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Top Swedish trotter Readly Express, who won the Prix d’Amerique after a battle with Bold Eagle, will not race in the Elitlopp at Solvalla later this month. Readly Express trained Monday, but his trainer Timo Nurmis found that he will not be able to get the horse in shape to go two heats on the same day, and therefore he informed Solvalla that Readly Express is out of the race. Readly Express has not raced since his win in the Prix d’Amerique. In the meantime he has done some stud duties, but just until last week he was the favorite by all bookmakers who have odds on the Elitlopp. Then the rumors began that there was doubt about his participation in the Elitlopp. So far Solvalla has nine trotters ready for the Elitlopp; the field will be at 16, which is divided into two eliminations. Ready for the Elitlopp are: Uza Josselyn - Denmark Bold Eagle – France  Propulsion - USA Maori Time – New Zealand Ringostarr Treb - Italy Pastore Bob – Sweden  Nadal Broline – Sweden  Volstead - USA Dreammoko – France by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Newsroom Senior Correspondent

On May 9 Australasia’s fastest ever trotter Maori Time will leave Australia on her quest to win world trotting’s sprinting Holy Grail, Sweden’s Elitloppet. Let no-one be under any illusion of the challenge that Maori Time is confronted with for qualification alone for the Final in the same day heats/final affair would be a magnificent achievement. Maori Time, who is trained by Australian-based New Zealander Brent Lilley and will be driven by Todd McCarthy, is fresh off a stunning trial at Maryborough last Sunday when she was beaten a head in 1:55.9 by the pacer The Sparrow Hawk. Only six trotters from Australia and New Zealand have ever been invited to the Elitloppet – Petite Evander (NZ bred), Pride of Petite (NZ trained), Special Force (NZ bred & trained), Lyell Creek (NZ bred & trained), A Touch of Flair (Australian bred) and Sundons Gift (NZ bred & Australian trained) – with the American bred pocket rocket Pride of Petite, trained and driven by Mark Purdon, being the only one to qualify for the final finishing fourth in her heat and sixth in the Final. The quest for the Elitloppet by horses from the Southern Hemisphere commenced with Petite Evander way back in 1977 and the complete rundown of our challenges follows: PETITE EVANDER (NZ) – Trained by Eddie Dunnigan (USA) 1977: Seventh in heat 1978: Sixth in heat – WON Consolation (no longer run) PRIDE OF PETITE (US) – Trained by Mark Purdon (NZ born & based) 1996: Fourth in heat – Sixth in Final SPECIAL FORCE (NZ) – Trained by David McGowan (NZ born and based) 1999 – Seventh in heat LYELL CREEK (NZ) – Trained by Tim Butt (NZ born and based) 2001 – Fifth in heat A TOUCH OF FLAIR (AUS) – Trained by Noel Daley (USA based, Australia born) 2007 – Eighth in heat SUNDONS GIFT (NZ) – Trained by Chris Lang (Australian born & based) 2009 – Sixth in heat Another champion trotter with NZ roots that raced in the Elitloppet was Grades Singing (granddaughter of NZ FFA winner Le Chant) who won a heat of the 1987 Elitloppet and ran third in the final to Napoletano. Australia’s champion trotter Knight Pistol was never invited to the Elitloppet but stunned the Europeans in winning an European Grand Circuit event by defeating Norwegian champion Gentle Star in the Harley Davidson Trot at Stavanger, Norway in 1997. Breeder and owner Fred Crews is looking forward to “one of the most exciting weeks of our lives” and was even cheeky enough to suggest that “we are already planning our next trip with Maori Law (Maori Time’s half brother)”. Maori Time’s career will conclude this year, however, when and where is up in the air, according to Fred. He said, “No decision has been made beyond her run in the heat. There are a couple of races two weeks later that may suit her, but that decision will be made on Monday May 28. Who knows, if she wins the whole thing I might leave her there to defend her title.” Fred went on to say, “The Inter Dominion is not a real possibility as I believe the final will be over 2760m. If she does race again in Australia the Bill Collins Trotters Sprint could be her last run. In the meantime I have to study up on all the available stallions.” The Elitloppet consists of two eight horse heats with the first four progressing to the Final and thus far eight horses have been invited – Maori Time (Australia) 1:51.5, Europe’s first 1:50 trotter Bold Eagle (France) 1:50.0, 2017 Swedish Horse of the Year Readly Express (Sweden) 1:52.5, Uza Josselyn (France) 1:53.6, 2017 Elitloppet runner-up Propulsion (US bred-Sweden trained) 1:49.6, 2018 Olympiatravet winner Ringostarr Treb (Italy) 1:49.8 (placed), 2018 Lotteria winner Urlo dei Venti (Italy) 1:53.6 and 2018 Finlandia AJO winner Pastore Bob (Sweden) 1:53.8. What a time awaits Fred, Brent, Todd and Maori Time with Australian fans being glued to their televisions, tablets and mobile phones late on Sunday May 27 to cheer on their challenge for the Holy Grail. John Peck

