Timoko and Bjorn Goop (leading the field the first time around in the Prix de France) teamed up to win the Criterium de Vitesse at Cagnes-sur-Mer in France last Sunday. | Gerard Forni

Timoko dominates Criterium de Vitesse again

The French trotter won the French race for the third year in a row and fourth time in five years.

by Thomas Hedlund

For the fourth time in five years, Timoko has won Europe’s initial big mile race of the season.

With the Swedish driver Björn Goop at the controls, Timoko won the €200,000 Criterium de Vitesse on Sunday (March 12) at Cagnes-sur-Mer in France in 1:51.4.

Over the mile, Timoko has been hard to beat, especially in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Goop was aware of how some of the opponents were thinking and did not sacrifice too much to get in a fight over the lead in the beginning of the race. Instead, the 41-year-old Swedish champion driver waited until after the first turn before he let Timoko pass the early leader Oasis Bi. When he is in front, Timoko fights and even if Un Mec d’Heripre and Jean-Michel Bazire tried to challenge on the home stretch, there were never any discussion about who would win Criterium de Vitesse this year.

It was the third Criterium de Vitesse victory in a row for Timoko, who crossed the line with a new stakes record of 1:51.4 for the mile. The son of Imoko out of the And Arifant mare Kiss Me Coulonces made history by equaling the great Ourasi’s exploit of winning Criterium de Vitesse four times. Un Mec d’Heripre finished second and Red Rose America took the third place.

“I was more stressed today compared to the last time Timoko raced,” Timoko’s trainer Richard Westerink said after the victory. “Maybe I felt like that because the horse in unbeaten on this track. We saw a great race and I knew that my horse wouldn’t let anyone pass him when he was in front. If Timoko continues like this, it will be wonderful to go to the Elitlopp in May.”

The next big target for the 10-year old champion likely will be The Elitlopp at Solvalla — a race where Timoko has one victory in five starts.

Timoko is a unique horse. The trotter, generally speaking, competed on the highest of levels since he started his career as a two-year old in August, 2009.

Westerink, from The Netherlands, took care of the reigns in the horse’s debut years and during 2010 the duo had some great moments on the track.

Timoko won the two Group I races — the €240,000 Criterium des 3 ans and the €200,000 Prix Albert View — and followed up by winning the five first races as a four-year old, including two group I races — the €240,000 Prix de Selection and €240,000 Criterium des 4 ans.

On Track Piraten tough in Sweden

On Track Piraten was defeated at Yonkers Raceway in October last year, but since then, the Swedish nine-year old gelding has never lost a race in Sweden.

Last Saturday (March 11), the son of Kool du Caux won his ninth race in a row with driver Johnny Takter in the “Gold division” at Bollnäs racetrack. It was the 104th start of On Track Piraten’s career.

The trotter finished fourth in the Yonkers International Trot in October 2016 and the charismatic gelding seems to go towards a new great season, a season that already has started with five wins in five attempts.

We are talking about a complete racehorse and so far this year, On Track Piraten has been winning over the distances of a mile, two 5/8ths and 2.5 5/8ths of a mile. His seasonal record is 1:53.4 and he’s earned a little more than $100,000 in 2017.

In total, On Track Piraten has $1,595,000 in earnings and 36 victories.