10/10/2016 3:25PM

Yonkers: On Track Piraten set for another try at Yonkers International Trot

On Track Piraten

Whether racing, training, or being an ambassador for harness racing, Sweden’s On Track Piraten puts his best foot forward. The popular 8-year-old gelding hopes to win over more fans in the U.S. this weekend when he competes for the second time in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Yonkers Raceway.

The draw for Saturday’s Yonkers International Trot is Tuesday afternoon. On Track Piraten is one of three European horses returning for the 1-1/4 mile event at The Hilltop, along with Norway’s BBS Sugarlight and Italy’s Oasis Bi. Completing the 10-horse field are Sweden’s Explosive De Vie, Canada’s Flanagan Memory, Finland’s Jonesy, Denmark’s Tano Bork and U.S. representatives Hannelore Hanover, Obrigado and Resolve.

Last year, On Track Piraten finished seventh in the International Trot after a three-wide move early in the race put the gelding in front, but unable to get to the inside. He then raced first-over heading to the final turn before dropping back.

Norway’s Papagayo E won the race, but is unable to return this year because of injury.

“Coming to the International Trot last year was a great experience,” On Track Piraten’s trainer Hans Strömberg said in a video produced by Kristin Riise Ødegård for this year’s event. “We were so well taken care of and welcomed by the track. Piraten didn’t do too good in the race, he had quite a bad trip, but anyhow we were really satisfied that we traveled over. We were really impressed with the whole event.

“Actually, I think it’s an honor to get an invitation. It shows you have a really good horse. We never hesitated when we were invited again this year. This really is a big thing for us.”

A son of stallion Kool Du Caux out of the Rite On Line-sired Monrovia, On Track Piraten has won 27 of 94 career races and earned the U.S.-equivalent of $1.63 million. This year, he has won six of 17 starts and hit the board a total of 12 times. He had back-to-back second-place finishes in Group 1 events before making an uncharacteristic break at the start of the Group 1 UET Masters Championship on Sept. 18.

The gelding is owned by Sweden’s Stall Mörkermasse and Stall CK HB.

“On Track Piraten came to me in the fall of his 2-year-old season,” Strömberg said. “He was the nicest horse I’d seen actually. I said at once that he’d become a real star. In my eyes, his appearance was just perfect and when we started racing, he quickly showed he was a real racehorse too.

“He’s been really important to me. Not everyone gets to train a horse like this one. I feel like he just keeps on getting better. He’s a dream horse to train. His strength is that he has no weaknesses. He’s good at the start and he always finishes well. Training him really is a pleasure.”

On Track Piraten’s training routine includes being ridden and he has done jumping and dressage in addition to participating in a local parade.

“It’s a different way of training and it also makes them use different muscles,” Strömberg said. “Here in Sweden, our horses have long careers and we train under saddle too. For us, riding is a good complement to our ordinary training.

“He’s very popular and when he races on our home track here in Rättvik, he attracts a big crowd. He’s very important for racing here and for our local community.”

The International Trot was first held in 1959 and held through 1995. The event was resurrected last year by Yonkers Raceway President and CEO Tim Rooney.

-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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