Saturday, October 13, 2018
FIRST POST: 1pm INTERNATIONAL TROT: 3:40pm
By Brandon Valvo for the SOA of NY
YONKERS, N.Y. – Winning the Elitlopp this year with Ringostarr Treb was surreal for Jerry Riordan, but the trainer quickly realized the experience wasn’t for the claustrophobic.
Just after the race, Riordan and driver Wim Paal led Ringostarr Treb up the track along the outside rail. The track apron at Solvalla is elevated from the racing surface and the thousands of fans along the fence leaned over and reached out. Their extended arms hung over the trainer, driver, and horse, enclosing them in a tunnel of humanity. The newly crowned Elitlopp winner took it all in stride.
“If you have a horse that can deal with it, it’s always nice to bring them over to the public,” Riordan said. “The horse, he’s such a cool horse, an easy-going kind of a guy. At one point, there was an old lady in a wheelchair that reached up and grabbed his shadow roll and was pulling him over so she could pet him and he didn’t care. We had taken the sulky off, we were just letting him walk along.
“I was with the horse and we have this entourage behind us and we were only going to do it for a little bit, but as we were going up the fence, there were people waiting for him,” Riordan continued. “That’s my biggest memory of the post-race celebrating on the track. The people here are so enthusiastic, and they’ve been watching races all their lives. It was just a real pleasure to be able to have that fun and have so many people patting me and Paal on the back and rubbing the horse between his ears. He was loving it, he was fantastic.”
Riordan’s journey with Ringostarr Treb began after owners E.V.A.M. Racing transferred the trotter to his care from former conditioner Holger Ehlert. Although he was a claimer at 2 and 3, Ringostarr Treb won the Group 2 Sweden Cup for Ehlert before coming to Riordan. When the son of Classic Photo showed up in the barn, Riordan realized he knew little about the horse he’d been competing against for years before.
“When I saw him, I had the wrong impression of the horse completely from racing against him. I just thought he was a horse that leaves fast and finishes really strong, and when he came to the barn, I went around the corner and saw him in his stall and he was this beautiful horse,” Riordan recalled. “He’s not very big, but he’s gorgeous, beautiful head, really intelligent looking.
“For all the horse owners out there, they should always have hope. This horse was racing in a 10-claimer when he was 3 years old. Nobody claimed him,” Riordan said. “It just goes to show, once in a while, it happens.”
Riordan stripped most of Ringostarr Treb’s equipment off and changed the horse’s racing style. Instead of gunning the lead in every start, Riordan raced Ringostarr Treb from behind. The changes worked. Ringostarr Treb won a Gulddivisionen trot in his debut for Riordan, finished second in the 2017 edition of the Group 1 Hugo Åbergs Memorial, and won the Group 1 Sundsvall Open Trot.
Despite Riordan’s early success with Ringostarr Treb, the stallion didn’t reach his full potential until after a bout in France competing at the prestigious winter meet at Hippodrome de Vincennes. Although he was only third in the Group 2 Grand Prix du Bourbonnais and was off the board in his next three starts, including a seventh in the Group 1 Grand Prix d’Amérique, Ringostarr Treb blossomed physically racing in the long distances of the French classics.
“The biggest thing, when I saw the horse really improve was after that winter meet in Paris. The horse just came out of it like a bull,” Riordan said. “He had terrible luck, he was interfered with in the Prix d’Amérique. But the real positive was, after the winter meet down there, he just got so much stronger. Going those type of speeds over the long distance just really seemed to bring him to another level because this spring he was just really, really good.”
Ringostarr Treb returned to Sweden a winner, taking the Group 1 Olympitravet in track record time April 28. He followed it up with his two-heat Elitlopp score, improving his record to 30 wins in 86 starts with 12.9 million Swedish krona earned. Although Ringostarr Treb’s Elitlopp victory on the last Sunday in May was impressive – he beat Propulsion by a length in 1:51 – the star wouldn’t return to the races until the fall. He scratched out of the Oslo Grand Prix June 16 after getting an infection in a joint, which was initially only made worse with treatment.
“He had an infection. The doctor injected an ankle and there was a reaction to it,” Riordan said. “It shouldn’t have been that big of a deal, but the clinic overreacted. It created a worse problem than the actual infection. That was what knocked him out for the whole summer, the reaction to the reaction.”
Although Riordan won last year’s Yonkers International Trot with Twister Bi, with that trotter moved to a new stable by his owners and with Ringostarr Treb on the sidelines, the conditioner didn’t think he’d make it back to New York for this year’s renewal of the $1 million stakes.
“Honestly, I never thought I’d be back with him,” Riordan said. “We never had any particular objective, but we knew it was possible to make Yonkers. We were ready.”
With an International Trot invitation accepted, but without a race since May 27, Riordan entered Ringostarr Treb in a 1,640-meter overnight for winners of at least 475,001 Swedish krona at Solvalla September 26. Ringostarr Treb raced at the back of the pack early with Torbjörn Jansson at the helm. When he pulled three wide around the final turn and began to advance, Ringostarr Treb made a break in stride, finishing sixth.
“When I raced him the other night, a lot of things combined to create the situation. The regular driver was suspended, it rained like hell and they put sand on the track. He’s a horse that will make a break every now and then if you don’t know him,” Riordan said. “When he tipped him out, he was really hanging onto him and he didn’t want him to go too fast, he was on the bit pretty good and he was going to win. He was three-wide and he touched himself and lost it.”
Despite the break, Riordan was pleased with the effort. He saw an explosive move on the turn before Ringostarr Treb galloped and knew the horse still had his desire to win. However, once Riordan realized Ringostarr Treb would need a clean line to compete at Yonkers, he plotted his next move. He entered his star in a qualifier at Hamburg Trabrennbahn Wednesday (October 3). With Wim Paal back at the controls, Ringostarr Treb breezed around the track, putting down a clean line and getting another tightener over the 2,200-meter distance.
“Probably it’s exactly what he needs, another start in the sulky. It’s like we went 6 furlongs with him last Saturday and now we’re going to give him a little longer workout. I think he’ll be coming to New York just right,” Riordan said. “We’ll put a good, clean line on him and it will pick him up a little more too, so everybody will be in a good mood when we put him on the plane to send him over.”
Ringostarr Treb will face nine rivals in the Yonkers International Trot: Arazi Boko (Italy), Ariana G (United States), Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden), Lionel (Norway), Marion Marauder (Canada), Pastore Bob (Sweden), Slide So Easy (Denmark), Up And Quick (France), and Will Take Charge (Canada). Riordan thinks the mare is the one to beat.
“If Ariana G can get around the turns and can handle that extra quarter mile, it could be interesting with her in there,” he said. “It’s a nice field, it’s a balanced field. I’d like to think that ‘Ringo,’ if he’s in as good a shape as I hope he’ll be, can beat these. I think that Ariana G, with her speed and her form, she could be very dangerous.”
The $1 million Yonkers International Trot is slated for Saturday, October 13 at Yonkers Raceway. The card will also feature a pair of $250,000 invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace. For more information on the event and its participants, visit www.internationaltrot.com.