth consideration when the two year old racing begins.   Thomas H. Hicks

June 29, 2019 - Today’s Enghien harness racing action featured the Quinte+ Prix du Roussillon (purse 48,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 15 European starters). Conrad Lugauer was back in the winner’s circle with his trainee winner, 28/1 Calvin Borel (9g Super Photo Kosmos-Ulrika Furan), a horse he also owns, timed in 1.12.4kr. Lugauer won yesterday at Vincennes with Norton Commander. Calvin Borel now has life earnings of 249,476€. 3/1 Calou Renardiere (7g Lets Go Along) took second for Eric Raffin and 7.4/1 Crescendis (7f Querido de Blary) was home third with J.F. Senet the trainer/driver. 21/1 Vasterbo Grosbois and 18/1 Beloit Royal completed the top five. That set up an exact order Q+ payoff of 74,782.40€ for seven winning 2€ ticket holders. The Q+ pool today was 3,848,175€ and the total wagered on the race exceeded 8,172,000€. On the card was also the Prix de l’Observatoire (purse 52,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 11 European starters) that drew a fine field. The quick timed 1.10.9kr winner was 2.8/1 Violetto Jet (5m From Above-Nocciolara Jet) with Franck Nivard the pilot for trainer Philippe Billard. Violetto Jet The 23,400€ first money improved the winner’s career earnings to 141,492€. The 1.6/1 favorite Ghazi BR (5m Cantab Hall-Fiery Chip) was second with trainer Jean Michel Bazire aboard. 10/1 Docteur d’Erable (6g Ganymede) was third for David Thomain ahead of 3.6/1 Hambo Transs R (5g Love You) and 19/1 Ursa Caf (6m Toss Out). Thomas H. Hicks  

June 29, 2019 - Aetnos Kronos (3m Bold Eagle-Will If A Woman-Muscles Yankee) rallied late for a nose victory in the E3 Final at Eskilstuna, a harness racing Gr. I International event. Race timed was 1.11.8kr for the winner that now has a 3-1-4 slate in nine career starts. Orjan Kihlstom teamed the winner to this record performance for trainer Jerry Riordan and the Snyder-Aetnos ownership. First prize was 1,000,000SEK in this 2140 meters autostart contest. Aetnos Kronos trailed sixth for much of the way before making a three-wide surge on the backstretch of the second lap. Off at 3.7/1 he wore down the 4.8/1 odds leader Bythebook (3g Googoo Gaagaa-Stellar Value-Viking Kronos) reined by Erik Adielsson for trainer Svante Bath. Third went to 44/1 Zola Key (3g Zola Boko-Jennie J-Super Arnie) with Bjorn Goop up. Thomas H. Hicks  

In 2015 the Finnish breeder Saku Mikkola bought the mare Captivation in foal to Muscle Mass at the mixed sale in Harrisburg for $3,500. Back in Finland Captivation foaled a filly, who was called Mascate Match. She has turned out to be perhaps the best 3-year-old filly in Scandinavia so far. Saturday afternoon (June 29) Mascate Match easily won the filly division in the E3 final at Eskilstuna with a purse for the winner of $107,500. Trainer/driver Pekka Kopri controlled the race every step and Mascate Match was an easy winner of the 1-5/16 mile event in 1:56.2f (mile rate). This was her eight start and seventh win. The colt division went faster; in fact, the winner Aetos Kronos trotted to a world record. Aetos Kronos, sired by top French trotter Bold Eagle  and driven by Ôrjan Kihlström, fought bravely to beat the leader Bythebook (sired by Googoo Gaagaa) with Erik Adielsson to win in 1:55.3f (mile rate). While the mile rate is the same, as reported when Aetos Kronos won at Solvalla on May 26, in Europe records are measured by an average of 1,000 meters and Aetos Kronos lowered his own record from 1.11.9 to 1.11.8. Aetos Kronos is trained by Jerry Riordan and is the richest 3-year-old in Sweden so far with winnings of $270,000. by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent

June 28, 2019 - Today’s Paris-Vincennes harness racing featured Gr. III Prix Paul Delanoe (monte, 2850 meters, 90,000€ purse, European starters) went to 1.13.2kr timed and 9/10 favorite Clegs des Champs (7g Kegs du Cloc-Prosepine) with David Thomain in the irons. Thierry Raffegeau trains the J.Y. Roze owned gelding that won for the 16th time in 30 career starts. His life earnings are now 680,580€. 15/1 Vertige de Chenu (10g Lynx de Bellouet) was second with Eric Raffin up for trainer J.M. Baudouin. 37/1 Al Capone Jet (9g Jag de Bellouet) took third for Yoann Lebourgeois, 7.6/1 Daida de Vandell and 61/1 Baron du Goutier completed the top five. On the undercard was the Quinte+ Prix Eva (purse 45,000€, 2100 meters autostart, 16 starters) that went to 32/1 Vipera Killer G (5f Varenne-Uakland) in rein to Eric Raffin. Vincent Lacroix trains the winner for Scuderia Fioredigio. This mare now has career earnings of 105,398€. 5.6/1 Zoe Grif Italia (4f Ready Cash-One Dream Grif) rallied for second with J-M Bazire her pilot and trainer. 2.9/1 Hillary Queen (5f Quick Wood) took third for Robin Bakker and trainer Paul Hagoort. 4.8/1 Feerie Wood and 19/1 Voyage d’Amour rounded out the exact order top five that paid 49,019.60€ to seven holders of winning 2€ Quinte+ tickets. The Q+ pool was 3,437,733€ and 7,060,000€ was wagered on the race (all betting options). Vipera Killer Also on today’s card was the Prix Nemausa (purse 45,000€, 2150 meters autostart, 12 starters) and the 1.1/1 favorite Norton Commander (5m Gift Kronos-Push The Button) was victorious, teamed with trainer Conrad Lugauer. This 1.10.9kr timed winner increased his life earnings to 105,219€ with the victory. 18/1 Emphasis Turbo (5m Jet Fortuna) was second for Franck Nivard and 36/1 Fakir de Mahey (4m Reve de Baylev) was third with Yoann Lebourgeois aboard. 8.5/1 Inspector Bros finished eighth and 2.9/1 Follow Me was sixth in the competitive field. Norton Commander Thomas H. Hicks  

Wednesday’s Quint+ race of the day was at Vichy in the Pris du Bois du Bouc (purse 32,000€, 2950 meters, 14 starters) with the comfortable harness racing victory earned by 1.14.2kr timed and 2.4/1 odds Azur du Lupin (9g Lourmarin-Nouba du Hamet).   Pierre Callier teamed the G.R. Huguet trainee that overcame a 25 meter handicap to score for the 12 th time in 82 career starts now for 217,780€ in life earnings.   3.3/1 Black Rain (8f Niky) also overcame a 25-meter handicap to be second for Leo Abrivard. 20/1 Cesar la Mesange (7g Ready Cash) was third with Sylvain Perrasuin aboard.   8.9/1 Bernice du Loisir and 7.2/1 Athos Gabiniea completed the top five. The exact order Q+ ticket paid 2,627.00 to the 256 winning 2€ ticketholders.   The Q pool was 2,652,345€ and the total race pools exceeded 5,524,000€. The same day at Enghien was the Prix de la Place du Commerce (purse 39,000€, 2875 meters, 15 starters) with that victory earned by 1.13.4kr timed and 1.3/1 odds Espoir d’Avril (5g Ouragon de Celland).  Espoir d’Avril J.Ph. Monclin teamed the now five-time career winner in 23 starts. Everest de Blary and Enzo Dhelpa were a close second and third. The Q+ on Monday at Vincennes in the Prix Nunky (purse 41,000€, 2700 meters, 14 starters) with that victory to 7/1 Family Queen (4f Rocklyn-Queen Glory) clocked in 1.13.8kr. Eric Raffin teamed the Philippe Moulin trainee that Ecurie Victoria Dreams owns and Jean Philippe Dubois bred. She won for the fourth time in 25 starts now for 76,290€. 8.8/1 Flower Ball (4f Singalo) and 3.8/1 Foxy Lady (4f Tiego d’Etang) trailed the winner and 10/1 Fee de Lunojo and 27/1 Falling In Love completed the top five leading to an exact order payoff of 8,752.20€ to 56 winning 2€ ticketholders. The Q+ pool was 3,113,542 and the race pool total exceeded 6.136.000€. Watch for the 9 th leg of the Trophee Vert series on June 30 at Sable-Sur-Sarthe. This Grand Prix BVS will be raced on the grass over 2800 meters for a 45,000€ purse.   Thomas H. Hicks