May 7, 2018 - The 2018 Elitloppet harness racing lineup now includes Pastore Bob, Urlo dei Venti, Ringostarr Treb, Maori Time, Propulsion, Uza Josselyn, Bold Eagle and Readly Express On Saturday the V75 Gold at Orebro went to 4.7/1 Volstead (7m Cantab Hall-Madame Volo-Yankee Glide) with owner Stefan Melander up, and quick timed in 1.10kr over the 1609 meters autostart distance. Purse to the winner was 200,000SEK and this USA bred, by Arden Homestead and A.J. Skoglund, now has 21 wins in 62 career outings.  Volstead might get an Elite race invite. He defeated 3.9/1 Charrua Forlan (8g Up Front Larry) reined by Hans Owe Sundberg and 37/1 Deuxieme Picsous (11m In Love With You) handled by Bjorn Goop On the undercard was a Silver V75 victory by 2.8/1 Michelangelo As (7g Allstar Hall-Harmonic As-Mack Lobell) driven by Orjan Kihlstrom to a 1.12.6kr score worth 150,000SEK to the winner and raced over 2100 meters autostart. Aged mares battled in the Enoch Karlssons (purse to winner 125,000SEK) and the 1.11.7kr timed winner over 2100 meters autostart was 3.9/1 Anna Mix (8f Ludo du Castelle-Ires-Tenor de Baune) with Kim Eriksson up. Franck Leblanc owns the Sophia Aronsson trainee. In Toto Sund and Darling Mearas trailed Anna Mix. Thomas H. Hicks

Young gun Aussie driver Todd McCarthy has already started doing homework. McCarthy is still pinching himself after confirmation he will take the reins on flying Aussie mare Maori Time against the world’s best trotters in the iconic Elitlopp Trot in Stockholm, Sweden later this month. “It’s an amazing opportunity. I follow the big international races and I’ve always been in awe of how incredible the Elitlopp looks. Now I’m going to be part of it,” he said. “I took some time over the weekend to go back and loo at some replays of the heats and finals. I can’t wait to get there.” Owner Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley opted for McCarthy as the driver thanks to his one and only steer on Maori Time at Menangle. It resulted in a breathtaking front-running win in a record-smashing 1min51.5sec mile in the Group 1 Trotters’ Mile back on February 24. “We got along well that day and she showed the sort of time she can run. She felt magic,” McCarthy said. “I know how hard a challenge this will be. These are the best trotters in the world, many of them in their own backyard, and in one of the great races. “Every horse in the series has to be a star in its own right just to make it that far. “Realistically, if she can finish top four in her heat and make the final she will have done an amazing job.” The Elitlopp is somewhat unique in that two heats are held early in the day and the first four home in each heat contest the final just two hours later. “If she arrives there safe and sound and can show the form she did at Menangle, running the two races in a day won’t bother her,” McCarthy said. Maori Time showed she was over a bout of atrial fibrillation when she sparkled in a Maryborough trial last Sunday. “The trial was brilliant. She went her last mile in 1min55.9sec and home in 56sec. She’s off to Sweden,” Crews beamed. The Elitlopp is run at Stockholm’s Solvalla track on Sunday, May 25.   Adam Hamilton

Maori Time is the fifth entrant into Sweden’s famed Elitloppet as Australia bursts back on to harness racing’s European stage. The much-anticipated invitation was received overnight, which will see Maori Time leave Australia’s shores on May 9 to contest the May 27 Elitloppet at Stockholm’s famed Solvalla race track. Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said the invitation was a great result for connections and the Victorian trotting gait. “It is a terrific feather in the cap for all to have a horse considered good enough to make that trip,” Mr Kelly said. “This is not a small adventure to be undertaken by connections and by Maori Time herself.” Owner and breeder Fred Crews and trainer Brent Lilley have both long awaited the invitation, which was pursued soon after Maori Time produced an Australian record smashing 1:51.5 mile rate when saluting at Menangle on February 24. She will be the first Australian-trained horse to make the trip since Sundons Gift ran sixth in his heat in the 2009 Elitloppet. “It’s a very short and elite list,” Mr Kelly said of Australia’s Elitloppet entrants. “It’s the most famous race in Scandinavia if not Europe. “Fans from all over attend the day, they paint their faces and dress in their traditional grab to make the most of the day. The horses are very well known in that part of the world and have their own fan clubs.” Maori Time is only the fifth horse to have been invited for the May 27 race day, which features two heats into a final. The eight-year-old by Pegasus Spur out of Sundonna joins other invitees Readly Express (Sweden), Uza Josselyn (Switzerland), Bold Eagle (France) and Propulsion (Sweden). Her exposure on the world stage further reinforces Australia’s trotting wealth and strengthens European bonds. “It’s important not only to be sharing our racing product to Europe but that people realise the bloodstock talent that exists in Australia and that Europeans may want to invest in Australia as well,” Mr Kelly said. “It is a great opportunity to showcase some of our bloodlines. The wagering on our racing is bubbling along really well in Europe and those in Sweden are really interested in our product.” Trots Media - Michael Howard READ: ELITLOPPET A TRIP OF A LIFETIME, FRED CREWS TOLD THETROTS.COM.AU

