Elitlopp Favourites Gearing Up For Big Day
Howard Taylor has been advised to go to the Elitlopp and focus on the experience rather than the race. As Sunday’s trotting classic at Sweden’s Solvalla Raceway draws near, such an attitude might be more challenging
Taylor’s Buck I St Pat drew post No. 1 in her Elitlopp elimination race and was made the favourite to win both her opening heat and the final.
“People have told me, don’t go for the horse, go for yourself. It’s the greatest experience you’ll ever have,” said Taylor, who owns the six-year-old Buck I St Pat with Edwin Gold, Abe Basen, and her breeder Ron Fuller. “I’m going over there for the experience, but I really think she’s going to win.
“The more I read about it, the more excited I get. It’s almost like the Olympics, where you’re representing your country. This race is not front page sports news over there; it’s front page news.”
Buck I St Pat is bidding to become the 14th female trotter to win the Elitlopp and the first since Moni Maker in 1998. The ladies dominated the event in the 1960s, winning seven of eight years from 1963 through 1970.
“I wouldn’t be going if I didn’t think she could win,” Taylor said. “We’re a little nervous, but more looking forward to it. Everything is looking good.”
Taylor, an attorney and owner of Carmine’s Creole Café in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, bought Buck I St Pat in 2005. He soon brought on board Gold and Basen, with whom he developed friendships over the years at Garden State Park.
Buck I St Pat was voted last year’s best older female trotter by the U.S. Harness Writers Association, despite missing the final six months of the campaign because of a tendon injury. She won 10 of 14 races, earned $411,724, and became history’s fastest female trotter on a five-eighths-mile track when she won the Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah’s Chester.
This year, Buck I St Pat has won three races in a row since beginning the season with a third-place finish in the Classic Series at Dover Downs. She has won 34 of 60 races and $1.06 million in her career. She is trained by Ron Burke and will be driven by two-time Driver of the Year Tim Tetrick, who has won 11 of his 13 starts with Buck I St Pat.
“She’s had her (injury) problems, but we did everything right and gave her all the time in the world,” Taylor said. “Knock on wood; she’s sounder now than she’s ever been.”
The Elitlopp is contested with eliminations and final on the same afternoon. It will be Buck I St Pat’s first time racing twice on the same day.
“I think it will be an advantage,” Taylor said. “She’s never done it, so you don’t know, but she’s just never tired. They’ve never seen a horse that has her style of racing. She has instant speed and she can trot a turn as fast as the straightaway. She can do anything.
“She doesn’t know the end of a mile. I’ve watched every race in her life and in her whole career she’s only been passed once, and that was as a three-year-old. It’s an amazing thing. She’s been a dream come true.”
The field for Buck I St Pat’s elimination, in post position order, is: Buck I St Pat, Jaded, Nimrod Borealis, Lisa America, Commander Crowe, Torvald Palema, Igor Font and Sundons Gift.
Enough Talk Can Walk The Walk
This time, Peter Kleinhans need not worry whether Enough Talk has the class to compete with the world’s best trotters. His only concern is Enough Talk’s current form. The six-year-old gelding, which has battled foot woes this season, is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial on May 16 at the Meadowlands.
Enough Talk will compete in Sunday’s Elitlopp at Solvalla Raceway in Sweden. Last year, the unheralded gelding finished third in the prestigious event and went on to become history’s fastest trotter (1:49.3 at Colonial Downs) and a divisional champion.
“I’m not as optimistic as last year because of the issues that have been going on, but, on the other hand, I also now know he can keep with the best horses,” said Kleinhans, who trains and co-owns the horse with Jerry Silva. “Last year, I thought maybe he would be outclassed. I just wish his last race had been better, that’s all.”
Enough Talk, who will be driven by Luc Ouellette, drew post No. 3 in his elimination and was made the favourite over Russel November, who will start from post seven.
“I don’t think we’re going to do anything much different from last year,” Kleinhans said. “A lot of people talk about removing the shoes for the racing over there. But I’ve talked to a few people who are knowledgeable about that kind of thing, and they’ve said if he’s going well, they wouldn’t change it.”
Kleinhans has scouted the European horses on YouTube. Other top contenders for the Elitlopp title are Buck I St Pat, also from the U.S., along with Igor Font, Russel November, Nimrod Borealis and Offshore Dream.
“I’m not too worried,” Kleinhans said. “(Enough Talk) usually comes through when you need him to.”
The field for Enough Talk’s elimination, in post position order, is: Triton Sund, Ghibellino, Enough Talk, Offshore Dream, Sahara Dynamite, Scarlets Aino, Russel November and Oiseau de Feux.
(Harness Racing Communications)