05/06/2016 3:05PM

Meadowlands: Shoeless Resolve aims for Elitlopp Playoff win

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Resolve banked over $700,000 last season.

If Mars Blackmon were to handicap Sunday’s inaugural $150,000 Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff at the Meadowlands, he might have difficulty putting his finger on Resolve’s success. Because unlike the fictional Blackmon’s proclamation that “It’s gotta be the shoes” to explain Michael Jordan’s prowess, Resolve is at his best barefoot.

Last year, Resolve won four of 13 races and hit the board a total of 12 times on his way to $700,938 for owner Hans Enggren and trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. 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.

He received Canada’s O’Brien Award for best older male trotter.

The 5-year-old Resolve is part of an all-star field of nine entered in the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff. The race winner will receive an invitation to the Elitlopp at Solvalla Racecourse in Sweden on May 29. The Playoff is scheduled for race one on Sunday’s matinee program with a post time of 12:40 p.m. It will be broadcast live on national television in Sweden and anchors a six-race trotting block that will make up the V64 wager in Sweden.

Resolve will start Sunday from post four and is 10-1 on the morning line. In his only start this season, Resolve finished fourth in the Open Handicap on April 22 at the Meadowlands, behind Playoff contenders Bee A Magician, Gural Hanover, and Shake It Cerry. Racing with shoes on for his seasonal debut, he was last at the halfway point, but finished strong with a :53 4/5 final half-mile.

On Sunday, the shoes will be off.

“In his first race, he had a bad post (six) but he came home very fast,” Svanstedt said. “He feels good. I think he is in good form; he is in good shape. He has had two weeks to get ready and he feels good when he trained.

“Now we are going to race him without shoes and he’s much faster without shoes. And now we have a good post. If everything is normal he is going to do a good race.”

Bee A Magician is the Playoff’s 9-5 morning line favorite, starting from post seven with Brian Sears driving for trainer Richard “Nifty” Norman. The winner of 42 of 66 career races and $3.72 million, Bee A Magician captured her only start this season, the aforementioned Open Handicap at the Meadowlands on April 22.

JL Cruze, undefeated in three races this year, is the 2-1 second choice from post one with John Campbell at the lines for trainer Eric Ell.

The 6-year-old Bee A Magician was the 2013 Horse of the Year in the U.S. and Canada and the 2015 Dan Patch Award winner for best older female trotter. JL Cruze, who is a 5-year-old, was the 2015 Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter.

JL Cruze is a very good horse and Bee A Magician too,” Svanstedt said. “Now she has a bad post; JL Cruze has a good post. I’m impressed with JL Cruze. He is a big and tough horse. Bee A Magician needs a good trip to win, but (Sears) always gives her a good trip. We’ll see what happens.”

Resolve has won 10 of 40 career races and earned $917,125. Svanstedt was pleased with the stallion’s 2015 campaign, particularly because the horse was unimpressive while training in Florida during the winter.

“I could never dream he would have a year like that when we were training him in Florida last winter,” Svanstedt said. “He trained bad. He made breaks all the time when we trained on the round track. The first time he didn’t make a break was when we qualified him.

“But this winter he trained good; much stronger and better.”

Svanstedt is in his third year of competing in North America. He was Sweden’s Trainer of the Year five times and Driver of the Year on three occasions prior to moving his stable to the U.S. in the winter of 2013. During his career overseas, Svanstedt won many of the top races in Europe, including the Elitlopp twice.

He would enjoy the opportunity to return to Sweden with Resolve for another Elitlopp.

“If he is as good as I hope, we would go,” Svanstedt said.

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

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