05/04/2015 3:16PM

Harness: Rekila had a feeling about her Lady Suffolk win

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Ken Weingartner/USTA Photo
The Riina Rekila trained/driven filly E L Love has won all four of her career starts.

Riina Rekila cannot explain it, but something compelled her to make her first trip to New Jersey and race E L Love in the Lady Suffolk Stakes. Whatever forces were at work, it proved to be a worthwhile journey.

E L Love, hailing from a family of stakes-winners that includes full-brother Appomattox and half-brother E L Titan, improved to 4-for-4 in her career by winning a $35,750 division of Saturday’s Lady Suffolk for 3-year-old female trotters by 2-3/4 lengths over favorite Riley’s Dream in 1:58 at Freehold Raceway.

It was E L Love’s first try in stakes company – she previously had won three conditioned races at three different tracks in Canada by a combined total of eight lengths – and a rare visit to the U.S. by Rekila, who during the past three-plus years made only 10 starts as a driver in the States.

“I’ve had an idea – I don’t know why – that I just felt like I had to come here at some point,” Rekila said after driving E L Love to victory for breeder/owner Erkki Laakkonen. “I’ve had in my mind for a few years that I was going to win this race. I don’t know why, but that’s why I paid her and some of my other horses into it.”

E L Love is a daughter of Yankee Glide out of the mare Courtney Hall, a stakes-winning full sister to millionaire Cameron Hall. E L Love is Courtney Hall’s fifth foal and the previous four – E L Rock, Appomattox, E L Rocket, and E L Titan – each earned at least $233,000. E L Titan, who also is trained by Rekila and won last year’s Carl Erskine Trot, leads the group with $581,351.

“They have a different style, but they both have unbelievable speed and how easy they can go,” Rekila said. “She’s a fast horse and she wants to do it.”

Rekila plans to race E L Love on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit in addition to a number of open stakes, but the filly is not eligible to the Hambletonian Oaks. Rekila has had previous success in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes with Christiana Hanover, who in 2010 won a preliminary round of the series in a then-track-record 1:53 4/5 at Pocono Downs.

“She’s the nicest horse, but she can be tough, tough, tough,” Rekila said about E L Love, adding with a laugh, “I wouldn’t make her mad if you want to be alive. You have to know how you treat her.”

Rekila also is preparing E L Titan for his 4-year-old campaign. E L Titan, who in addition to defeating Father Patrick in the Erskine finished second to Father Patrick in the Breeders Crown, Canadian Trotting Classic, and American-National Stakes, is doing stud duty while working his way back to the races.

“He’s training pretty good,” Rekila said. “I’ve been taking my time. I’ve been to Mohawk a few times, a little bit faster but not very fast. I don’t want to stress him too much. I just want to take my time, maybe race in late July or August and try to get him ready for later in the year.”

Rekila, a 33-year-old native of Finland, often drives the horses in her stable. She has won 163 races as a trainer and 140 as a driver.

“I like to drive them, especially at the beginning, because then I know if I have to do some shoeing changes or if they are lame somewhere,” Rekila said. “I know (catch) drivers can do it, but even when I win a race I’m thinking about things I can do for the next one.”

And maybe also thinking about places she can go, whether she can explain it or not.

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