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Johan Palema Leads Svanstedt Trio

Published: June 30, 2021 10:02 am ET

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Only one of the eight finalists in Friday’s $500,000 MGM Yonkers Trot was winless last season, but that horse — Johan Palema — experienced a transformation during the winter. When he returned to training for Ake Svanstedt, the three-year-old male trotter was no longer difficult to control, but much better to drive.

Johan Palema, with Yannick Gingras in the sulky, won one of last week’s two Yonkers Trot eliminations, beating stablemate Ambassador Hanover by a head in 1:54.1 at Yonkers Raceway. The colt is a nose from being undefeated in three starts this season.

“Last year, he was pulling all the time,” Svanstedt said. “When the gate opened, you couldn’t do anything else than leave fast with him. Now, he’s nice. We have trained him behind horses and raced him from behind. We couldn’t do that before because he was pulling so hard, he was so grabby. He’s a totally different horse this year.”

Johan Palema, who sold for $40,000 under the name Slob Kabob at the 2019 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, is owned by co-breeder Bender Sweden Inc. He is by Bar Hopping out of Sobti Hanover, who is a half-sister to near-millionaire Spellbound Hanover, the dam of 2016 Trotting Triple Crown winner Marion Marauder. The Yonkers Trot is the first leg in this year’s Trotting Triple Crown.

Despite not winning a race last year, Johan Palema earned $86,651 thanks to picking up a check in all six of his starts. His most lucrative payday came when he finished third in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.

The colt is one of three Svanstedt finalists in the Yonkers Trot, with Ambassador Hanover and Mon Amour, and will leave from post 3 with Gingras.

“I think he is the fastest one of the three horses,” Svanstedt said. “He can leave very fast. Maybe he can go in the front (Friday), but it’s up to Yannick, whatever he wants to do. He drove him for the first time last week and I told him he can be very grabby if you leave with him. But Yannick said he had no problem with him and that he was nice to drive.”

Ambassador Hanover, who will have Svanstedt driving, will start Friday from post one. The Chapter Seven-Angel Eyes Hanover colt has won five of 10 races and earned $221,519 for owners Ake Svanstedt Inc., Order By Stable, Howard Taylor, and Judy Taylor.

All five of Ambassador Hanover’s victories have come on the New York Sire Stakes circuit. He finished second to Ahundreddollarbill in the Empire Breeders Classic on June 18 at Vernon Downs. Ahundreddollarbill is unbeaten in four races this season after winning his Yonkers Trot elimination by 1-1/2 lengths over Mon Amour in 1:54.2.

“Ambassador is getting sharper for every race he is doing,” Svanstedt said. “I’m satisfied with him. He handles the short track good. He can leave fast and should get a good position here.”

Mon Amour, trained last year by Per Engblom, has won three of 11 starts and $77,750. He had never raced on anything other than a one-mile oval before his Yonkers Trot elimination around the half-mile track at The Hilltop. All three of his wins have come on the New Jersey Sire Stakes circuit.

Andy Miller will drive Mon Amour from post four on Friday. The Muscle Hill-Mind Meld colt is owned by Al Libfeld, Marvin and Lynn Katz, and Sam Goldband.

“I was surprised he handled the short track so good,” Svanstedt said. “He left fast, and he came home good also.

“We were lucky in the draw. We have good positions with all three of them and now we will see what happens, if they can beat Ahundreddollarbill. It looks like he is the horse to beat.”

All three of Svanstedt’s Yonkers Trot finalists are also Hambletonian eligible.

In addition to the Yonkers Trot, Yonkers on Friday hosts the first leg of the Pacing Triple Crown, the $500,000 MGM Grand Messenger Stakes for three-year-old pacers, as well as the $150,000 Park MGM Pace for three-year-old female pacers and $150,000 New York New York Mile for three-year-old female trotters.

Racing begins at 7:15 p.m. (EDT) Friday at Yonkers.

Following is the field for the Yonkers Trot.

Race 8 – $500,000 MGM Yonkers Trot final
(PP-Horse Name (Driver/Trainer)
1-Ambassador Hanover (Ake Svanstedt trains & drives)
2-On A Streak (Daniel Dube/Luc Blais)
3-Johan Palema (Yannick Gingras/Ake Svanstedt)
4-Mon Amour (Andy Miller/Ake Svanstedt)
5-Ethan T Hanover (Jason Bartlett/Per Engblom)
6-Ahundreddollarbill (Andrew McCarthy/Tony Alagna)
7-Arnold N Dicky (Dexter Dunn/Chuck Sylvester)
8-In Range (Tim Tetrick/Marcus Melander)


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