by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — It’s been six years since Wim Paal competed in the U.S. and his return will not go unnoticed. Paal, a 58-year-old native of Germany, is back to drive European standout Ringostarr Treb in Saturday’s $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino’s Yonkers Raceway.
Ringostarr Treb, the winner of Sweden’s prestigious Elitloppet in May, is the 4-1 second choice on the morning line behind Marion Marauder at 3-1. An 8-year-old stallion, Ringostarr Treb, a son of stallion Classic Photo, has won 30 of 86 career races and $1.57 million. He is trained by New England native Jerry Riordan, who won last year’s International Trot with Twister Bi, and will represent Italy for owners E.V.A.M. Racing.
“It’s always a big honor to have a horse invited to this kind of race,” Paal said. “I think we have a shot. He is a hell of a horse. I’m really happy to be with him. Hopefully he can do good on Saturday.
“We are just proud to be here. This is what makes life. Not only the sport, life. What they do here at Yonkers brings people together. We should do that much more often. It’s unique. It’s a big thing.”
Paal, who has enjoyed a 40-year career as a driver and trainer, is no stranger to the International Trot. He drove Every Way to a sixth-place finish in the 1987 edition of the invitational, which was won by Callit. It was the last year the race, which began in 1959, was held at Roosevelt before moving to Yonkers. The race was discontinued following the 1995 edition, but resurrected in 2015.
In addition to their Elitloppet triumph, Ringostarr Treb and Paal won this year’s Group 1 Olympiatravet.
“He’s stepped up in class every year,” Paal said of Ringostarr Treb. “When he went to Jerry, he stepped up in class again. I must say, the horse is a very smart horse. He can handle every kind of track and can do it either from the lead or with cover. It doesn’t make a big difference. If I have cover, and I have a horse that sets the pace where he can come out the last quarter (mile), I think he is best that way.”
Paal grew up on a farm near Dusseldorf and started riding ponies at a young age before going into show jumping. At the age of 15, he began working with trotters. He won his first race in 1977.
“I grew up step by step with horses,” he said.
After working in Germany, he opened a stable in Italy in 1989. Four years later, he won the Gran Premio Lotteria and Gran Premio Renzo Orlandi with Embassy Lobell and in 1995 he won four Group 2 events in Italy with Toss Out.
Following additional successes in Italy, Paal opened a stable in France in 1999. He moved to the U.S. in 2006, while maintaining stables in Europe, and remained a presence in the States until the middle of 2012. He has operated a stable in Sweden since 2015.
“I enjoy coming back to the United States and New York City,” Paal said. “I liked a lot being here. It was a good experience. I’m proud that I tried it because it gives me a good feeling to know how it works in the United States. Now I’m in Sweden and we have pretty good horses.”
Capturing Sweden’s most renowned race, the Elitlopp, was a thrill for Paal, who competed in the race seven times prior to his victory with Ringostarr Treb.
“For me it meant a lot,” Paal said. “You know the best horses in the world are getting an invitation. I could make it thanks to a great horse and thanks to great work that Jerry did. We are proud.
“I’m working three years now in Sweden and it helps a little bit when you win the biggest race in the country where you work,” he added.
All of his experiences have Paal feeling like a man half his age.
“I’m 58, but I feel like 30,” he said, smiling. “Things are going good right now.”
Racing at Yonkers begins at 1 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. The International Trot is race No. 8 on the card and scheduled for 3:40 p.m. The day also includes the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot, featuring the fastest trotter in history, Homicide Hunter, plus the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace, featuring the continued rivalry between McWicked and New Zealand-bred Lazarus.
Following is the field in post-position order for the $1 million Yonkers International Trot.
1-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-3/1
2-Up And Quick-Jason Bartlett-Antoine Lherete-10/1
3-Ariana G-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-5/1
4-Ringostarr Treb-Wim Paal-Jerry Riordan-4/1
5-Pastore Bob-Johan Untersteiner-Johan Untersteiner-8/1
6-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-12/1
7-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-6/1
8-Arazi Boko-Alessandro Gocciadoro-Alessandro Gocciadoro-15/1
9-Lionel-Goran Antonsen-Daniel Reden-10/1
10-Slide So Easy-Flemming Jensen-Flemming Jensen-15/1
* Lionel and Slide So Easy start from the second tier.
For more information, visit www.internationaltrot.com.
- Riordan brings Elitlopp winner Ringostarr Treb to International Trot (Friday, October 05, 2018)
Winning the Elitlopp this year with Ringostarr Treb was surreal for Jerry Riordan, but the trainer quickly realized the experience wasn’t for the claustrophobic. Just after the race, Riordan and driver Wim Paal led Ringostarr Treb up the track along the outside rail. The track apron at Solvalla is elevated from the racing surface and the thousands of fans along the fence leaned over and reached out. Their extended arms hung over the trainer, driver, and horse, enclosing them in a tunnel of humanity. The newly crowned Elitlopp winner took it all in stride.
- Marion Marauder is favored in Yonkers International Trot (Tuesday, October 09, 2018)
Marion Marauder, who finished second in last year’s $1 million Yonkers International Trot, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in Saturday’s (Oct. 13) 40th edition of the invitational, which will be raced at 1-1/4 miles at Empire City Casino’s Yonkers Raceway. The 5-year-old stallion, representing Canada, was made the top choice after getting post No. 1 on Tuesday at the event’s draw and press conference at Manhattan’s 21 Club.
- Yonkers International Trot leads this week’s Grand Circuit action (Wednesday, October 10, 2018)
This week’s marquee event on the Grand Circuit is the $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino, which will be held on Saturday (Oct. 13) at Yonkers Raceway. A field of 10 top trotters will head to the gate in the Yonkers International.
- Takter seeks International Trot victory with Ariana G (Wednesday, October 10, 2018)
Jimmy Takter will start Ariana G in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot. The 4-year-old mare will represent the United States for owners Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld. One of the last of the 10 competitors to be announced, Takter accepted the invitation from Yonkers Raceway race secretary Steve Starr just after her win in the Dayton Trotting Derby Sept. 28.
- Drivers to study for International test (Thursday, October 11, 2018)
North American drivers participating in Saturday’s (Oct. 13) $1 million Yonkers International Trot face several challenges as they prepare for the event, most notably learning about their rivals — and in some cases their own horse — in addition to contemplating the best path to victory in a 10-horse field going 1-1/4 miles.
- Owners aim high with ‘underdog’ Slide So Easy (Friday, October 12, 2018)
No matter the outcome for Denmark’s Slide So Easy in Saturday’s (Oct. 13) $1 million Yonkers International Trot, owners Soren Christensen and Thomas Clemmensen are going to enjoy the experience of participating in the event. Christensen readily admits his 9-year-old gelding is the race’s underdog, but is hoping for a strong effort and a little luck.
- Grazing in the grass before $1 million International Trot (Friday, October 12, 2018)
Yonkers Raceway does not have a turf course — the last anyone checked — but that didn’t stop some of the participants for Saturday afternoon’s (Oct. 13) $1 million Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino.