‘God Of Thunder’ Joins International Trot Lineup

Aldebaran Zeus
Published: June 28, 2023 07:34 pm EDT

The second name to join the $1 million MGM Yonkers International Trot has a god-like name of Greek origins, but he is most certainly of Australian descent. The connections of Group 1 winner Aldebaran Zeus has received and accepted an invitation to the 1-1/4-mile worldwide trotting contest on Sept. 9 at MGM Yonkers Raceway.

"I'm so thrilled to be invited and we've all jumped at the chance to go," said owner-breeder Duncan McPherson.

"I was so thrilled to see what Just Believe did in Sweden and in my role as the recruiter for the Yonkers Raceway, I've had my eye on Aldebaran Zeus for some time," said Klaus Koch, referring to Just Believe's start in the Elitloppet at Solvalla, as well as other Swedish stakes in May and June.

With Just Believe performing well on the international stage, it bolstered the stock of Aldebaran Zeus, who defeated the European traveller in March at Menangle.

An 18-time winner in his homeland over distances ranging from 1,609 meters (one mile) to 2,760 meters (1.7 miles), Aldebaran Zeus has earned just under $420,000 under the care of trainer Brent Lilley. While born in Australia, the five-year-old has international bloodlines as a son of U.S. sire Muscle Hill and the Swedish dam Zoia Boko.

The route to MGM Yonkers Raceway from Australia is certainly a long one as Aldebaran Zeus will go from Melbourne to Hong Kong to Anchorage to Chicago before ultimately making the trip to New York after a 10-day quarantine. Despite the daunting itinerary, Lilley is not worried.

"He's handled his interstate and New Zealand travel without missing a beat, so I expect he'll handle the flights and quarantine in Chicago without issue. We'll time it for him to peak on the day," said Lilley.

Aldebaran Zeus will seek to become the first native of Australia to win the MGM Yonkers International Trot, which began in 1959 and has continued each year with the exception of 1994 and a 1996 to 2014 hiatus. If successful, it would certainly bring increased awareness to trotters from Down Under.

"As we saw recently with Just Believe's campaign in Sweden, our trotters here in Australia are more than competitive in this company, and the world is now watching with a different level of expectation," said McPherson. "These types of opportunities don't just happen. I appreciate the work that goes on behind the scenes and thank HRA [Harness Racing Australia] for its continued efforts to promote our industry in new markets."

The MGM Yonkers International Trot will be part of a blockbuster program that includes a pair of six-figure Invitationals and the $1.8 million New York Sire Stakes Day of Champions to honour the best two- and three-year-olds in the state. Post time for the special card is noon.

(Yonkers Raceway)

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