Veteran Timoko (10m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant) blasted to the front from post five and scored easily by three lengths for Bjorn Goop and trainer/owner Richard Westerink in today’s Benders Elitloppet Final (3SEK million to the winner, 1609 meters autostart, eight starters). He was clocked in 1.09kr (1:51.02) at 31/1 to pin a stunning defeat on Propulsion and Resolve at 16/1 and 11/1 respectively. Heavily backed Bold Eagle was fourth and Nuncio was fifth. Neither had anything left and had no excuses. Timoko was simply the best this day as he recorded career victory 34 in 98 starts for 47,248,058SEK (that is US$5,432,318 at today’s conversion rate). Quite a feat for quite a horse!!! Timoko Elimination 1 Bold Eagle (6m Ready Cash-Reethi Rah Jet-Love You) easily took the first Benders Elitloppet 2017 elimination by six lengths timed in 1.08.4kr (mile rate 1:50.05) for driver Franck Nivard, trainer Sebastien Guarato and owner Pierre Pilarski. The winner sat alongside pacesetter Delicious, in the death seat, with Resolve second over until top of stretch when the Eagle motored away under little urging. Bred by Jean Etienne Dubois the Eagle was off at 3/2 odds and bested 9/1 Resolve (6m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) handled by Ake Svanstedt with third to 13/1 DD’s Hitman (6m Donato Hanover-Deedee’s Destiny-Muscles Yankee). Veteran Spring Erom (12m Gentle Star-Springflickan-Prince Mystic) landed fourth for Christopher Eriksson. Bold Eagle Elimination 2 Elimination #$2 went to home town favorite Nuncio (6m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) with Orjan Kihlstrom up for trainer/owner Stefan Melander. Propulsion was a game second for Johan Untersteiner, beaten half-length in the 1.10.1 clocked event (1:52.79). Timoko (10m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant) held third after traveling wide all the way for Bjorn Goop. The fourth spot to the final went to In Vain Sund (5m Revenue-Staro Yasmine-Supergill) for Erik Adielsson. Nuncio Bold Eagle will get first choice in the final post position by virtue of the fastest elim time. The big crowd of over 30,000 is enjoying the action on this warm day. Thomas H. Hicks

Freehold, NJ --- As John Campbell prepared to head to Sweden for his final Elitlopp, he admittedly knew little about the horse he is driving in Sunday’s elite harness racing invitational for older trotters. But he did know the most important thing. “The only thing I know is that he’s inexperienced for this level of competition, but he does have a lot of speed and ability,” Campbell said about lightly raced 5-year-old Tjacko Zaz. “He’s got the fastest race time in Sweden this year. As a driver, that’s what you’re looking for, something that can go fast. And he definitely can. I’ll certainly get a lot more information from the trainer when I get there.” Tjacko Zaz has raced only once this year, winning in 1:51.4 (mile rate on a five-eighths-mile track). The horse is a son of U.S. stallion Crazed out of the Angus Hall mare Kinoras Zaz. He is trained by Timo Nurmos and will start from post four in the first of Sunday’s two Elitlopp eliminations at Stockholm’s Solvalla Raceway. The top four finishers from each elimination return later in the day for the final. Campbell, who will hang up his colors in July to take over the role of Hambletonian Society president and CEO from the retiring Tom Charters, won the 1988 Elitlopp with Mack Lobell. Campbell last competed in the event in 1996, winning an elimination with Triple T Storm and finishing fifth in the final. Three years ago, Campbell returned to Solvalla for a legend’s race and was reunited with Mack Lobell for a special ceremony at the racetrack. In addition to Sunday’s Elitlopp, Campbell will drive in six other races that day at Solvalla. “I’m really looking forward to it,” Campbell said. “It’s obviously my last time driving in Sweden, so there’s that. Any time you get to go to the Elitlopp it’s special. And they’ve treated (my wife) Paula and I so well every time we’ve gone to Sweden that you just can’t help but look forward to it. They’ve treated us extremely well over the years.” Campbell has won 10,659 races in his Hall of Fame career and earned a record $299.71 million in purses. Campbell’s win with Mack Lobell in the Elitlopp ranks among his greatest memories. “The first thing that comes to mind is the crowd, the fans, just how electric and enthusiastic they are,” Campbell said. “It’s more than a horserace, it’s a sporting event. “Winning it with Mack, he’s the only 4-year-old to have won it, which is something that is very special in my career. Just the fact Mack did that, I look back in almost astonishment that he did. It’s one of my best memories.” Campbell can recall all the details from the day. “That one is easy to remember, both heats,” Campbell said. “He had an outside post (seven) in the first race and they were trotting out of there a hundred miles an hour so I just took him off the gate. They go so slow the middle half and when they started to slow down Mack really got on the bit and I wasn’t going to be able to keep him in where I wanted. I flipped him three wide (prior to the second turn) and he made the front and won easily from there. “I remember one of the Swedish journalists said ‘All we ever heard about was how fast Mack Lobell could leave and he didn’t leave at all.’ I said, ‘Well, you just stick around for this second heat.’ And he just went right down the road and won. He left the gate really hard the second heat, and he had to because there was so much early speed. Once he got control of the race he did everything else on his own from there.” This year, French star Bold Eagle is the favorite to win the Elitlopp. Bold Eagle is in the first elimination, with Campbell and Tjacko Zaz, and will start from post five. The elimination also includes U.S. representative Resolve, who will leave from post eight with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt, as well as several other horses that launched their careers in the States: DD’s Hitman, Delicious, and Cruzado Dela Noche. Online oddsmakers have Bold Eagle as the favorite in the elimination, followed by Delicious, Resolve and DD’s Hitman. Returning Elitlopp champion Nuncio, who Campbell drove during a multiple-stakes-winning career in the U.S., is a slight favorite in Sunday’s second elimination. Up And Quick and formerly U.S.-based Propulsion also are receiving strong consideration in the division. Bold Eagle is the favorite to win the final, followed by Delicious, Nuncio, Resolve, Propulsion, and Up And Quick. Campbell might have a long shot in the Elitlopp, but he is thankful for the opportunity to drive in the event and focused on the task at hand. “Before the race, you’re going to take a look around and take it all in, for sure,” Campbell said. “Once you get in the post parade you’re not soaking in anything. You’re concentrating on the race. It’s a totally different mindset once you go to the post parade. “Just to have a horse in the Elitlopp this year is really special because I didn’t expect it,” he continued. “When I spoke to them about going over, I was going to drive in some other races and make some appearances, so this is a bonus getting into the Elitlopp.” by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications

