Papagayo E wins International Trot

Norway takes first place at the Yonkers Raceway event for a prize of one million dollars

Photo: Eirik Stenhaug / VG  Papagayo E in January with trainers Kristian Waaler and Ragnhild Diesen.

Photo: Eirik Stenhaug / VG
Papagayo E in January with trainers Kristian Waaler and Ragnhild Diesen.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

The stakes were higher than ever before when 10 horses competed in the one and a quarter mile classic race at the International Trot this year; for the first time in the event’s history, the purse was set at one million dollars. After a 20-year hiatus, the harness racing event returned to New York’s Yonkers Raceway on October 10.

Two of the horses hailed from Norway: Papagayo E and B.B.S. Sugarlight. The other eight included two from the U.S., Sweden, and Italy, and one each from Canada and France.

Canada’s Bee A Magician was widely considered to be the favorite, but Norway had high hopes for Papagayo, who set the Norwegian record earlier this year when he won the Kjell P. Dahlström memorial race in Sweden.

The five-year-old stallion is owned by Tom Andersen and Claes Sjolin, trained by Jan Waaler, and driven by Ulf Ohlsson.

“We have not made the long trip to give the horse a passive race. Ohlsson is ordered to give full speed from the start and around the first turn,” said Andersen before the race.

When the race began, Creatine of the U.S., driven by Johnny Takter, quickly took the lead in the number one position. Ohlsson noticed his speed and quickly moved Papagayo into the pocket behind the American horse.

Then while Creatine was focused on holding off the quickly advancing Timoko of France, driven by Bjorn Goop, Ohlsson moved Papagayo out of the pocket and into the passing lane.

“I saw Timoko on the outside coming with power, but I knew that I had more. My only concern was Creatine going long enough that we wouldn’t be able to get through on the rail. If he didn’t last, we might have had a problem, but he lasted. I felt really good the whole way—the tempo in the race was perfect. The horse was feeling good and once we came down the stretch, I could really feel his power,” said Ohlsson.

This was Papagayo’s first time in a passing lane, but Ohlsson had the experience necessary to use this opportunity to get ahead and take the lead. Crossing the finish line a half-length in front of Timoko, Papagayo won the $1 million race with a time of 2:26 for Norway’s first ever win in the International Trot.

Creatine came in third place, followed by Oasis Bi and driver Orjan Kihlstrom of Sweden in fourth, and B.B.S. Sugarlight and driver Johan Untersteiner in fifth.

“This was great,” Andersen said. “Just know that I feel we have the best horse in the world.”

Papagayo E proudly paraded around in front of the large group of satisfied Norwegian fans, all waving their flags, but refused go into the winner’s circle to have his picture taken. According to Andersen, it’s not that he’s camera shy but rather that he prefers to keep moving after a race.

And Andersen knows his personality well by now—he and Sjolin have owned Papagayo since his birth. They are extremely loyal to the stallion, refusing to sell him even though many people have offered to buy the horse for sums up to three million euro.

“We want to keep the horse and be with Papagayo throughout his whole career. I have been involved in racing for 40 years, and I cannot sell now that we finally have a superhorse,” commented Andersen.

When the world champion horse finally returned to his home stables at Vivested in Re after his long journey, he was graciously welcomed home with a celebration of his success—and even some cake.

“We come from this little nook in the woods, and we put them in their place in the U.S. There were big boys down there, both coaches and coachmen. I still have to pinch myself to realize that we won,” said trainer Waaler.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 13, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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