USA hopes rest on Ariana G in Yonkers International Trot

by John Cirillo

Yonkers, NY — The ladies have been champions of women’s rights to win in the famed International Trot, indelibly etching their names among the greatest performers in the history of the global classic. The American standouts, two-time winner Delmonica Hanover and Classical Way; and the French flag-carriers Une de Mai and Roquepine, both two-time titlists. The names ring true to rank among the greatest of International Trot champions.

Canadian stalwarts Armbro Flight and Fresh Yankee are part of that history, too. These mares dominated the boys, an assault on the best male trotters in the world by winning six in a row and eight of nine International titles from 1966-74, before the six-year gap to Classical Way in 1980. Upon the move of the International to Yonkers Raceway in 1988, Kit Lobell (1989) and Peace Corps (1991) added their signatures to the ladies tour de force.

This sets the stage for this year’s United States flag-carrier Ariana G, the 4-year-old mare who shoulders the hopes of America in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 13). The millionaire twice-over has 26 career victories in 37 starts, good for a 70 percent win percentage. Owned by Marvin Katz and Al Libfeld, the homebred daughter of Muscle Hill and granddaughter of Muscles Yankee comes off a track-record (1:52.1) effort in the Dayton Trotting Derby, beating the boys, on Sept. 27 with catch-driver Brian Sears in the bike for trainer Jimmy Takter. It was her fifth win in 11 seasonal starts to boost her career earnings to a lofty $2,367,709.

Empire City Casino’s historic oval at Yonkers Raceway becomes the 11th venue where Ariana G has raced, but her first attempt on the half-miler. She’s a two-time Breeders Crown champ, two-time Dan Patch Award recipient, and has a Hambletonian Oaks victory leading her gaudy resume. Now, she prepares to meet the elite trotters in the world.

As Sinatra musically put it: “That’s why the lady is a champ,” and “Luck be a lady, tonight.” Ariana G will try to beat the boys again while carrying the U.S.A. flag on Oct. 13.

Most recently, since the return of the Yonkers International following a 20-year hiatus, the mares Hannelore Hanover (2016) and Bee A Magician (2015) were both thwarted in their attempts to join the ladies brigade of champions.

More history: The powerful, French flag-carrier Ideal du Gazeau, with his white blaze and an amazing burst of speed, was the only three-time International champion under the reins of Eugene Lefevre. Holding his head high in a unique and exciting trotting style, Ideal du Gazeau pulled off the Pat Riley-esque “Three-peat” consecutively in 1981, ’82 and ’83, after finishing second to the American mare Classical Way (John Simpson Jr.) in his debut in 1980. Legendary U.S.A. standard-bearers, the gelding Su Mac Lad (1961 and ’63/Stanley Dancer) and the Del Miller-trained mare Delmonica Hanover (1973-74/Johnny Chapman), and the French champions Roquepine (1967-68) and Un de Mai (1969 and ’71), both mares from France driven by Jean Rene Gougeon, were the quartet of two-time International titlists during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mares won six in a row and eight of nine International titles from 1967-74. Speedy Crown, driven by Howard Beissinger, interrupted the distaff dominance in 1972.

The alphabetical field for the mile-and-a-quarter International Trot, with country of representation:

Arazi Boko (Italy)
Ariana G (United States)
Cruzado Dela Noche (Sweden)
Dreammoko (Netherlands)
Lionel (Norway)
Marion Marauder (Canada)
Pastore Bob (Sweden)
Ringostarr Treb (Italy)
Slide So Easy (Denmark)
Up And Quick (France)

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    The curtain is about to close on the final act of Up And Quick’s racing career and Delon hopes his trotter can deliver one more thrill on the world’s stage. Up And Quick will reach the mandatory retirement age in France when he turns 11 in 2019 and will no longer be able to target France’s biggest trotting spectacle. Instead, Delon set his sights on New York, sending his star across the Atlantic to compete in the $1 million Yonkers International Trot. The representative of France would be the first Prix d’Amérique winner since Lutin d’Isigny in 1985 to win the International Trot.
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    The fact that Marion Marauder found himself invited to participate in the 40th International Trot was unrelated to any new North American trade agreement. He’s just pretty good. Three million dollars takes care of a lot of tariffs on any side of the border. The million-dollar Yonkers International Trot at Empire City Casino goes Saturday afternoon (Oct. 13) with first post at 1 p.m., and you couldn’t legally assemble a field of 10 world-class trotters without including Marion Marauder.
  • Riordan brings Elitlopp winner Ringostarr Treb to International Trot (Friday, October 05, 2018)
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  • Foreign fleet is in for $1 million Yonkers International Trot (Friday, October 05, 2018)
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