by Thomas Hedlund
Italian trainer Alessandro Gocciadoro will hardly forget his racing year 2018. The yellow-suited trainer and driver has presented his horses all over Europe this season and in Sunday’s Derby in Italy, Gocciadoro almost got the jackpot.
But it could have been even better. Gocciadoro himself drove Zidane Grif with whom he early found the front position in the 1.3-mile race.
The Italian Derby ($1,176,289) is the richest stakes race in Europe and early indications were that Gocciadoro might have back-to-back victories in the prestigious race — and those predictions came true. He had four trotters in the Derby and Zidane Grif seemed to have everything under control when the field turned for the back stretch with a half-mile to go. But at that moment, Zidane Grif made a break and disappeared, a fact that opened up the race considerably.
Ze’Maria (Muscle Hill), trained by Gocciadoro, did the heavy work three wide during the last kilometer, while Zlatan (Napoleon Bar) got a more smart way to the reach home stretch. Driver Giampaolo Minnucci, driver of Italian and European champion Varenne, found third over with Zlatan and could use the 3-year-old’s speed perfectly in the Naples track’s last 200 meters. Zlatan caught stablemate Ze’Maria at the wire and came home in equaled stakes record of mile rate 1:56.1.
Gocciadoro celebrated the victory in the Derby and, earlier the same day, claimed the three first positions in the $297,600 Oaks del Trotto ($297,600) for the 3-year-old mares.
In Oaks, Gocciadoro drove Zabriskie Ok (Conway Hall) to the front at early stage and in the home stretch, he noted that Zealand As (Donato Hanover) and Zona Ok (Varenne) took the places behind the winning leader.
In Gran Premio Freccia d’Europa ($103,500), Arazi Boko (Varenne) was runner up behind Super Star Reaf (Varenne) and both horses are trained by, a certain Alessandro Gocciadoro.
In total on the day, Gocciadoro’s horses earned 895,000 euro (approximately $1,052,800). It was a demonstration of power in the Italian harness racing business.
Field set for the best 3-year-olds in Sweden
The $454,756 Svenskt Travkriterium and $227,378 Oaks are scheduled at Solvalla racetrack this Sunday and this year’s edition of the Kriterium has qualities to become a spectacular show. The races, contested at 2,650 meters — 1.6 miles — are for 3-year-old trotters are shaping up to be a thrilling story after the eliminations the previous week.
Merited top horses like Attraversiamo, Betting Gangster will face rookies like Cab Lane, Campo Bahia, Inti Boko and several others that impressed in the eliminations.
Sire Muscle Hill and trainer Timo Nurmos are the dominating names in this year’s Kriterium. Four is the number of participants for both of them.
In the Oaks, Johnny Takter, who earlier this year announced that he would retire from the sport, has the favorite in A Sweet Dance, who has won nine of nine races this year. A Sweet Dance is one of the reasons that Takter has not completely disappeared from the sport and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the duo enter the winner’s circle on Sunday afternoon.
Svenskt Travkriterium — 2,640 meters
Horse (sire) – Driver (Trainer)
1. Forfantone Am (Muscle Hill)
Örjan Kihlström (tränare: Roger Walmann)
2. Betting Gangster (Going Kronos) Carl Johan Jepson (Jerry Riordan)
3. Attraversiamo (Kiss Francais) Erik Adielsson (Svante Båth)
4. Campo Bahia (Muscle Hill) Conrad Lugauer
5. Cab Lane (Muscle Hill) Jorma Kontio (Timo Nurmos)
6. Staro McMillan (Raja Mirchi) Steen Juul (Sören Kolberg (a)
7. Inti Boko (Chocolatier) Johnny Takter (Timo Nurmos)
8. Danilo Brick (Orlando Vici) Björn Goop (Timo Nurmos)
9. Global Wise Guy (S.J.’s Caviar) Rikard N Skoglund (Timo Nurmos)
10. Address Book (One Too Many) Johan Untersteiner
11. Borups Senator (S.J.’s Caviar) Christoffer Eriksson (Tomas Malmqvist)
12. Rudisha (Muscle Hill) Robert Bergh
Svenskt Travoaks — 2,140 meters
Horse (sire) – Driver (Trainer)
1. Bechamel (Pastor Stephen)
Johan Untersteiner (Daniel Redén)
2. Staro Miami (S.J.’s Caviar) Mika Forss (Ari-Pekka Pakkanen)
3. Conrads Rödluva (S.J.’s Caviar) Örjan Kihlström (Daniel Redén)
4. Zeta Kronos (Donato Hanover) Ulf Ohlsson (Reijo Liljendahl)
5. Felicity Shagwell (Maharajah) André Eklundh
6. A Sweet Dance (Maharajah) Johnny Takter (Helena Burman)
7. Musique d’Inverne (Un Mec d’Heripre) Erik Adialsson (Stig H Johansson)
8. Indiana Boko (Yankee Glide) Björn Goop (Timo Nurmos)
9. Activated (Jocose) Carl Johan Jepson (Fredrik Wallin)
10. Global Vintage (Love You) Jorma Kontio (Timo Nurmos)
11. Adorable Lady (Zola Boko) Pasi Aikio
12. Ti Punch Broline (Muscle Massive) Kenneth Haugstad (Roger Walmann)