May 25, 2017 - Elitloppet weekend is something special, highlighted by the May 26 Elitauktion, May 27 Sweden Cup and May 28 Elitloppet, surrounded by partying, networking and exploring in a superb harness racing environment. Below you will find catalog and program links. The yearling sale is interesting to me as it includes offspring of Bold Eagle, Ready Cash, Timoko, Bird Parker, Muscle Hill and the memorable Googoo Gaagaa. Click here for the Catalog. Click here for the Auction Company site that will have live feed. Example catalog page follows. There are 94 head in the book and six outs so far. The race program links follow. Enjoy!!! Click here for the Sweden Cup Day May 27 Click here for the Elitloppet Day May 28 Thomas H. Hicks

May 23, 2017 - Superb harness racing, festivities and partying await those attending the 2017 Elitloppet at Solvalla Racecourse. 16 Elite Race entrants include some of world’s best – Bold Eagle, Timoko, Resolve, Up and Quick among them. Of interest to me is the breadth of pedigree and variance in earnings. However, anything can happen in a horse race and even recent form can be reversed, up or down. Bold Eagle has been lightly raced since the Vincennes Winter Meet and has been standing stud, Nuncio has seemingly been off form in his last three starts. Resolve has raced once and qualified once off a long layoff. Delicious has been undefeated over two years, albeit racing few times against generally less than top competition. Timoko has be grinding on in his ten year old campaign, racing consistently but perhaps not in his past peak form. It’s anybody’s guess – make your wagers and enjoy. Elimination 1 Horse – Driver – (Trainer) – Country – Pedigree – Career Earnings in SEK (conversion to USD .115) 1. Spring Erom – Christoffer Eriksson (Dan Widegren) – SWE Gentle Star - Springflickan - Prince Mystic; 7,583,341 2. D.D.’s Hitman – Ulf Ohlsson (Petri Puro) – FI -Donato Hanover - Deedee's Destiny - Muscles Yankee; 2,724,569 3. Delicious U.S. – Örjan Kihlström (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Cantab Hall - Ipsara LB - Lemon Dra; 6,481,572 4. Tjacko Zaz – John Campbell (Timo Nurmos) – SWE - Crazed - Kinoras Zaz - Angus Hall; 970,381 5. Bold Eagle – Franck Nivard (Sébastien Guarato) – FR - Ready Cash - Reethi Rah Jet – Love You; 31,194,709 6. Cruzado Dela Noche – Björn Goop (Stefan Melander) – SWE - Muscle Massive - Alidade - Credit Winner; 4,900,971 7. Takethem – Steen Juul (Steen Juul) – DE - From Above - D'Cherie - New Quick; 2,430,668 8. Resolve – Åke Svanstedt (Åke Svanstedt) – USA - Muscle Hill - Anikawiesahalee - Credit Winner; 20,837,506 Elimination 2 Horse – Driver – (Trainer) – Country 1. Up and Quick – Franck Nivard (Franck Leblanc) – FR - Buvetier d'Aunou - Fichtre - Quiton du Coral; 19,425,650 2. Twister Bi – Christoffer Eriksson (Jerry Riordan) – IT - Varenne - Lorraine Bi - Lemon Dra; 2,872,055 3. Propulsion – Johan Untersteiner (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Muscle Hill - Danae - Andover Hall; 7,282,195 4. Nuncio – Örjan Kihlström (Stefan Melander) – SWE - Andover Hall - Nicole Isabelle - Lindy Lane; 27,948,230 5. In Vain Sund – Erik Adielsson (Daniel Redén) – SWE - Revenue - Staro Yasmine – Supergill; 3,243,197 6. Timoko – Björn Goop (Richard Westerink) – FR - Imoko - Kiss Me Coulonces - And Arifant; 44,173,058 7. Dante Boko – Adrian Kolgjini (Lutfi Kolgjini) – SWE - Going Kronos - Margherita Rose - Abo Volo; 5,672,776 8. Elian Web – Janne Soronen (Katja Melkko) – FI - Like A Prayer - EL Dolly - Conway Hall; 3,551,213   Saturday’s Sweden Cup, often referred to as the junior Elitloppet, presents three eliminations each worth 100,000SEK to the winner and a final for 600,000SEK first prize. Notables in this group include BBS Sugarlight, Charrua Forlan, Vasterbo Highflyer (two straight wins in fast-class company), Harry Haythrow, Cool Keeper, Ringostarr Treb, Volstead, Thai Broadway and Buzz Mearas. The excellent Saturday program also includes the Lady Snarts for mares worth 200,000SEK first money. Patricia Hastrup, Wild Honey, Treasure Kronos and Shadow Gar face the starter in this 1640 meter autostart event. The Solvalla racing weekend also features the Gr. II International UET Masters Harper Hanovers, worth 500,000SEK to the winner, and raced over 3140 meters voltstart. The top entrants, all handicapped 40 meters, are Sauveur, Rod Stewart (Jerry Riordan trainee and racing well of late) and El Mago Pellini. Legendary trainer Anders Lindqvist starts Butler (by Ready Cash) with a 20 meter penalty. To make the weekend more enjoyable is the appearance of legendary reinsman John Campbell, down on seven mounts Elitloppet day including the Elite Race. Participants Elitloppet 2017 Thomas H. Hicks

