by Victoria Howard
When embarking in a new venture it’s always beneficial to know somebody already in that field who can mentor and help you get started. Such was the case with this month’s superstar, Mikaela Wallin.
Royalty bred in the world of harness racing, the name Melander is one of the more elite in trotting circles.
Mikaela’s uncle, Stefan Melander, her father’s brother, is a Swedish harness racing trainer and driver based at Aby-Farm in Enkoping, Sweden. Among the horses he has trained are top trotters Scarlet Knight, Iceland, Gigant Neo and Nuncio.
Mikaela’s brother, Marcus Melander, worked for the great Jimmy Takter before going out on his own. It didn’t take long before Melander dominated harness racing with horses Enterprise, Long Tom, Greenshoe, Gimpanzee and Green Manalishi, among others.
THE MERGING OF TWO GREAT HARNESS RACING FAMILIES
In April 2022, Mikaela added another horseman to her personal “Who’s Who” list when she walked down the aisle with Swedish-born trainer Lucas Wallin.
Wallin has proven he is someone to be reckoned with. Only in the United States for seven years, the 29-year-old horseman has trained many good horses, one being Rebuff, he bought at the 2020 Lexington sale for $200,000.
That purchase proved to be well worth it for in 2021 the Muscle Hill colt won the Breeders Crown for 2-year-old male trotters, ending his freshman year with seven victories in 14 lifetime starts, and earnings of $573,670.
The passion Lucas had for horses started when he was 8 years-old living in Sweden. Growing up, Lucas followed his uncle, trainer Joakim Wallin from track to track in Sweden.
Wallin knew immediately he wanted to be a trainer/driver, so when he was asked to come to the States in 2014 to work for top trainer Ake Svanstedt, he didn’t think twice.
Making his U.S. debut in 2015, Wallin won 18 of 78 races and earned $192,826 in purses.
While working with Svanstedt, Lucas met his future wife, Mikaela Melander, Marcus Melander’s younger sister.
After working with Svanstedt for two years, Lucas decided to go out on his own and at the age of 23 he built his own stable. Starting with one horse he bought at the Meadow Lands sale, it wasn’t long before Lucas bought a few at the Lexington and Harrisburg sales; and has been an exciting, up-hill ride ever since.
In fact, this year Lucas fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams when Rebuff competed in the prestigious Hambletonian.
Also an avid horse lover, Mikaela not only trained horses in Sweden, but she drove them occasionally.
“Since I’ve been in the States I’ve been lucky to have taken care of Greenshoe, Fourth Dimension, Hypnotic AM and Joviality S,” Mikaela said.
“As far as my favorite — Greenshoe was so special to me for we traveled a lot together and I learned so much from him.
“Greenshoe had the funniest personality. He enjoys everything and thinks everything is fun. No matter what it was, Greenshoe did it with pleasure.
“I was beyond ecstatic when Greenshoe went in 1:49.4 at The Red Mile in Kentucky.”
Mikaela currently takes care of five horses for her brother, Marcus —one being Joviality S, who finished second in the $1 million Hambletonian on Aug. 6 at the Meadowlands.
Joviality S was one of two talented fillies that challenged the best trotting colts in the Hambletonian: Jiggy Jog S was the other.
“Joviality S gets angry a lot, just like me. She’s really a laid back horse, but she has a temperament also. I think that’s what makes her so good — she’s a fighter,” Mikaela said.
Living out their dream, Lucas and Mikaela train on the same farm as Marcus, while being “lovingly” competitive.
“My husband and I are on Stanley Dancer’s old farm located in New Egypt, New Jersey.
“We race our horses all over the country and although it gets a bit tiring at times, I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
The Wallins are expecting their first child, a son, in November. Hopefully, the little Wallin will one day carry on his parent’s legacy.