Solvalla, Sweden --- Maven --- the first of 16 horses to be invited to this year’s Elitlopp -- is settling into her surroundings at the Erikssund Training Stable near Stockholm, in preparation for the Swedish classic at Solvalla on Sunday (May 25).
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Trainer Jonas Czernyson and driver Yannick Gingras celebrate in the winner's circle after Maven captured the Miami Valley Distaff earlier this month.|
The Jonas Czernyson-trainee arrived on Monday with her caretaker Caroline Mundin, fresh off her 1:53.3 victory in the $60,000 Miami Valley Distaff at Miami Valley Raceway on May 4.
The 5-year-old daughter of Glidemaster-M Stewart, who has amassed $1,453,969 lifetime for owner Bill Donovan of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., has drawn post six in the first of two Elitlopp eliminations.
“I would have preferred the three or four hole, as anyone would, but it’s better than the seven or eight,” Donovan said. “I think Yannick (Gingras) is going to have an opportunity to drive at Solvalla on Saturday, which will give him a little more insight on how they drive over there.
“When they are on the outside over there, they just kind of sit there rather then drive to the front, and I think that’s why horses last longer on the outside over there. I think Maven’s capable of doing that.”
Czernyson arrived in Sweden Wednesday morning, while Gingras will arrive in Scandinavia on Friday.
“She’s a tough little horse and being invited to the Elitlopp is a dream come true for me,” said Czernyson, a native of Ystad, Sweden.
Maven, who has 26 wins, eight seconds and a third in 41 career starts, had a trio of qualifiers at The Meadowlands before her lone start this year.
“Jonas and Yannick sit behind Maven, and I let the decision to go to the Elitlopp completely up to them,” Donovan said. “Right from last fall, when she really started to come into her own again, Jonas has prepped her for this race.
“Last year’s American-National was a major test for her. We needed to know how she would compete against the boys, and after her world record (1:51.4h) at Delaware last fall, things had changed with her. She did that on her own and we thought if she could do that and not get lonely on the lead, that we’d be in good shape.
“Seeing Maven take on the boys against an international field is very exciting. She’s got her work cut out for her but I think she’s ready. Jonas does a good job of getting them ready.”
Donovan said that Czernyson has been working with his star mare to prepare her for the different type of racing restrictions and styles in Sweden.
|USTA/Mark Hall photo|
|Maven captured the $250,000 Breeders Crown Mare final last fall at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in 1:52.3.|
“He took the burr headpole off her in the qualifiers so that everything she’s faced -- with the exception of racing on Lasix -- has been done at home,” Donovan confirmed. “I know Jonas will take her around the track so she’s familiar with the sights, as she likes to know where she’s going and what everything is about. She’s a bit of a character that way.”
Maven captured the $250,000 Breeders Crown Mare final last fall at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in 1:52.3 with Gingras in the sulky in a season that saw her earn $509,220. She also captured the $500,000 Breeders Crown 3-year-old filly final in 2012 in 1:54 at Woodbine, when she earned $759,155. As a freshman, she amassed $155,594 for these same connections.
“When she was two, she wasn’t really showing her head the way she should have, and she was raced very conservatively,” Donovan explained. “At three, I think she was very well-managed. We were enthusiastic for her 4-year-old season, but we also looked at what was in her best interests and didn’t let our egos get the best of us.”
Donovan said he’d also like to see his filly race in the Prix d’Amerique as well.
“I hope she has a good year so we can go to Paris next January,” he said. “I’ve watched a couple of the Elitlopps in the past. I think Maven can handle it. Our mission in the first heat is to get into the final.”
Donovan said he is looking forward to the activities at the Swedish harness track.
“We’ll be passing out hats with ‘Maven USA’ at Solvalla on Sunday,” he said. “We’re going to be surrounded by many, many Swedes, so we have to at least make the American presence known to people. I know it’s going to be a fun weekend from all of the work the people at Solvalla have been doing. There’s really three days of activities, so it should make for a truly memorable experience for sure.”
Donovan noted that his mare will also be facing some tough competition state-side when she returns from Scandinavia.
“It looks like the mares division here is going to be a lot tougher than it was last year,” he stressed. “I think we’re in for a summer of good races with the older trotters -- of both sexes. Hopefully, Maven stays healthy and there will be races where she’ll be taking on the boys. Trotting mares seem to be able to maintain themselves for a number of years, and I’m not in any hurry to retire her to the breeding shed. As long as she’s giving a good account of herself, we’ll keep her on the racetrack.”
Below are the fields for the Elitlopp eliminations:
1. Shaq Is Back - Daniel Redén
2. Prussia - Pietro Gubellini
3. Timoko - Björn Goop
4. Digital Ink - Örjan Kihlström
5. Reven d'Amour - Erik Adielsson
6. Maven - Yannick Gingras
7. Truculent - Johnny Takter
8. Nahar - Robert Bergh
1. Delicious – Daniel Reden
2. Panne de Moteur – Ôrjan Kihlström
3. Uncle Peter – David Miller
4. Raja Mirchi – Lutfi Kolgjini
5. Sanity – Erik Adielsson
6. Caballion - Björn Goop
7. Juliano Rags – Noralf Braekken
8. Pascia’ L’est – Enrico Bellei