The World According To Dean: Ya gotta love these cold-blood trotters in Scandinavia

Published: August 30, 2008 11:00 am EDT

They race forever and become real favorites of the public. They might be slower than Standardbred trotters, but they certainly develop a fan following.

None more so than the vaunted Jarvsofaks, the 14-year-old Swedish cold-blood trotter who seemingly doesn't know how to lose a race. Or at least it seemed that way for many seasons.

In 2004, he was unbeaten in 16 starts. The next year he won 16 of 18. In 2006 he won 22 straight races. Last year it was 19 of 22.

Time is catching up to the old boy. He's only started six times this season with four wins. Aches and pains, which is understandable after 202 career races, are affecting his ability.

Owner-trainer-driver Jan-Olov Persson says that his goal in keeping Jarvsofaks racing is to top the record number of wins of 184 set by the Norwegian legend Alm Svarten. Jarvsofaks now has 176 wins.

I'll admit it will be bittersweet for me if he breaks Alm Svarten's record because the Norwegian star was the first good cold-blood I saw, that being two decades ago on the day that Mack Lobell won his first Elitlopp. Carrying my North America prejudices to Sweden with me on that trip, I looked at Alm Svarten and thought, "This sucker out to be pulling a plow, not a sulky."

As I learned more about cold-blood, I realized just what a champion Alm Svarten was and that a good horse is a good horse is a good horse---of any breed. I once visited the owner of Alm Svarten in Norway and his home was quite literally a museum to showcase his champion's accomplishments. (It's not easy to find a place to put the trophies and ribbons a horse wins in 184 career victories.)

Jarvsofaks has been a champion year after year in Sweden and his best time is only around a 2:05 rate, but he's earned the equivalent of approximately $3.2 million and I suspect that's paid for his hay, oats, and water.

Jarvsofaks goes for victory 177 today at the Bersaker track in Sweden. He's the favorite, of course, a role that comes naturally to him, but the "young" mare Lundas Emelie, "only" a 9-year-old, might give him some competition.

He might also get a stern test from his contemporary Nordgubben. Both Jarvsofaks and Nordgubben are 14 years of age and that's a major reason why they're so well known to racing fans.They seemingly race forever.

Jarvsofaks isn't as dominant as he once was, and one reason is that his own offspring as demonstrating great trotting talent and they are following in papa's hoof prints. From his 472 registered foals in Sweden, he's sired 10 horses with earnings of 1 million Swedish kronor (about $165,000) or more and they should be around for many more years.

Jarvsofaks is a trotter, but not a Standardbred. As I said earlier, however, a good horse is a good horse. And any horse that wins 176 races in 202 starts is indeed a very good horse.

Dean Hoffman, one of North America's most prolific harness racing journalists and member of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame, offers SC website readers his weekly look at international standardbred racing through his eyes.

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