The gallant Spanish trotting stallion Trebol (12m Hot Blues-Sally Can Wait-Prince Mystic) won his 47th straight harness race on Tuesday, this one at Ippodrom Torre del Ram in the Premi Tap Dance Kid (purse 500€, 2100 meters autostart,  International).    Trebol scored timed in 1.15kr with C.S. Fuster the pilot for Cuadra Sa Farola.   The victory was Trebol’s 11th win in 2019 and he now shows 79 career wins in 141 starts for 686,666€ in life earnings. Caviar d’Occagnes was second ahead of The De Chine.   Trebol’s career chart is shown below: Thomas H. Hicks  

Pompano Beach, FL...June 26, 2019...Amateur harness racing driver, well known farrier and USTA "tattoo artist" Jeff Schaefer took a bit of time off from his traditional work and led the American team of amateur drivers on an excursion to France as the world paid homage to the D-Day heroes of 75 years past. Schaefer, along with Tony Dinges, Ron Cusimano and Maurice Brooks, participated against amateur horsemen from France, Italy and Malta at two venues--the Hippodrome des Andelys and Lisieux--with Schaefer garnering a pair of wins. Schaefer lamented, "It was a unique experience, to say the least. We had a 'line start' in one race--which we all found difficult--as you have to go around on the track when the starter begins counting and get th 'three' and you can't go through the rope before it drops. Kinda crazy but we got through it! "At Lisieux, we had a 'gentlemen's start'--no starting gate and we raced clockwise, instead of how we race here in North America. "It was tough to get used to, but we got through it and, in fact, I did get a win there--by disqualification!" The group was given "superb" hospitality by Fredric Durville and Manon Delarette as they escorted us to several historical landmarks including Omaha Beach, the "D-Day" cemetery and the farm which is home to the grand trotter Bold Eagle. "We saw him in Paris," Schaefer said, "and, let me tell you, he is quite a horse--enough to give you chills just watching him perform." Schaefer and his wife, Maria, are also the Founders of Harness Life, a charitable organization that sells apparel with all proceeds going to the latest research on finding a cure for cancer. (Harnesslife.us) "Maria and I both had cancer and, when you are threatened by this disease, you just cannot sit around on the sidelines and let it conquer you. So, we decided to fight it on behalf of ourselves and the many that have been affected by it. There are new therapies developed all the time and we are determined to help conquer it!"   by John Berry for the Amateur Driving Club

