05/25/2016 5:59PM

Harness: Enggren seeks elusive Elitlopp win with Resolve

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Derick Giwner
Resolve will start from post 2 as a 12-1 morning line outsider in his Elitlopp elimination.

Horse owner Hans Enggren will watch Sunday as his 5-year-old trotter Resolve competes in Sweden’s famed Elitloppet at Solvalla Raceway. It has been more than three decades since Enggren can recall having a horse in the elite race, but the thought of his previous attempt to win it with a horse named Spirits Supreme triggers an amusing anecdote which could have started with the line, “A man walks into a bar with a horse.”

The bar, located in Gettysburg, Pa., near Enggren’s adopted hometown of Abbottstown, was owned by Enggren and renamed in honor of Spirits Supreme, who raced in the 1983 Elitloppet. One day, Enggren decided to show off the horse to the establishment’s patrons.

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“To everyone’s delight, I brought Spirits Supreme right into the bar,” the 86-year-old Enggren said, laughing, “and he gracefully baptized it, I guess you would call it.”

Spirits Supreme was unsuccessful in his attempt for an Elitloppet victory, not to mention barroom etiquette, but Enggren is hopeful that Resolve can get him to the winner’s circle.

Resolve, who received the 2015 O’Brien Award for the best older male trotter to compete in Canada, races in the first of two Elitloppet eliminations. The top four finishers from each division advance to the same-day final. Resolve is trained by two-time Elitloppet winner Ake Svanstedt, who also will drive the stallion.

Five-year-old stallion Nuncio, whose success in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3 included victories in the Kentucky Futurity and Yonkers Trot, competes in the second elimination and is the 2-1 favorite to win the event according to online oddsmakers. Since turning 4, Nuncio has raced in Europe for owner/trainer Stefan Melander. He finished third in the 2015 Elitloppet, which was won by Magic Tonight.

Resolve, who will start his elimination from post No. 2, is the fourth choice in the pre-race odds, at 12-1. Timoko, who won the 2014 Elitloppet, is 7-1 and Propulsion is 8-1. Timoko and Propulsion, who raced in the States for trainer Tony Alagna at ages 3 and 4, are in the same elimination as Resolve.

Defending champion Magic Tonight, who raced in the U.S. for trainer Noel Daley in his early years, is in the second elimination and will start from post seven. He is 41-1.

“I’m very excited,” said Enggren, a native of Sweden who moved to the U.S. in 1952. “I know a lot of people have gone to a lot of trouble to get the horse there and to get me there. It will be nice to meet some old friends and see Resolve race. I know Nuncio has been declared a pretty strong favorite, but I have high hopes for Resolve.

“I think an awful lot of my trainer. According to comments I’ve seen in the Swedish papers, they feel like I feel --- that Svanstedt has improved the horse tremendously.”

Enggren, perhaps best known as the breeder and owner of 1985 Hambletonian winner Prakas as well as heading Meadowbranch Farms, bought Resolve in July 2014. Last year, Resolve won four of 13 races and hit the board a total of 12 times on his way to $700,938. His wins included the TVG Free For All Series championship and an elimination of the Maple Leaf Trot. He finished second in the Maple Leaf Trot final, as well as the Breeders Crown Open Trot and Hambletonian Maturity.

This year, Resolve is officially winless in two starts, although he did get to the finish line first in the Mack Lobell Elitloppet Playoff on May 8 at the Meadowlands only to be disqualified for going inside several pylons in the stretch. Despite the missteps, the connections received an Elitloppet invitation. Resolve is the lone U.S.-owned horse in the race.

“It would mean a lot,” Enggren said about the possibility of winning the race, which he has attended numerous times over the years. “I was brought up in Sweden with horses in the late ’30s, early ’40s. I always was very closely attached to Solvalla. As a kid, I was there a lot. If we were to win, it would be truly amazing. I have promised everybody here that I’m not going to cry if they take pictures.”

Is it a promise Enggren thinks he can keep?

“We’ll see,” he said, adding with a laugh, “Perhaps I will wear very black glasses.”

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com