06/18/2013 4:08PM

Meadowlands: Arch Madness tackles a tough TVG FFA field on Friday

Derick Giwner
Arch Madness finished second in the Elitlopp in Sweden.

After facing some of the best trotters in Europe in last month’s Elitlopp, Arch Madness is back in the States and ready to tackle another tough group.

The 9-year-old Arch Madness, who was second in the Elitlopp for the second consecutive year, faces nine rivals in Friday’s third round of the TVG Free For All Championship Series for older trotters at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The top point-getters in nine preliminary rounds will return for a $500,000 final on Nov. 30 at the Big M.

Friday’s race includes Maxie Lee Memorial winner Wishing Stone, currently the No. 2-ranked horse in harness racing’s Top 10, as well as Cutler Memorial champ Sevruga, last season’s champion 3-year-old Market Share and recent world-record-setters Uncle Peter and Guccio.

Arch Madness missed the first two rounds of the TVG series because he was overseas. Prior to heading to Europe, he was third behind Wishing Stone and Sevruga in a free-for-all handicap on May 3 at the Meadowlands, beaten by 1-1/2 lengths in a race timed in 1:51 2/5.

He was scheduled to race in the Oslo Grand Prix, but was scratched after tying up prior to the race. Two weeks later at Solvalla Racetrack in Sweden, Arch Madness finished fourth in his Elitlopp elimination and returned later in the day to finish second to Nahar in the final despite starting from an outside post.

“I was pleased with the final result, but he still never really got a chance to show his true potential,” said trainer-driver Trond Smedshammer. “He wasn’t as good there as he was his last start here before I shipped him. He tied up and I had to scratch him (in Norway) and it was three weeks between races. When you’re away from home it’s tough. But the final result was good, so I’m not disappointed in any way.

“So many things have to go right for you to win those major races. To ship over there and win that race ... there have been outstanding American horses that have done it, so it certainly can be done, but it’s tough.”

Arch Madness has won 31 of 94 career starts and earned $3.91 million for owners Marc Goldberg and Willow Pond. He will start Friday’s TVG race from post 10.

“He seems good,” Smedshammer said. “He’s been in training; he hasn’t been any fast miles. I’m probably going to train him a little bit quicker (Tuesday). He looks good and healthy. We’ll see when he starts racing. It’s a tough bunch of horses there. I don’t expect him to beat them, but you’ve got to start racing him and getting him back in shape.”

Among Friday’s tough bunch are Jimmy Takter’s Uncle Peter and Guccio. Uncle Peter has two wins and three second-place finishes in his last five starts and on June 8 set the world record of 1:51 1/5 for 4-year-olds on a five-eighths-mile track with a win in the preferred at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. On June 15, Guccio won the preferred and equaled his stablemate’s mark.

“It’s going to be really tough racing in the next few months with these aged horses,” Takter said. “It’s a fantastic group; the best group I’ve ever seen in depth. I bet there are seven or eight horses that can go under (1):51. I’ve got a feeling they might break the (1):50 mark this year.”

Following is the field for the third round of the TVG Free For All Championship series with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Uncle Peter, David Miller, Jimmy Takter; 2. Wishing Stone, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke; 3. Sevruga, Andy Miller, Julie Miller; 4. Undercover Strike, David Miller, Tony O’Sullivan; 5. Guccio, Jimmy Takter, Takter; 6. Big Sky Storm, Jordan Stratton, Allan Johnson; 7. Knows Nothing, Mark MacDonald, Jeff Gillis; 8. Market Share, Tim Tetrick, Linda Toscano; 9. Another Amaretto, Mike Lachance, Jerry Silverman; 10. Arch Madness, Trond Smedshammer, Smedshammer.

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