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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Iceland Wins Elitloppet

Once again, the Elitloppet has been a disappointment for North American trotting interests.  Lucky Jim finished last in his elimination while Enough Talk and Define The World were sent packing in their elimination.  However, Swedish pride rides high with the Elitloppet being won by Iceland in a wire to wire effort, driven by Johnny Takter, in 1:53.2, defeating defending champion Torvald Palema.

As for Lucky Jim, if you watch his elimination, there is no need to be embarrassed by his performance.  Considering the horrible post position, he raced very well; seemingly being a threat at one point in the mile before finally retreating.  With a better post position, he certainly would have advanced to the final.  The winner, Ilaria Jet, won his elimination in 1:54.2.

Define The World impressed me in his elimination of the Elitloppet.  He was driven aggressively to be involved the whole mile but unfortunately, he got boxed in the stretch as he had plenty left.  With a better trip, he would have advanced, if not won his elimination.  As for Enough Talk, my suspicion is the last two races in Europe took a toll on him as he was never a factor in the race.  A little R&R is in order upon his return to North America.  The race was won by last year's champion Torvald Palema in 1:53.2.

It has been twelve years since Moni Maker's 1998 victory in the Elitloppet.  Since 1962, when the Elitloppet adopted the 1609 meter (mile) distance, there have been only five North American winners of the famed race: Elma (USA-1965); Fresh Yankee (USA-1969); Mack Lobell (USA-1988); Billyjojimbob (CAN-1992); Moni Maker (USA-1998).  Is it our North American-centric thinking which makes us think our horses are better than the European horses or are the European top trotters just better than ours?

One race in Europe and/or North America is not a true test as bad luck can eliminate any possibility of winning one particular race.  What is needed is a true championship series of three races which alternate between North America and Europe to determine who is the best.  Of course, purses would need to be large enough to make it worthwhile for owners to ship their horses.  To encourage owner participation, a bonus could be paid out to the horse with the best overall finish that competes in all legs.  Not only would a series like this provide a good marketing opportunity, but as racing becomes more global, it would encourage wagering from foreign locations.

Of course, racing has more immediate problems.  Hopefully, the time will come when such a series is possible.

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