Saturday, October 15, 2016
Learn more about Jamin and the history of the International Trot - click below for a feature by Kathy Parker of Horseman and Fair World Magazine
1959 - Jamin
1960 - Hairos II
1983 - Ideal du Gazeau
1969 - Une de Mai
1985 - Lutin d'Isigny
2015 - Papagayo E
By John Cirillo
Harness racing was at its pinnacle in the late 1950’s when the Roosevelt International Trot was inaugurated in 1959 with tremendous, worldwide fanfare at now defunct Roosevelt Raceway, which at the time had undergone a $19 million facelift two years prior, and was considered the sports’ premier venue.
A French import, the highly-publicized, artichoke-eating Jamin, captured the inaugural edition in ’59 before 48,000 spectators. The late, legendary publicists Joey Goldstein and Lew “Tootie” Barasch gained monstrous press and fan attention in a national search during an artichoke-shortage to feed the thistle vegetable-craving Jamin. The huge crowd witnessed Jamin’s victory, and watched driver Jean Riaud feed him artichokes in the winner’s circle after the race.
The inaugural was raced at a mile and a half, and all subsequent editions at a mile and one-quarter.
A Roosevelt record throng of 54,861 watched 9-year-old, French-bred Hairos II, representing the Netherlands and driven by 260-pound Willem Geerson, win the first renewal the following year. Jamin was unable to defend his crown. Crevalcore of Italy was second and the 9-5 American favorite Silver Song was third.
Su Mac Lad
Again in 1961, the champ was not able to make a defense of the title when Hairos II bowed a tendon. Su Mac Lad of the USA took his first of two Internationals, with Stanley Dancer in the sulky. The lightly-regarded Canadian horse Tie Silk, who was third to Su Mac Lad in ’61, upset the defending champ in 1962. The $2.7 million betting handle set a world record for a harness program before 53,279, just one thousand short of the record crowd.
Ideal du Gazeau
The powerful, French flag-carrier Ideal du Gazeau, with his white blaze and an amazing burst of speed, was the only three-time International champion under the reins of Eugene Lefevre. Holding his head high in a unique and exciting trotting style, Ideal du Gazeau pulled off the Pat Riley-esque “Three-peat” consecutively in 1981, ’82 and ’83, after finishing second to the American mare Classical Way (John Simpson, Jr.) in his debut in 1980.
Legendary U.S.A. standard-bearers, the gelding Su Mac Lad (1961 and ’63/Stanley Dancer) and the mare Delmonica Hanover (1973-74/Delvin Miller), and the French champions Roquepine (1967-68) and Une de Mai (1969 and ’71), both mares from France driven by JeanRene Geugone, were the quartet of two-time International titlists during the late sixties and early seventies.
Une de Mai
Mares won the International in seven years straight from 1969 to ’73; Fresh Yankee was the 1970 tigress with Joe O’Brien in the sulky.
Lutin d’Isigny continued the French dominance in the eighties, winning two straight following Ideal du Gazeau’s three in a row, to become the sixth multiple International champion, and give French flag-carriers a record five consecutive Internationals.
The United States won four in a row from 1972 through 1975 when Speedy Crown (1972) and Savoir (1975) sandwiched Delmonica Hanover’s pair. USA also won three in a row from 1978-80, when the aforementioned Classical Way, followed by Cold Comfort and Doublemint, both driven by the late, rising star Peter Haughton, who was just 24-years-old at the time, were the American champs.
Yonkers Raceway President and CEO Timothy J. Rooney brought the International to his historic half-mile oval in Westchester as host site in 1988 with the closing of Roosevelt; and brought Lew Barasch with it to spearhead the effort. That edition was captured by the great American trotter Mack Lobell.
Sweden’s His Majesty captured the 1995 edition at Yonkers Raceway, the last time the race would be held in 20 years.
The International Trot returned after a 20-year absence in 2015, and carried a $1 million purse for the first time. The Norwegian contender Papagayo E upset the field of 10 to give the country its first win in the event.
The writer witnessed his first live Interational Trot in ’77, when he made a winning bet on the Italian Delfo, and took the boys out for Chinese food at Richard Yee’s to celebrate the score. He saw all three of Ideal du Gazeau’s “hat trick”, and the stylish French champ is his personal favorite, and the best trotter he’s ever witnessed live.
1973 - Delmonica Hanover
1975 - Doublemint
1988 - Mack Lobell
1961 - Su Mac Lad