He started out his career racing in the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit and now J A T O has received and accepted the biggest invitation of his life. He is going to race in Sweden at Solvalla Racetrack the day before the Elitlopp Day this coming Saturday, May 27. He will be competing in what is called the "Little Elitlopp" for horses that nearly were invited for the big event. The Little Elitlopp is also raced in two heats.  The five-year-old gelding by Big Apple Deli from the Credit Winner mare, Highwaytoheaven, is currently being trained and will be driven by the world renowned Swedish horseman, Ake Svandstedt. J, A T O is co-owned by the Our Horse Cents Stable of Melville, NY with Rossie Smith of Greenville, NY. Longtime owner, Eugene Kurzrok, of The Horse Cents Stable, confirmed this morning that J A T O is leaving today for Sweden. “He (J A T O) will be racing in an undercard event for a purse of $180,000,” Kurzrok said. “and this is the first time I have ever had a horse race in Sweden. This is very exciting; the whole sport of harness racing is exciting. Unfortunately, I will not be going over to watch him race.” A career winner of $157,808 and a record of 1:54 at age four, J A T O has come a long way since the NYSS Fair Circuit. This year he already has two wins, three second place and two third place finishes in just seven starts. He recently won at the Meadowlands, beating Melady’s Monet in 1:54.1 and the week prior, won at Yonkers Raceway in 1:56.3. Growing up, J A T O was the stablemate with the top trotter, Dayson, and now travels to Sweden with the great Resolve as his new stablemate. At age two and three, J A T O was a terror on the New York Sire Stakes Fair Circuit, winning 25 of his 27 starts. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

Millstone Twp, NJ - The celebrated Elitlopp, in Solvalla Stockholm (Sweden), is one of harness racing's most exciting events in world. Offered through a raffle to benefit the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF), this fabulous trip includes a 5 day - 4 night stay for two at a 4-star hotel in the heart of the Stockholm, a welcoming dinner and get together Thursday night, sightseeing on Friday and Saturday morning, entrance to the Solvalla Racetrack Saturday and Sunday, and an English speaking tour guide during your entire stay.   Past winners rave about it being a once in a lifetime trip.   Raffle tickets are $25 each and the drawing is April 20th at noon; the winner does not need to be present.   Tickets may be purchased by contacting, or by phone at 732-446-4422.   In its 28th year, SRF is different. Dedicated to Standardbreds only whether young, aged, or injured; SRF has more than 200 hundred under its full care, follows up more than 3,000 adoptions, and is the permanent home for more than 140 undoptables.   SRF's Elitlopp Trip Drawing In a Few Days   Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101, Millstone Twp., NJ 08535

Millstone Twp., NJ - The celebrated Elitlopp in Solvalla Stockholm (Sweden) is one of harness racing's largest events for those who love the sport of racing. This fabulous trip is a fundraiser for the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) through its annual raffle, tickets are now available.   The trip begins with an airfare voucher valued to $1500 and includes a 5 day - 4 night stay for two at a 4-star hotel in the heart of Stockholm, and includes a welcoming dinner and get together Thursday night; sightseeing on Friday and Saturday morning including a trip to Menhammer Stud Farm where many famous stallions have stood, and to the Elite Yearling Sale; entrance to the Solvalla Racetrack on Saturday and Sunday for the big race, and an English speaking tour guide during your entire stay. The dates are Thursday-Sunday, May 25, 2017-May 28, 2017   Raffle tickets are $25 each and funds raised will be used to provide hay and grain, medical, farrier care, rehabilitation, vaccinations, and other related needs for more than 200 trotters and pacers currently in SRF's care, all in need of homes.   Tickets should have arrived by mail to all SRF's supporters and are also available for purchase. The winning ticket will be drawn on April 20th, 2017 at noon; the winner does not need to be present. Help with selling tickets is also much appreciated. Please use the contact information noted.   SRF, now in its 28th year is different, as the mission is dedicated to Standardbreds exclusively; young, aged, injured, neglected or abused; is the permanent home for 140 unwanted trotters and pacers; and provides lifetime follow-up so no horse is ever at risk again.   SRF asks for the support of all whose lives have been touched by these horses and racing, whether through the Elitlopp raffle, Win*Win program, horse sponsorship, planned giving, or through an endowment. For more information please contact Tammy at, or by phone at 732-446-4422, or see SRF's website at     Standardbred Retirement Foundation, 353 Sweetmans Lane, Suite 101, Millstone Twp., NJ 08535  

