Hightstown, NJ — Fans got their first look at Swedish-bred trotter Darling Mearas during Saturday’s (May 11) qualifiers at The Meadowlands Racetrack, but they will have to wait a little longer than anticipated to see the 6-year-old mare in her first race in North America.
Darling Mearas, who earned $750,199 in Europe and counted the 2016 Swedish Trotting Oaks and 2018 European Championship for mares among her wins, posted a 1:56.1 victory in her Big M qualifier for trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. But Svanstedt was not completely happy with the performance, so he plans to delay Darling Mearas’ debut, which was expected to come in Monday’s (May 20) first round of the Miss Versatility Series at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“She trained back good but when she qualified, I was not a hundred percent satisfied with her,” said Svanstedt, who took over the training of Darling Mearas following her arrival in the U.S. earlier this spring. “We’re not going to race her yet. We’re going to wait a couple of weeks. Her gait was not perfect in the last turn. She must feel a little bit better.”
Darling Mearas, a daughter of Cantab Hall out of the Muscles Yankee mare Khao Manee, won 12 of 29 races in Europe for trainer Stefan Persson and breeder-owner Snogarps Gård, a farm run by the Wihlborg family. The family might be best known to North American racing fans as the owner of 2014 Breeders Crown champion Commander Crowe, who earned $5.09 million worldwide in his career.
Calle Wihlborg told Sweden’s Sulky Sport magazine the decision to send Darling Mearas to North America was made in part because she would have more opportunities to race in stakes events restricted to mares. Svanstedt was selected as the trainer because “purely historically, he has been very good at getting older horses to take another step.”
Darling Mearas is staked to a number of Grand Circuit events this season, including the Breeders Crown, Armbro Flight, Dr. John R. Steele Memorial, and the TVG Championship.
“The plan is to race her here this summer and then breed her with a top stallion here in America next spring,” Svanstedt said. “She is a good horse. She was one of the best mares and she was a good horse in the stakes races when she was young. She has a lot of power and she wants to do the job. She is always nice to drive and if you ask her, she does the job.”