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FRENCH INTERNATIONAL FAVE

By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media France’s Etonnant, who earlier this year won the Elitloppet, drew post seven for Saturday’s $1 million MGM Yonkers International Trot and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite in the invitational event that will bring together 10 horses from seven countries at Yonkers Raceway.

The race will be contested at the distance of 1-1/4 miles, with the horses in posts nine and 10 starting from the second tier. The draw for the event was conducted Tuesday at the Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan.

A son of the stallion Timoko, who finished second in the 2015 International Trot, Etonnant will have Anthony Barrier in the sulky for owner/trainer Richard Westerink. He has won 20 of 81 races and earned more than $2 million.

Most recently, Etonnant won at Vincennes on Sept. 10 at the 2,700-meter distance and has finished no worse than second in his previous five starts.

“I feel good,” Westerink said. “The horse is good. We’ll see if he can take the turns over here. We’ll see in a couple of days. It’s a little track for him.

“He’s a very tough horse with a lot of speed. He is very strong. I think we can be maybe three wide and that’s not a problem.”

The Ake Svanstedt-trained duo of Denmark’s Ecurie D and the United States’ Back Of The Neck will start side-by-side in posts five and six, respectively.

Ecurie D, who won this year’s Arthur J. Cutler Memorial in 1:49.1, the season’s fastest mile, and captured last year’s Breeders Crown Open Trot, is 3-1. Svanstedt will drive.

Back Of The Neck has won two of five starts this season, with the victories coming in the Maple Leaf Trot and Dayton Trotting Derby in his two most recent outings. Tim Tetrick will be at the lines for Back Of The Neck, who is 7-2.

“(The draw) could be better, but it could be worse also, so I’m happy,” said Svanstedt, who won the 2016 International Trot with Resolve. “I think we have two good horses. Of course, it comes down to position and you must have a little luck also. You always need a little luck in the big races to win. But I like both of my horses and their post positions.”

Denmark’s Tycoon Conway Hall got post one and is 4-1. Kasper Foget is listed to drive for trainer Steen Juul.

Zacon Gio, who won the most recent International Trot in 2019, is back to defend his title after the event suffered two pandemic-related cancelations. Zacon Gio, who will have Roberto Vecchione driving for trainer Holger Ehlert, is 9-2.

Rounding out the field are Norway’s Cokstile, the 2020 Elitloppet winner, who is 5-1, and Stoletheshow (8-1), Sweden’s Kennedy (8-1), Canada’s Lovedbythemasses (10-1), and the U.S.’ second entrant, It’s Academic (12-1).

There also will be two $250,000 invitationals — the MGM Aria Pace and MGM Robert Miecuna Trot — on the International Trot Day card. Both will go with 10-horse fields and be raced at the distance of 1-1/4 miles.

The $1 million MGM Yonkers International Trot (race seven) is scheduled for 3 p.m. (EDT) Saturday. It will be the first leg of a $20,000 guaranteed Late Pick-4 (in conjunction with the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program), which also includes the Aria Pace and Robert Miecuna Trot as races eight and 10.

Below are the fields, in post position order, for the $1 million MGM Yonkers International Trot, the $250,000 Aria Pace and the $250,000 Robert Miecuna Trot.

$1 million Yonkers International Trot
To be raced at 1-1/4 miles
1. Tycoon Conway Hall, Kasper Foget, Steen Juul, 4-1
2. Lovedbythemasses, Todd McCarthy, Jeff Cullipher, 10-1
3. Cokstile, Vincenzo Dell’Annunziata, Mattia Orlando, 5-1
4. Stoletheshow, Frode Hamre, Frode Hamre, 8-1
5. Ecurie D, Ake Svanstedt, Ake Svanstedt, 3-1
6. Back Of The Neck, Tim Tetrick, Ake Svanstedt, 7-2
7. Etonnant, Anthony Barrier, Richard Westerink, 5-2
8. It’s Academic, David Miller, Ron Burke, 12-1
9. Kennedy, Jason Bartlett, Erik Bondo, 8-1
10. Zacon Gio, Roberto Vecchione, Holger Ehlert, 9-2

$250,000 MGM Aria Invitational Pace
To be raced at 1-1/4 miles
1. This Is The Plan
2. American Courage
3. None Bettor A
4. Charlie May
5. Ignatius A
6. Poseidon Seelster
7. Funatthebeach N
8. Leonidas A
9. Semi Tough
10. Nandolo N

$250,000 MGM Robert Miecuna Invitational Trot
To be raced at 1-1/4 miles
1. Lean Hanover
2. Smoking Jet
3. Hillexotic
4. When Dovescry
5. Amigo Volo
6. Herculisa
7. Stormy Kromer
8. Take All Comers
9. Bella Bellini
10. Incommunicado
AE: Nows The Moment

Horses in posts nine and 10 start from the second tier.

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