Floyd, not Pegasus, and his North Belle Vernon outrider made a once in a lifetime trek to Sweden. Even someone whose Swedish language ability barely extends beyond “smorgasbord” can recognize the word “elite” in Stockholm’s Elitloppet, one of the top harness racing races in the world. A Mon Valley equestrian who participated in the event made history in May when she became the first American outrider at Elitloppet. Racing animals can make unpredictable moves and an outrider is to be ready to intervene, if necessary, to rescue horses and humans. “In Sweden they don’t have them,” says outrider Wendy Ross, 32, of North Belle Vernon, after she returned from her first-ever trip to Scandinavia. Swedes may be unfamiliar with outriders, but Ross has long been aware of the Elitloppet’s series of eliminations that has been held annually at Stockholm’s Solvalla Racecourse since 1952. “I’d known about it my whole life,” Ross says, referring to it as Elitlopp, a nickname common in harness racing circles. Dave Palone, a regular at The Meadows Racetrack in Meadow Lands who was inducted into the harness racing Hall of Fame in 2010 and holds the record for the most wins of any driver worldwide, has raced at Elitloppet, a three-day event. “I never realized how big it was over there until I was there myself,” he says. “There were 50,000 to 60,000 fans at the Elitloppet, and it reminds me a lot of our Little Brown Jug (an annual race in Delaware, Ohio). They cheer you when you come out in the post parade and each horse has his own fan base, with flags and signs everywhere. It’s almost like a Super Bowl atmosphere. We could learn a lot from the way they promote the races over there.” Heats during the modern Elitloppet take place over three days, and for the invitational “it is really not the driver that is invited, it is the horse,” according to Palone. “The trainer chooses the driver. There are so many great European drivers that it is a real honor to be able to go over there and represent the United States. They invite one horse from the United States that is at the top of his game at the time of the Elitloppet.” Ross calls Elitloppet “the biggest race in the whole world as far as trotters go. I’m not really good with words, but it was a pretty big deal. There were 30,000 people there. It was epic. We were introduced at every race. All I could understand was when they said, ‘Wendy Ross and her horse, Floyd.’ They were very welcoming to us.” The welcome began in a big way. Floyd was one of six horses booked on a Boeing 747 for the trip. Ross did not see him board on the East Coast because her flight was on a Sunday night and Floyd’s plane departed Monday morning during the last full week of May. Ross and 4,000 other people turned out to watch the equines’ plane land in Sweden, and she walked him from a portable stall to a barn on the airport grounds. Because this year’s Elitloppet may have been the first time Swedes saw an outrider in action, Ross wanted to make sure she and Floyd made a good impression. Ross and horse were decked out in American patriotic colors. She paired bright blue trousers and a shirt with stars and stripes. Floyd’s hand-tailored back pad was trimmed in red and blue. “I make them different for every event I do or every track I’ve worked,” Ross says. A horse faces no language barrier, and once on the track, Floyd “took to it like he’s been there a million times,” Ross says. “He’s a pro. We’re basically just out there for safety. We had to grab a horse who was running away a little bit.” “It takes a really special ability,” Ross says of Floyd’s skills. “Only one in 40 horses could do this. It was very rare. An outrider’s horse has to be very athletic and be able to handle situations. He did it for 19 years.” According to the Standardbred Canada website, the winner of the Elitloppet final was, by a quarter-length, Nuncio, bred by Pennsylvania’s Russell Williams and owned by Stefan Melander’s Stall TZ. Nuncio “was a $7,000 purchase (who) has gone on to a tremendous international career.” The purse was $892,000. The return trip from Stockholm was bittersweet for Ross because, once back in the United States, she and Floyd, 23, parted ways. “He’s retiring to a really nice farm in New York with an 8-year-old girl who absolutely adores him,” Ross says. “I cried. When we said goodbye, it was pretty sad. I talked to him. I was there a half hour with him in the field. It was really hard. I’m going to go see him. We’ve been together for 10 years and we got to do some really cool things. It was the end, but it was fine. There aren’t too many words for the friendship and the partnership we had. There is no comparison.” Their trip abroad together was a once-in-a-lifetime event now that Floyd is officially retired. “He’s been with me the longest and he’s definitely my favorite horse that I’ll ever have, for sure,” Ross says. By Barbara Miller Reprinted with permission of the site

