05/25/2012 3:45PM

Harness: Arch Madness must overcome post seven in Elitlopp

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Prior to the draw for Sunday’s Elitlopp, trainer Trond Smedshammer said his trotter, Arch Madness, would be among the race’s favorites if he drew well.

The draw was not favorable, with Arch Madness getting post No. 7 in his eight-horse elimination division. The top four finishers from each of two elims advance to the same-day final.

Still, Arch Madness is getting a good look from fans overseas. According to several wagering sites, Arch Madness is the fourth choice in the betting, behind Rapide Lebel, Commander Crowe and Sanity.

Commander Crowe, who won the $481,844 Oslo Grand Prix on May 13, drew post No. 1 in Arch Madness’ elim and is the 2-1 favorite. Arch Madness, who has won three of five starts this year, is second choice in the division, at 7-2.

Rapide Lebel, who drew post six in the other elim, is the 2-1 pick in that division, followed by Sanity, at 4-1 from post four. Canadian entry Windsong Geant is 8-1 from post one.

In the odds to win the overall race, Rapide Lebel and Commander Crowe are in the 4-1 range, with Sanity and Arch Madness in the 6-1 to 8-1 range depending on the bookmaker.

Arch Madness, who has won 30 of 78 lifetime races and earned $3.34 million, was third in the Oslo Grand Prix, with Norway native Smedshammer handling the driving. Starting from the middle of the gate, Arch Madness went to the lead heading into the first turn before yielding to Commander Crowe on the backstretch.

Timoko made a first-over attack, but was never able to get to the front and eventually began to fade before going off stride. Quarcio du Chene took advantage to find room for a stretch drive and nosed out Arch Madness, who lacked room on the inside, for second place behind Commander Crowe.

“I kind of had my mind made up beforehand that I would let (Commander Crowe) go if he came,” Smedshammer said. “I thought he would get pressure more from (Timoko), but that horse was no good and he was able to go the middle half real slow. It didn’t turn out the way I expected it.

“Looking back, I probably wish I didn’t let him go; at least not as easy. But Arch Madness was all right. He raced good.”
Brian Sears will drive Arch Madness in the Elitlopp. Sears has driven Arch Madness to 11 wins, including in the Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot and Titan Cup.

“Brian knows the horse very well,” Smedshammer said. “He drove him more than I did. I’m not worried about that.”

He also was not concerned about the difference in driving style between European and North American racing.

“There’s not much difference in that race; not in the Elitlopp,” Smedshammer said. “That’s like an American race, pretty much.”
Arch Madness, owned by Marc Goldberg and Barry Goldstein’s Willow Pond LLC, won last year’s Oslo Grand Prix with a stakes-record performance. He was one of the favorites in the Elitlopp, but Smedsahmmer said Arch Madness showed signs of tying up, or cramping, in the final. The race was won by 27-1 longshot Brioni.

“I think that’s what made him show that bad performance in the (final),” Smedshammer said. “Even in the first heat I didn’t think he looked himself. He definitely had an issue that day. Hopefully, he won’t do that again this year.”