Iceland, a son of Hambletonian champion Scarlet Knight, won the Elitlopp final Sunday afternoon at the Solvalla track in Stockholm, scoring in 1:53.2 with a savvy drive by Johnny Takter. Torvald Palema, the defending champ, finished second and Brioni was third.
Iceland finished second in the elim won by Torvald Palema and when driver Orjan Kihlstrom elected to stick with Triton Sund in the final, trainer-owner Stefan Melander tapped Takter to drive Iceland, a 6-year-old stallion out of the Probe mare Grandezza Ri. Then Melander picked post five for his horse.
Melander and Takter knew that the horses starting inside--Brioni, Ilaria Jet, Torvald Palema and Triton Sund--couldn't measure up to Iceland in gate speed, so Takter was prepared to leave fast, and he did. Iceland got a huge jump on the field, leading by as many as five or six lengths in the opening quarter. Brioni settled second at the pylons with Torvald Palema third. Triton Sund broke stride at the start and took himself out of the battle.
Iceland continued with an honest tempo and going past the grandstand to the half Erik Adielsson made a bold four-wide move to the front with Nu Pagadi, a 5-year-old son of Love You. Nu Pagadi trotted up alongside Iceland and applied pressure through the middle portion of hte mile, but then tired.
Coming out of the last turn, Takter shook up Iceland a little and despite the late charges from Brioni and Torvald Palema (who raced second-over), Iceland hung tough and won by a comfortable margin, which prompted Takter to pump his fist to the friendly, hometown crowd.
Iceland's winning time was 1:53.2 (1:10, 5), with his last 500 meters reportedly in 1:08,7.
Iceland will likely receive an invitation to the U.S. Breeders Crown, set to be held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in October.