by Frank Carulli
October 8, 2018
The ‘Twister’ won’t touch down at Yonkers Raceway this year, but a tour de force from around the world will converge on the half-mile oval for the $1 million International Trot this Saturday.
Twister Bi, who set a world-record with a breathtaking 2:22.1 performance in the 1-1/4-mile race in 2017, has been beset by lung problems this year and won’t be making a return trip.
But Jerry Riordan, who trained Twister Bi, wasn’t left empty-handed. He also trains Ringostarr Treb, who pulled out of the pocket on the backstretch, bid for the lead midway on the final turn and held on to win the Elitlopp in Sweden in May for driver Wilhelm Paal.
The Italian flag could also fly high again if 11-year-old Arazi Boko (Alessandro Gocciadoro) duplicates his front-end score and strong gallop-out when he won the Sweden Cup.
Canada and Sweden also pose a double threat in the 40th running of the International.
Marion Marauder, driven by Canadian Scott Zeron, won the 2016 Trotting Triple Crown, was named older Trotter of the Year in 2017, finished second to Twister Bi in last year’s International and is the field’s only $3 million earner. Will Take Charge, a late addition to the International after the Netherlands’ Dreamokko scratched with a sore throat, trotted to a Yonkers track record in 1:53.2 in mid-September and “he trots the turns as fast as any horse I’ve ever had,” trainer Jeff Gillis said.
Sweden’s hope rests with Cruzado Dela Noche (Brian Sears), who was parked the mile in the Copenhagen Cup but dug in to win Denmark’s biggest race by a nose, and Pastore Bob (Johan Untersteiner), who raced erratically on the lead in deep stretch but won the Finlandia-Ajo, the richest race in Finland.
Ariana G, a 4-year-old mare, will bring a 26-37 record and $2.3 million bankroll into the race as the U.S. representative. She won the Breeders Crown 3yo Filly Trot and the Hambletonian Oaks and set a track record in 1:52.1 in the Dayton Trotting Derby in her last start. She will be making her first start on a half-mile oval for Hall of Fame trainer Jimmy Takter and regular driver Yannick Gingras.
Yonkers’ leading driver, Jason Bartlett, gets the call on France’s Up and Quick, a $2.3 million earner who won the Prix d’Amerique in 2015 and, more recently, the Criterium de Vitesse de Basse-Normandie with a late surge past the dueling leaders.
Norway’s Lionel (Goran Antonsen) could be a live longshot off a fast-closing, 7-wide rally in the Eruopean Masters Series in which he was 11th on the backstretch.
Driver-trainer Fleming Jensen arrives with Denmark’s Slide So easy, who has won 30 of 78 starts.
Post time for the 12-race card Saturday is 1 p.m. The International Trot is scheduled at the 8th race at 3:40. The first 4,000 Empire Club members will receive a free baseball cap, starting at 10 a.m.