by Thomas Hedlund
Finnish top trainer Tuomas Korvenoja won the Kriterium in his home country for the sixth time on Saturday afternoon.
His 3-year-old weapon this time is named Lewis Ale (Andover Hall) and this talented trotter came to the Kriterium ($259,000) with five wins in six attempts. Lewis Ale was the third choice in the race, which tells something about the quality of the 3-year-olds in Finland this year.
Timo Nurmos trained Marrakesh (5-for-5 before the Kriterium) and Graceful Swamp (13 wins of 14 starts this year prior to the Kriterium) were both serious candidates for the victory according to the bettors, but with all the facts on hand, Lewis Ale is probably the best horse in the crop, which he showed at Tampere racetrack.
Tuomas Korvenoja early found the lead behind his Andover Hall son and the most critical point happened in the first turn, when the duo was seriously challenged for the front position, but Korvenoja put the trust in his horse and Lewis Ale solved the situation and kept the lead.
Next drama was when Marrakesh attacked three wide and landed outside leader with 1 2/8ths of a mile to go. At the same time, Graceful Swamp made a break in second over and his chances to win the Kriterium disappeared.
Marrakesh struggled to keep up the pace with the leader from outside position, but when the field turned for home stretch, Lewis Ale put in the next gear and left his opponents for the victory in mile rate 1:59.3 over 1.7 miles.
Tuomas Korvenoja has been in the top among the Finnish trainers for many years and his first victory in the Kriterium came 1994, with Venice Beach (Friendly Face).
Bosses Lady (The Bosses Lady) and Mr Big Star (Igor Font) took the places behind the winner.
Will Who’s Who repeat Maharajah’s feat?
Swedish Derby winner Who’s Who (Maharajah) will face European competition when the final of Grand Prix de l’U.E.T. (European Derby) is scheduled at Vincennes racetrack in Paris on Friday Oct. 12.
Who’s Who won his elimination comfortably at Solvalla last weekend and $230,200 awaits the winner on Friday in Paris.
Maharajah managed to win two Derby titles the same year in 2009 and his son Who’s Who will be one of the favorites from post five behind the gate.
Horse (Sire) – Trainer
1. Dream Night Palema (e. Muscle Hill) – Pär Hedberg
2. Chianti (e. Scarlet Knight) – Björn Goop
3. Broadwell (e. Conway Hall) – Paul Hagoort
4. Earl Simon (e. Prodigious) – Jarmo Niskanen
5. Who’s Who (e. Maharajah) – Pasi Aikio
6. Eridan (e. Ready Cash) – Sébastien Guarato
7. Esmondo (e. Un Mec d’Heripre) – Richard Westerink
8. Villiam (e. Muscle Hill) – Timo Nurmos
9. Hooters Usa (e. Armbro Embellish) – Arnold Mollema
10. Mellby Free (e. Muscle Hill) – Björn Goop
11. Easy des Racques (e. Rodrigo Jet) – Francis Tardieu
12. Short In Cash (e. Ready Cash) – Petri Puro