Watch final heat at Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane) prevailed gamely after a parked out journey for Orjan Kihlstrom and owner/trainer Stefan Melander to capture the Gr. I International 2016 Benders Elitloppet (3SEK million to the final winner (€323,100), 1609 meters autostart) narrowly holding off Resolve (5m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) by half-length, that one driven and trained by Ake Svanstedt for owner Hans Enggren. Pacesetter Un Mec d’Heripre (8m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling-Buvetier d’Aunou) was a gutsy third, a length back, for Jos Verbeeck and trainer Fabrice Souloy. Elim winner Timoko rallied from between horses to be fourth for Bjorn Goop but he never threatened the top three. Propulson ended fifth and Oasis Bi sixth. Royal Fighter left quickly from post six, reached the pocket, and could not close, ending seventh with Billie de Montfort at the end. Nuncio was the wagering favorite, off at 0.5/1 on the ATG system and 2.1/1 on Fintoto. Resolve was 1.96/1 on ATG and 4.56/1 on Fintoto. Fractions again were quick early and late (1.07.6kr at 500 meters, 1.09.6kr at the 1000) with the finish timed in 1.09.2kr (mile rate 1:51.34). All starters were timed in 1.09.9kr or better. Nuncio completes the fabulous day with a career slate of 31-13-2 in 46 starts, good for 21,597,726SEK earned. Pinkman wins for Takter/Gingras Pinkman (4g Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster-Angus Hall) with Yannick Gingras up for trainer Jimmy Takter reached the front before the first quarter, rated the pace albeit parking out Twister Bi (4m Varenne-Lorraine Bi-Lemon Dra), and put that one away at top stretch to win the Gr. II Tommy Hannes for four year-olds (500,000SELK to the winner, 1609 meters autostart, 10 starters).   Uncle Lasse (4m Donato Hanover-Solveig-Yankee Glide) rallied for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer/owner Stefan Melander to fall short by a head. The race was timed in 1.09.9kr (1:52.47 mile rate). Divisionist (4m Andover Hall-Only Lonely-Yankee Paco) rallied to be third for Jorma Kontio and trainer Melander. Fractions were quick early and late with Pinkman getting some soft time mid-race (1.07.8kr at 500 meters, 1.10kr at the 1000 mark).   Pinkman was off as even-money favorite with Uncle Lasse at 2.3/1 and Divisionist at 14/1. Pinkman now has a career slate of 18-5-2 in 28 starts for earnings of 21,382,178SEK.   A race earlier the Gudrans Lopp (100,000SEK to winner, 2140 meters autostart) went to 1.13.4kr timed New Muscle As (4g Muscle Mass-New Circle As-Malabar Man) for Bjorn Goop and trainer Ulf Stenstromer. The roan colt Antonio Tabac (4m Crazed-Grace Tabac-Tap In) pulled pegs pocket late to be second beaten half-length with Erik Adielsson up for trainer Stig H. Johansson.   Timoko takes first elimination division   Timoko (9m Imoko-Kiss Me Coulonces-And Arifant)  took the first elim of the 2016 Benders Elitloppet gate to wire for Bjorn Goop and trainer Richard Westerink, his third straight victory and 30th lifetime in 85 starts for earnings of 37,756,090SEK.   Away from post four Timoko quickly took the front and held off parked out Volstead until top of stretch when Resolve (5m Muscle Hill-Anikawiesahalee-Credit Winner) rallied three wide from fifth for Ake Svanstedt with Propulsion (5m Muscle Hill-Danae-Andover Hall) following that one. Both closed stoutly with Resolve a half-length from the leader at the wire and Propulsion another half-length behind. Oasis Bi enjoyed a pocket position and did not threaten,   Fractions were sharp (1.07.8kr at the first 500 meters, 1.09.2kr at the 1000) and finished at 1.09.1kr for the 1609 meter one-mile test with 250,000SEK to the winner, Oasis Bi and Volstead rounded out the top five and Your Highness was scratched. The winner was off at 1.9/1 on Fintoto and 4/5 on the PMU network.   Early Solvalla action on this 2016 Benders Elitloppet day saw Wild Honey (4f Cantab Hall-U Wanna Lindy-SJ’s Photo) take the Rune Stolts for mares (250,000SEK to the winner, 1609 meters autostart) timed in 1.10.9kr for Orjan Kihlstrom and trainer Daniel Reden. The mare was parked without cover and eased to the line ahead of Tunika (4f Zola Boko-Verona de Ling-Super Arnie) and driver Bjorn Goop.   A race later the 2016 undefeated (five of five now) Makethemark (3m Maharajah-Global Naughty-Conway Hall) took the Hakan Wallner Memorial (300,000SEK to the winner) for driver Ulf Ohlsson clocked in 1.11.8kr. Parked without cover the dimunitive colt closed steadily to capture the win from Mindyourvalue WF (3m Hovding Lavec-Mind Your Manners-Dahir de Prelong) with Ake Svanstedt driving for trainer Robert Bergh. The winner now has 11 wins in 13 starts lifetime. Un Mec d'Heripre wins second elimination division  Respected FR speedster Un Mec d’Heripre (8m Orlando Vici-I Love You Darling-Buvetier d’Aunou) sat outside leading Royal Fighter (8m Varenne-Froken Julie-Supergill) with Jennifer Tillman up for Per Eriksson, avoided traffic when Call Me Keeper went offstride on the backstretch, and moved alongside and then eased past Royal Fighter to the lead at top stretch.   Favorite Nuncio (5m Andover Hall-Nicole Isabelle-Lindy Lane), with Orjan Kihlstrom up for Stefan Melander, surged into contention from fifth but could not overtake the Jos Verbeeck reined, Fabrice Souloy trained Un Mec d’Heripre that held by a length timed in 1.09.3 kr (fractions 1.08.8kr at the 500 meter mark and 1.09.6kr atg the 1000). Billie de Montfort (5f Jasmin de Flore-Quismy de Montfort-And Arifant) was fourth for David Thomain and trainer Sebastien Guarato.   The winner was off at 8/1 on the PMU network while Nuncio was the favorite at 0.5/1 on PMU and 9/10 on Fintoto. Driver Verbeeck has enjoyed a successful weekend so far after winner yesterday with Bird Parker.   Post positions for the final with 3SEK million to the winner follow: 1. Un Mec d’Heripre 2. Timoko 3. Resolve 4. Nuncio 5. Propulsion 6. Royal Fighter 7. Billie de Montfort 8. Oasis Bi by Thomas H. Hicks, for Harnesslink    

Four ASVT Trottex events showcased Solvalla’s Wednesday harness racing program with the quality starting of the weekend’s Elitloppet festivities. Two harness racing three year-old filly contests each were worth 120,000SEK to the winners and each was raced over 2140 meters autostart.  The first went to even-money favorite Rhyme Broline (3f Celebrity Secret-Candelia-Armbro Goal) for driver Erik Adielsson and trainer Svante Bath. Timed in 1.15.3kr this one recorded her first 201y6 win in this her second appearance. SDghe now has a 5-1-0 slate in eight starts. 1.6/1 Ultra Bright (3f Zola Boko-Patina-Viking Kronos) took second for Fredrik Persson with 12/1 Gloria Boko (3f Zola Boko-Song Glider-Windsong’s Legacy) third for Per Lennartsson. The second filly batch went to 1.14.3kr timed and 9/10 odds Flo Jo Keeper (3f Broad Bahn-Elizalleeper-Credit Winner) with trainer Bjorn Goop driving, her second win in three 2016 and career starts with one second place finish. 40/1 Looks Likeaqueen (3f Varenne-Make Approach-Viking Kronos) finished second for trainer/driver Ake Lindblom with 105/1 Bear Abiba (3f Muscles Wiking BR-Martini Bar-Malabar Man) home third for trainer/driver Stefan Olsson. The colts battled also over 2140 meters autostart for first money of 120,000SEK. Even-money choice Han Herred (3m Infinitif -Donna GT-Dungeness) opened colt action with a 1.14.5kr victory with Erik Adielsson up for trainer Stig H. Jonhansson and Stall Inox. This one now shows a 3-1-0 slate in four 2016 and career appearances. 1.9/1 Gareth Boko (3m Make It Happen-Vanilla Boko-Pine Chip) took second for Per Lennartsson, also trainer. 4.9/1 Man At Work (3g Ken Warkentin-Illustre November-Viking Kronos) was third for Bjorn Goop. The second colt set went to 7/10 choice Diamanten (3m Adrian Chip-Jata Kall-Ata Star L) with Ulf Eriksson up for trainer Robert Bergh. This winner is a perfect two for two in 2016 and undefeated in five career outings. 4.1/ MT Le Bron (3g Quite Easy-Rydenc Denise-Dahir de Prelong) was next for Ake Lindbloom and 25/1 Havbergs Knight (3m Scarlet Knight-Havbergs Fifi-Jobie Tempest) was third for trainer and reinsman Fredrik B. Larsson. At Aby DD’s Hitman (5m Donato Hanover-Deedee’s Destiny-Muscles Yankee) scored timed in 1.13.3kr to earn 70,000SEK first money in a 2140 meter autostart Femarlingslopp. British Steel was second for Johnny Takter (this one a 5g Kadabra-Come Home ET-Yankee Glide) and 22/1 Wishing Boy (5g ENS Snapshot-Valg Cowboyland-Cooperfield) was third for Steen Juul and trainer Gordon Dahl. Thomas H. Hicks

