Wednesday, September 12, 2017 - by Brandon Valvo for SOA of NY
Yonkers, NY --- When Yonkers Raceway revived the International Trot in 2015, trainer Richard Westerink supported the $1 million stakes by shipping Timoko across the Atlantic for the first and only time in the career of the recently retired 15-time Group 1 winner and €5 million earner. Then 8 years old, Timoko raced on the rim the entire 1 1/4 miles.
After being turned away from the lead by Creatine, driver Björn Goop tried to give Timoko a breather in the opening quarter. However, as Mosaique Face advanced three wide, Goop put Timoko in play again to protect his position. Timoko put Mosaique Face behind him and continued on his first-over grind, pressuring Creatine through a quarter of :28.4.
When Oasis Bi made a wide rally to confront Creatine past the half, Goop let the leaders get away by 3 lengths. Timoko benefited from the cover for about a quarter-mile before angling three wide entering the backstretch the final time. Racing into the lane, the plugs came out and Timoko found more. He wore down Creatine, but couldn’t pass Papagayo E, who saved every inch of ground in the pocket throughout the 10-furlong stakes.
For all the extra ground he covered, Papagayo E only beat Timoko a half-length.
“I think it’s one of the best races of Timoko,” Westerink said. “The horse was fighting and fighting until the end and it was a great race. It was incredible.”
Although Westerink didn’t return to the International Trot with Timoko in 2016 - Timoko’s dual career of racing and breeding made the international voyage too taxing - the trainer will bring Dreammoko, a 4-year-old son of Timoko, to compete in the lucrative stakes this year.
“It’s a little bit easier with Dreammoko. He’s not breeding, not yet,” Westerink said. “That’s why I can come with Dreammoko.”
Part of Timoko’s first crop, Dreammoko is already a Group 2 winner, having taken the Prix Phaeton at Vincennes in March. He has earned €305,210 and placed in eight other grouped stakes in 28 races. Despite his success, Westerink wasn’t inspired when Dreammoko came to his stable as a yearling for owner Jan Stins.
“He’s a very lazy horse in the work, more lazy than his father. Timoko, in the beginning was also like that. This one is even more lazy in the works,” Westerink said. “This horse, in the beginning, I said he’s not a very good horse, but when we pull the shoes, he’s better. In the beginning, he was not a very good horse for me. This year, we can take off the shoes and that transformed the horse.”
Dreammoko finished second on debut in January 2015 and won his next start, both with shoes. After a barefoot win in his third start at Vincennes, Dreammoko went two for his next 11 racing with shoes. Westerink pulled Dreammoko’s shoes in his 15th start January 24, 2017 and the chestnut recovered from a brief break behind the gate to win the €65,000 overnight by 5 1/ 2 lengths in a lifetime best time. All of Dreammoko’s stakes performances since have come without shoes.
One of the highlights of Dreammoko’s career thus far came in the Kymi Grand Prix at Kouvola June 17. Dreammoko raced against his sire, Timoko in the €165,000 stakes. Although many were critical of Westerink’s decision to pit Dreammoko against Timoko, the trainer enjoyed the unique opportunity.
“It was fun for me. There was a lot of critique in the world. ‘How can you race a son against his father,’ ” Westerink said. “I think that made it more of a challenge for me. I love to take challenges and I think it was a good challenge. The horses were racing well, both of them.”
Timoko entered the Kymi Grand Prix off a victory in the Group 1 Elitloppet Final at Solvalla May 28. Dreammoko came in off a third in the Tommy Hannes Lopp at Solvalla the same day. Timoko started from post three in the Kymi Grand Prix and Dreammoko, post nine in the second tier.
Just before the start, Dreammoko shied away from the horse in front of him. After raising his head high and taking a few awkward steps, Dreammoko began in last 12 lengths behind. Meanwhile, Timoko raced to the lead. Hounded by Seabiscuit to his outside and Buzz Mearas to his inside, Timoko trotted through a blistering opening quarter in :26.4.
While Timoko blazed a trail up front, Dreammoko raced into the flow fourth-over. Racing around the final turn, Timoko tried to fight off Carabinieri, who challenged on the outside. Meanwhile, driver Gabi Gelormini guided Dreammoko three wide and he advanced within 6 lengths of his sire.
Although Timoko battled down the stretch, he could not withstand Carabinieri’s fresh legs. Timoko finished second beaten a length while Dreammoko stormed down the center of the track to finish third, 2 1/2 lengths behind his sire.
“Dreammoko, he made a little mistake behind the gate,” Westerink said. “He lost 10 or 12 meters and in the last turn, he was coming on the outside. It was a great race. (Dreammoko) was speeding faster in the end, but he’s not a better horse than Timoko, I don’t say that.”
Since his bout with Timoko, Dreammoko has twice finished second to rival and top 4-year-old Django Riff. Dreammoko was beaten first in the Prix de Milan at Enghien July 29 and again in the Prix de Geneve at the same track August 16. In his most recent start, Dreammoko finished third to Diablo Du Noyer and Django Riff in the Group 2 Prix Jules Thibault at Vincennes August 31.
“He raced the last three times with Django Riff, the best horse of his age I think and he’s fighting, fighting, fighting,” Westerink said. “I think once he will beat him. Almost in Enghien in the last race, he almost beat him on the outside, Django Riff in the lead and (Dreammoko) on the outside. He lost by a head. He’s a tough racer, like his father. I think he’s a great horse.”
Westerink plans to race Dreammoko one more time in Europe before shipping to Yonkers for the International Trot October 14. Dreammoko will head to Bologna, Italy to compete in the Group 1 Gran Premio Continentale September 17. Dreammoko will start from post four in the €209,000 stakes for 4-year-olds.
“He’ll race once, next week in Bologna in Italy. He has number four,” Westerink said. “That’s a Group 1 race in Italy, a big race. We have a little chance, maybe we can win there. That would be nice, to win one before Yonkers.”
Dreammoko’s start in Italy will be his first on a half-mile track, the same size oval he will find when he arrives in New York later this fall. Since many of Dreammoko’s best races have come on the lead, Westerink expects the 800-meter track to suit his International hopeful.
“For him, it’s not a problem. I think it’s better for him,” Westerink said. “We can take the lead and it’s a little track, he can take the lead. He can come behind, but I think when we have the lead, it’s good for him.”
Saturday, October 13, 2018
FIRST POST: 1pm INTERNATIONAL TROT: 3:40pm