Yonkers, NY — Guardian Angel AS and Marion Marauder have enjoyed success at Empire City Casino’s Yonkers Raceway in the past and each will try to add to his accomplishments Saturday (Oct. 12) in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot.
Marion Marauder, whose three lifetime wins at The Hilltop include the 2016 Yonkers Trot, is making his third appearance in the International. He finished second in 2017 and fifth in 2018. Guardian Angel AS, who is heading to his first International, has six career victories on the half-mile oval at Yonkers.
Saturday’s 41st edition of the International Trot brings together an invitational field of 10 older trotters, including 2018 champion Cruzado Dela Noche, representing nine nations. Guardian Angel AS, one of two U.S. representatives, is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line after drawing post nine in the second tier behind the starting gate. Atlanta, the other U.S. rep, is the 3-1 favorite from post three.
Guardian Angel AS has won seven of 12 races this season and earned $664,634 in purses, which leads all older trotters in North America.
The 5-year-old stallion has won at least one race on every sized racetrack in North America this season, including a half-mile world-record 1:52 performance at Northfield Park in the Cleveland Trotting Classic, Canadian-record-equaling 1:50.4 effort in the Maple Leaf Trot at seven-eighths Woodbine Mohawk Park, and a track-record 1:51.3 clocking in the Spirit of Massachusetts at five-eighths Plainridge Park.
For his career, Guardian Angel AS has won 23 of 52 starts and $1.18 million. He is trained by Anette Lorentzon, driven by Tim Tetrick, and owned by ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson.
Guardian Angel AS will start from the second tier for the second consecutive race, having left from the trailing position in the Caesars Trotting Classic on Sept. 20 at Harrah’s Hoosier Park. He finished third.
“I’d rather have my nose on the gate, that way I’d have a fair shot at using his gate speed if I want,” Tetrick said. “(Post) 10 would have been better, where I don’t get locked in along the rail. But, that’s what God gave us, so we just have to work with it.
“Anytime you get to race for a million, it’s pretty awesome. Yonkers is a very historic track and I enjoy getting to race here every time I come here.”
Marion Marauder, a 6-year-old stallion, is seeking his first win in 2019. He has won 20 of 60 career races and earned $3.21 million for trainer Paula Wellwood and owners Marion Jean Wellwood and Devin Keeling. He was the 2016 Trotter of the Year after sweeping the Triple Crown.
He was entered to race Sept. 30 at Mohawk but was scratched.
“He had a temperature and hopefully that’s under control,” driver Scott Zeron said. “He’s come into big events with three or four weeks off before, so I’m not worried about the layoff.”
Marion Marauder has raced six times at Yonkers and finished worse than second only once.
“He’s gotten around this track a bunch of times and has done well,” Zeron said. “He’s a relentless horse; he tries every time he gets out there. He’s had an off year for the way he’s been his whole career, so we’re just hoping things are going to change. Hopefully I can trip him out and drive him the right way.
“(The foreign horses) are very good. They can stay on the outside and take a lot of air, when a lot of our horses, we’ve just never taught them that type of system. You can’t underestimate any of them.”
Atlanta is one of three mares in the International Trot field, with France’s Bahia Quesnot and Switzerland’s Uza Josselyn. Bahia Quesnot, who starts from post two, and Uza Josselyn, who leaves from post four, are both 5-1 on the morning line.
In August, Uza Josselyn won the Group 1 Prix Maharajah at Solvalla in Sweden, with Bahia Quesnot finishing second in the championship event for trotting mares. Earlier in the year, Uza Josselyn finished second in the Group 1 Prix de France at a distance roughly equivalent to the 1-1/4 miles for the International. The Prix de France was won by Readly Express, with Bold Eagle third and Dijon (who later won the Elitlopp) fourth.
For her career, the 8-year-old Uza Josselyn has won 32 of 70 races and $1.41 million.
“She had some very good races in France going against the best horses over the same distance,” said Barbara Aebischer, the caretaker of Uza Josselyn and wife of trainer Rene Aebischer. “It’s her distance on Saturday, so we hope she does as well as there.
“She always does very well. She always gives her best. She really goes with the heart.”
Bahia Quesnot most recently finished second to Propulsion in the Group 2 European Trotting Masters championship. She enters the International off three consecutive second-place efforts, with another Group 2 runner-up finish sandwiched between the Trotting Masters final and Prix Maharajah.
Also an 8-year-old, Bahia Quesnot has won eight of 84 lifetime starts and $1.01 million. She has finished second on 16 occasions.
“She’s been doing really good,” said Paola Guelpa, Bahia Quesnot’s caretaker and the sister of trainer/driver Junior Guelpa, through a translator. “We got her in training in December last year and we have been working on her morale. She is very happy now and that’s probably why she has been doing so well. Hopefully, she will get her big day soon.”
The International Trot has been won by a mare 11 times, most recently by Peace Corps in 1991. The International Trot was contested from 1959 through 1995 before being resurrected in 2015.
Italy’s Zacon Gio enters the International as the field’s hottest horse, with 11 consecutive victories. This will be the 4-year-old stallion’s first time racing outside of Italy. He has won 20 of 29 career races and $496,834.
“He’s just a really good horse,” trainer Holger Ehlert said through a translator. “He’s getting better and better and he knows how to do anything. He can wait, he can go on the lead, he can do any tactic.
“I hope he gets a good race. It’s not going to be easy because there are a lot of good horses, but my horse is very good too.”
Racing begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at Yonkers Raceway. The International Trot is race seven with a 3 p.m. (EDT) approximate post time. The card also includes the $250,000 Harry Harvey Trot (race eight) and the $250,000 Dan Rooney Pace (race 11).
Following is the field in post-position order for the $1 million Yonkers International Trot.
1-Slide So Easy-Ake Svanstedt-Flemming Jensen-10/1
2-Bahia Quesnot-Junior Guelpa-Junior Guelpa-5/1
3-Atlanta-Yannick Gingras-Ron Burke-3/1
4-Uza Josselyn-Erik Adielsson-Rene Aebischer-5/1
5-Zacon Gio-Roberto Vecchione-Holger Ehlert-8/1
6-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-6/1
7-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-8/1
8-Lionel-Goran Antonsen-Goran Antonsen-8/1
*9-Guardian Angel AS-Tim Tetrick-Anette Lorentzon-4/1
*10-Norton Commander-Conni Lugauer-Conni Lugauer-15/1
*Guardian Angel AS and Norton Commander start from the second tier.
For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com.