Stefan Melander has trained some great trotters during his harness racing career, including 2006 Prix d’Amerique winner Gigant Neo and 2001 Hambletonian winner Scarlet Knight, but he has never enjoyed a relationship with a horse in quite the same way as with Elitloppet favorite Nuncio. Nuncio, who is also owned by Melander, is the 2-1 favorite according to online oddsmakers to win Sunday’s (May 29) prestigious Elitloppet, an invitational for older trotters that features an international lineup, at Solvalla Raceway in Stockholm. Nuncio, a 5-year-old stallion who was a star in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3, has won all four of his races this season and 14 of 17 starts since arriving in Europe last year. He finished third in last year’s Elitloppet. “Last year he was just great; he came to Sweden in good shape,” Melander said in an e-mail translated by associate Simon Hagen. “Jimmy Takter and Jim Oscarsson (who each trained Nuncio in the U.S.) did a great job with him. He trained very good so we decided to participate in the Elitlopp last year even if I think it was a little bit too early. He arrived to my farm in February so he just had two races before the Elitlopp. “This year I have been able to get him in good shape before the race. He has grown enormously much. Last year I saw that he probably needed a year to be perfect, which I think he is now. He is much bigger and stronger.” Nuncio is a son of stallion Andover Hall out of the mare Nicole Isabelle. He raced primarily for Oscarsson at age 2 and solely for Takter at age 3, when Nuncio and regular driver John Campbell won the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot and finished second in the Hambletonian. For his career, Nuncio has won 30 of 44 races, never finishing worse than third in any start, and earned $2.18 million. “I am really impressed that he makes everything so easy,” Melander said. “He is so special, too. He knows that he is best in our stable but he is not cocky or anything. He is so smart. I have trained Gigant Neo and Scarlet Knight, but this horse is so special he actually understands you when you talk to him sometimes.” Melander, who is a renowned photographer as well as a horseman, won the 2010 Elitloppet with Iceland. He grew up less than a mile from Solvalla Raceway and took photos in the stables when he was a teenager. “If I could win again with Nuncio it would be just great,” Melander said. “Iceland was a really good horse but cannot compete with Nuncio. I train them different. Nuncio just wants to race with all my other horses so I have to drive him for himself on the straight track. Usually we have up to 30-35 horses in every set.” Nuncio trained Thursday and will jog and walk in the days prior to the race, Melander said. “He loves to go out and jog,” Melander said. “We also ride him and he really loves it.” Melander has been Nuncio’s regular driver, but will give the lines to Orjan Kilhstrom for Sunday’s Elitloppet. Kilhstrom won last year’s Elitloppet with Magic Tonight and the 2003 edition with From Above. “Orjan Kilhstrom is a better driver than me,” Melander said. “I think sometimes that I am a little bit too kind to (Nuncio). I actually wanted John Campbell to drive him, but his daughter would be getting married this weekend, which I understand is more important.” Nuncio races Sunday in the second of two Elitloppet eliminations. The top four finishers from each division advance to the same-day final. The first elimination features the next three best bets to win the race according to the oddsmakers: 2014 champion Timoko (7-1), formerly U.S.-based Propulsion (9-1) and U.S. representative Resolve (10-1). Timoko, who finished second in this year’s Prix d’Amerique, has won three of six starts this season. The 9-year-old stallion has earned $4.43 million in his career. Five-year-old Propulsion, who raced for trainer Tony Alagna in the States, is 3-for-3 this year. Resolve is trained and driven by two-time Elitloppet winner Ake Svanstedt. “This year almost all the horses can actually win this race,” Melander said. Nuncio isn’t Melander’s only shot at winning the race. He also sends out Volstead in the first elimination. Volstead is a son of stallion Cantab Hall out of the mare Madame Volo. He was purchased as a yearling for $50,000 at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale. He is a full brother to stakes-winner High Bridge and his family also includes stakes-winners Missy’s Goalfire, Have You Ever, Lassie’s Goal, and Lear Jetta. “I actually think Volstead has a good chance to be among the (top) three,” Melander said. “His last performance he was outstanding. If we take it to the final and get a decent position, I would almost be worried if I was Nuncio.” Sunday’s card at Solvalla also features appearances by two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pinkman, French Laundry, and Uncle Lasse in a Group 2 event for 4-year-old trotters. Yannick Gingras will drive Pinkman. Also, millionaire Wild Honey competes in a Group 2 event for 4-year-old female trotters. by Ken Weingartner, Harness Racing Communications 

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