YONKERS, N.Y. – Although Solvalla Travbana sat under gray skies that intermittently pelted the harness racing track with heavy rains on the last Sunday in May, the dreary and unseasonably cold weather couldn’t put a damper on the celebration of a newly crowned an Elitlopp Champion. About 20 minutes after the finish of Sweden’s biggest race, the crowd of more than 21,000 clapped and cheered in rhythm while upbeat victory music blasted over the sound system.  On the apron, fans leaned over the fence, craned their necks, and waded into puddles along the rail to catch a glimpse of Dijon as he made his way back to the stabling area from the winner’s circle.  The striking bay horse’s arrival was preceded by a wave of photographers and media that swarmed around him. With a bright pink blanket draped over his back and a matching wreath around his bowed neck, Dijon bore the unmistakable air of a champion among this entourage. Flanked on either side by majestic white horses whose riders bore the blue and yellow colors of the Swedish flags they hoisted into the air, Dijon was the hero of the day. As Dijon made his procession along the track, his trainer and driver, Romain Derieux, savored the moment. Midway down the stretch, Derieux climbed onto the seat of his sulky and stood proudly over Dijon as he absorbed the praises of the Swedish crowd. With the lines in his left hand, Derieux thrust his right fist triumphantly toward the sky and the crowd’s roar intensified. This moment of pure elation was a dream that Derieux thought was dashed a week earlier when Dijon drew post position eight in the second of two Elitlopp eliminations. Starting from the far outside while rivals like Aubrion Du Gers and Propulsion drew favorably, Derieux braced for the worst as he and Dijon faced the starting gate for the first time on Elitlopp Day in need of a fourth-place finish or better to advance to the Final. “I thought I had a good chance, but when I saw number eight, I thought I was finished. It’s so hard to qualify for the final,” Derieux said. “Before the race, in my head, I thought, ‘start slowly,’ because with the eight, it’s so hard to take the lead. I started slowly and waited behind. And just the last 300 meters from the finish, I thought if I was fourth in the first race, it’s OK and if I wasn’t, I would return next year.” Derieux took off the gate and raced in seventh early. As Propulsion and Milliondollarrhyme moved to the outside with 1,000 meters to trot, Dijon stuck to the pylons. Shooting the gap third on the inside behind Milligan's School, he advanced within 3 ½ lengths of leader Aubrion Du Gers with 800 meters remaining.  Dijon kept to the inside around the final turn and when Milligan’s School moved into the two-path turning for home, Dijon found room to advance. Derieux went to the whip and cracked the lines against Dijon’s hindquarters. Dijon extended and advanced into third to make the final at odds of 17-1. After drawing post five in the Group 1, 3,000,000kr final, Derieux was determined to give Dijon his best chance to win. Dijon does his best work on the front end and that’s where Derieux intended to put him. With the scratch of first elimination pacesetting winner Readly Express out of the post parade, Dijon’s job got easier. “I didn’t think about Readly Express before the start. For the final, in my head, I decided to take the lead and make a very fast start. Without knowing about Readly Express, it was the same for me,” Derieux explained. “I think (Dijon) is better when he takes the lead. He likes that and he likes to start very fast. It’s easy for him to take the lead because he’s very fast at the start.”  Dijon blasted off the wings of the gate and crossed over to the pylons in the first 100 meters. Although he got leg-weary in the stretch, Dijon never looked back. He held off a late rally from Aubrion Du Gers to win the Elitlopp Final by a neck. “The last 300 meters, I go fast because I feel Propulsion, who has a lot more speed, and Aubrion Du Gers is behind him,” Derieux remembered. “I asked Dijon and in the last 100 meters, Dijon was a little tired, so I had to be careful about that. The track is so hard, so he didn’t like that. The track on Saturday was perfect and on Sunday with the rain, it was very hard. “It was superb. Before the race, I thought if I was third or fourth, it would be good. To win, it was