EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — International star Ecurie D DK was an impressive winner Saturday in the $650,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot at the Meadowlands Racetrack.
The 5-year-old is 2 for 2 since arriving in the U.S. He won 15 of 21 starts in Europe before winning the Allerage Stakes this month at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky. In the Breeders Crown, he easily handled the top older trotters in North America.
There were a few anxious moments for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt as the 1-2 favorite was bottled up in traffic rounding the second turn. Once they escaped the jam, Ecurie D DK strode powerfully through the lane to beat stablemate Back Of The Neck by 2 1/4 lengths. The time was 1:52. He paid $3 to win.
“He is a really good horse and he could be really great next year,” Svanstedt said.
Few horses can match the global credentials of Ecurie D DK. He was bred by Frenchman Jean Pierre Dubois, sired by Italian stallion Infinitif, registered in Denmark, developed in Norway and owned by Swedes Marko Kreivi Stables, Suleyman Yuksel Stables and Svanstedt.
Ecurie D DK became the fifth European-based trotter to capture the Open Trot, joining Bold Eagle (France, 2019), Commander Crowe (Sweden, 2014), Equinox Bi (Italy, 2007) and Varenne (Italy, 2001).
It remains to be seen if his two striking wins project Ecurie D DK into the Horse of the Year discussion. The results of Saturday’s eight Crowns will carry weight when voters in the U.S. Harness Writers Association cast ballots for the sport’s highest honor.
Several horses turned in wins that could sway the voting, starting with Test Of Faith in the 3-Year-Old Filly Pace. Test of Faith rallied to edge Scarlett Hanover by one length for her 13th win in 15 starts this year for trainer Brett Pelling. She paid $2.60 to win with David Miller in the sulky.
Perfect Sting leads the money parade after earning another $300,000 with his win in the $600,000 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Pace. He leads the sport in earnings this season with $1.27 million.
Perfect Sting had been knocking on the door all year, finishing second in major races like the North America Cup and the Little Brown Jug.
“We’ve been consistent all year but we hadn’t gotten the job done,” winning trainer Joe Holloway said. “We needed to get a signature win and this is a pretty good way to do it.”
Perfect Sting, the 6-5 favorite, wore down Charlie Way by a length for his seventh win in 16 starts this year. He paid $4.40 to win as David Miller got his second Crown of the afternoon. The time for the mile was 1:49 4/5, the same clocking Miller recorded earlier with Test of Faith.
Rocknificent pulled a mild upset in the $330,000 Filly & Mare Pace, beating 1-2 favorite Lyons Sentinel by a half length. It was the second straight win for the 4-year-old over the Lyons Sentinel, who was considered a strong Horse of the Year contender coming into the race. The late season two-race losing streak will likely hurt her candidacy.
Rocknificent polished her resume with a fifth win in 18 races this year. The 5-2 second choice paid $7.40 to win for trainer Linda Toscano and driver Scott Zeron.
In other results: Felicityshagwell S pulled a 10-1 upset in the $300,000 Filly & Mare Trot; Hambletonian Oaks winner Bella Bellini scored a second major win of the season in the $650,000 3-Year-Old Filly Trot; Jujubee posted his 14th victory of the year in the $650,000 3-Year-Old Colt & Gelding Trot with a stakes-record mile in 1:51 2/5 and Ocean Rock was a 16-1 upset winner in the $600,000 Open Pace.