by Frank Carulli
May 7, 2019
Trainer Per Engblom celebrated his first stakes victory Saturday at Freehold Raceway. Now he hopes the 3-year-old trotter that brought him there leaves a lasting impression.
Engblom prepped 3-to-5 favorite Osterc for a winning rally in the $118,950 Dexter Cup, the first Grand Circuit stakes race on the road to the $1 million Hambletonian in August. His mentor, retired Hall of Famer Jimmy Takter, won the Hambletonian, the world’s most prestigious race, four times.
“That was nice, very nice,” Engblom told Ken Weingartner of the U.S. Trotting Association. “I was sure he had enough power. It was just a question of keeping him flat.”
Yannick Gingras, the second-leading driver in North America last year with $11 million in earnings, took care of his end of the deal. Osterc, now 6-for-8 lifetime, picked up live cover in the second quarter behind elimination winner Whirl Wind K (George Brennan). He exploded 3-wide near the ¾-mile mark, cleared leader Cavill Hanover (Ake Svanstedt) on the final turn and won geared down by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:57 in his seasonal debut. HL Revadon (Dexter Dunn), who relinquished the early lead to Cavill Hanover, re-emerged to finish second, ahead of Skyway Kon Man.
“He had plenty of go,” said Gingras. “He got a little bit bumpy going around the last turn, but other than that he was perfect.”
The Dexter Cup was icing on the cake for Gingras, who one race earlier guided Magical Beliefs to victory in the $66,000 Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old fillies in 1:57.4.
Gingras made his way to Miami Valley in Ohio on Monday to drive last year’s Hambletonian winner, Atlanta, for new trainer Ron Burke. Atlanta didn’t disappoint, leading from start to finish in a sizzling 1:50.4 to win by 7-3/4 lengths. Atlanta’s 13th victory and $1.24 million bankroll has her connections thinking of shipping her to Sweden for the prestigious Elitlopp for her next start.
“It’s an honor to welcome a Hambletonian winner into your barn,” Burke said in a post-race interview. “She has all the special characteristics of a special horse.”