Toronto -- Swedish star Commander Crowe is the first foreign horse to accept an invitation to the Breeders Crown in successive years and his connections hope to see Europe’s top trotter make the return trip memorable.
Commander Crowe is the 5-2 second choice in Saturday’s $600,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot. He will start from post four in the six-horse field, with Christophe Martens at the lines for trainer Fabrice Souloy. Chapter Seven, who won last season’s Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters, is the 6-5 morning line favorite.
Last year, Commander Crowe finished third behind San Pail, the eventual Horse of the Year in both Canada and the U.S., and France’s Rapide Lebel despite racing outside for every step of the mile.
So far this year, Commander Crowe has won nine of 13 races, including the prestigious Elitlopp and Oslo Grand Prix, while earning $1.59 million.
For his career, the 9-year-old chestnut gelding – nicknamed Le Grand Blonde – has won $3.88 million and ranks eighth in purses among all trotters in history. Next on the list is Mack Lobell, who won Breeders Crown titles at ages 2, 3 and 4, and is the sire of Commander Crowe’s dam Somack.
“Last year he was good, but not at the level he is now,” Souloy said. “I think now he is much better than last year. The only negative point is that he might be a little down because it is the end of the season.
“(But) this year we changed his training; he trained in the deep sand and he gets so much better. He’s much better this year.”
The last invited foreign horse to win the Breeders Crown Open Trot was Italian sensation Varenne, who captured the trophy with a then-world-record 1:51.1 at the Meadowlands.
“It’s very important, if you can win a Breeders Crown,” Martens said. “It’s something like the Elitlopp. (Winning) the Elitlopp was a big moment, but after that race it’s the Breeders Crown in Canada, otherwise we don’t come back here. It was great last year. We were so happy with the third place, and I think this year I can do a little bit better.”
To watch a video with Commander Crowe and his connections, click here:https://vimeo.com/52263742Co-owner Jean-Francois Panier, trainer Fabrice Souloy and driver Christophe Martens