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Aby Stora Pris won by Midnight Hour after three heats
Sunday, August 13, 2017 - by Karsten Bønsdorf, USTA Senior Newsroom Correspondent

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The 6-year-old Finnish gelding, Midnight Hour won the Aby Stora Pris at Aby in Sweden in a race-off with North American-bred Muscle Hustle. The Aby Stora Pris is the only international heat race in Sweden and if one trotter wins both heats the purse would be $245,000.

But that didn’t happen.

Midnight Hour driven by Illka Nurmonen was an outsider at 23-1 in the first heat, but enjoyed a pocket trip behind the favorite, Volstead, driven by Johnny Takter. Down the stretch Midnight Hour went past Volstead to win by a length in 1.53.4f. The Italian trotter, Turno di Azzurra driven by Erik Adielsson finished strongly on the outside to take second.

In the second heat Midnight Hour was never in with a chance, as Muscle Hustle driven by Robert Bergh was in command from start and was able to show off a fast finishing Turno di Azzurra down the stretch to win in 1.54.1f. Midnight Hour was last past the post with the race timed in 1.55.

In the race-off Midnight Hour was in command from start and was able to hold Muscle Hustle behind to win by a length after a last quarter in :27.1. Midnight Hour has raised to fame in 2017, and has earnings of $390,000, which is about five times more than he had earned in his previous career.

Midnight Hour is sired by Diesel Don who is a full brother to Muscle Hill. Midnight Hour is by far the best offspring from Diesel Don, who died in 2015.

Muscle Hustle is a 4-year old trotter bred by Brittany Farms and sired by Muscle Mass and was a $60,000 yearling. Last year he was campaigned by Per Henriksen in Canada and won seven races from 15 starts and earned $191,628

He is owned by Swedish top trainer/driver Robert Bergh and the big French owner/breeder, Ecurie des Charmes.

This year Muscle Hustle has raced 12 times in Sweden and has fuve wins and earnings of $220,000.

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