incredible.” After Dijon’s Elitlopp victory, Derieux is considering the stallion for North America’s biggest race for older trotters, the Yonkers International Trot, slated for October 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Although there are logistical issues to overcome, such as the mandatory quarantine for foreign horses, before he would be willing to accept an invitation, Derieux feels the $1 million race would fit Dijon well. Bred by Derieux’s father, Louis, Dijon is a 6-year-old son of Ganymède out of the Coktail Jet mare Sonate d'Aunou. Derieux and owner Mauricette De Sousa purchased Dijon as a 2-year-old. “It was perfect for all because my father is the breeder and one of my best owners is the owner,” Derieux said. “I’ve had Dijon since he was 2 years old. I started with him in the qualification and the first race and every time after. It was perfect for me as the trainer and driver.” Dijon won his first start in an 11,000€ overnight at Nantes with Derieux in the sulky November 29, 2015 and won for 35,000€ at Vincennes two starts later on Christmas Eve. After placing fourth and fifth in a pair of Group 2 races and galloping in the Group 1 Prix Comte Pierre de Montesson to start his 3-year-old campaign, Dijon rattled off three straight victories at Cagnes-Sur-Mer before returning to Paris to finish fourth in the Group 1 Prix de l'Etoile. Dijon’s breakout performance came in his 13th start in the Group 2, 120,000€ Prix Abel Bassigny at Vincennes November 7, 2016. Derieux sent Dijon to the top in the 2,175-meter stakes, but was confronted by favorite Django Riff, who took the lead heading into the backstretch. Derieux angled Dijon out of the pocket straightening away and Dijon wore down the 3-year-old Champion to score a hard-fought victory. “At this moment, I knew he was a special horse,” Derieux remembered. At 4, Dijon beat Django Riff again in the Group 2 Prix Gaston Brunet. He also traveled to Italy where he captured the Gran Premio Tino Triossi and Gran Premio Giuseppe Biasuzzi. At 5, Dijon took a pair of Group 3 victories in Paris and Enghien before beating Orlando Jet and Django Riff in the Group 1 Championnat Européen des 5 ans at Vincennes December 12, 2018. After his Elitlopp conquest, Dijon is 13-for-51 with 1,046,762€ earned.  In addition to his speed, Dijon excels on smaller tracks. Derieux sees this as an advantage should he receive and accept an invitation to the Yonkers International Trot. “I think he’s better on the small tracks. I went one time in Bologne, Italy and it’s an 800-meter track like Yonkers,” Derieux said. “He likes to take the lead, so it’s easier to take the lead on the small track than a track like Vincennes. It’s difficult at Vincennes to take the lead the whole race. He’s very fast at the start, so it’s easy for him to take the lead and on the small track, when you take the lead, it’s better.” Should Dijon come to the Yonkers International Trot this fall, he would be the third Eliltopp winner to cross the Atlantic for the historic stakes since its revival in 2015, joining Timoko and Ringostarr Treb.  The $1 million Yonkers International Trot will be held October 12 at Yonkers Raceway. Invitations will be officially extended to participants by the Yonkers race office as the race draws closer. 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

Saturday’s Kincsem Park featured Jungfrau DIJ (purse 600,000Huf, 1900 meters autostart) went to 1.18.3kr timed and 1.8/1 odds Vakarcs RG (5m Racino-Victory Va Bene-Diablo Va Bene) with harness racing trainer Goran Zolnaji aboard.   This was his third 2019 victory. Zero di Jesolo (4m Frullino Jet-Diva di Jesolo- Sugarcane Hanover) was second handled by Roland Balogh and Unreal Boss (6f Maximus Lindy-Light Lady-Baltic Bet) took the third check with Veljko Mazsity at the lines.   On the undercard the Gazai Handicap (400,000Huf, 1900 meters autostart) saw 17.6/1 Asterix Evo (7g Broadway Hall-Rompaway Quincy-Tabor Lobell) scored timed in 1.17.1kr with trainer Lazslo Kolozsi the pilot. On the pre-race qualifying program two more two year olds made the grade, both trainer by Imre Fazekas. Blue Moon (2m Calypso Capar-Norah Jones-Zador) scored with Andrea Nagyvary driving and Bold Lady (2f Napoleon-Elegant Lady-Mill H) was a close second with Imre Fazekas aboard.   Thomas H. Hicks  

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