To watch a race replay of the MGM Yonkers Trot click here.
Yonkers, NY — Johan Palema and driver Yannick Gingras captured the $500,000 MGM Yonkers Trot, the first jewel in the Trotting Triple Crown for 3-year-olds, on Friday night (July 2) with a virtuoso wire-to-wire performance, winning in 1:55 over a rain-soaked surface at Yonkers Raceway.
Johan Palema, one of three finalists from the Ake Svanstedt stable, worked his way to the top from stablemate Ambassador Hanover off the first turn, as second choice Ahundreddollarbill settled in third, with Mon Amour and In Range following the top three to the :28.2 opening quarter.
Gingras rated the pace nicely but shortly before the half of :58, Johan Palema took off from the pocket-sitter, as well as the rest of the field. Ahundreddollarbill was forced to pull from third and go without cover, but he found the sledding a bit too tough as Johan Palema blitzed the third quarter in :27.2. The third quarter sprint kept In Range from gaining second-over, but driver Tim Tetrick was able to get his horse to make up ground inside as Mon Amour made a miscue.
Gingras hardly moved a muscle through the final turn as the others battled for minor honors, and the son of Bar Hopping cruised across the wire with a :29.3 final quarter. In Range skimmed the pylons but fell a nose short of second, with Ambassador Hanover and Svanstedt holding the place spot. Ahundreddollarbill faded to fourth, with Ethan T Hanover the final check-getter.
“I got an easy front,” said Gingras following the race. “They let me steal a half in :58 seconds. At that point, come and get me.”
Seven tried but none were up to the task.
Owned by Bender Sweden Inc., Johan Palema, one of four horses in the field sired by first-cropper Bar Hopping, won for the third time in four starts in 2021, adding the win to his elimination score seven days earlier. As the favorite, Johan Palema returned $3.90, $2.60, and $2.30 across the board. Runner-up Ambassador Hanover paid $4.10 and $3.10, and In Range returned $4.60 to show. The exacta was worth $12 and the triple paid $65.50.
Johan Palema is a Hambletonian eligible.
“He can go with the top horses,” said Gingras. “I’m not sure if he can cut it on the big track, but he’s very handy.”
The $1 million Hambletonian is slated for Aug. 7 at The Meadowlands.