Lucky Jim, North America’s top older trotter last year, with 17 victories in 18 starts and $1.06 million, is getting ready for his trip to Sweden for a shot at the world’s best on May 30 in the Elitlopp. Trainer Julie Miller, whose husband Andy is the 5-year-old gelding’s regular driver, confirmed Monday that they are ready for the trip, but first comes the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands Racetrack. Eliminations for the Cutler are Friday, with the $200,000 final set for May 15.
“Good, good, everything’s a go,” Miller said. “He’s going to be entered (in the Cutler) and we’re looking forward to it.”
Lucky Jim, a son of SJ’s Photo, has been off the racetrack since April 16, when he won the Su Mac Lad Series final in 1:51.1. Lucky Jim has won three of four races this year, earning $116,000.
“We still jogged him, but we really lightened up his schedule,” Miller said. “He only trained twice, not very fast, and mostly got just a lot of paddock time. We’ve really backed off on him quite a bit. He trained fast on Saturday to get ready for the Cutler. Barring no mishaps, everything seems to be fine.”
Miller is busying preparing for the trip across the Atlantic, which is expected to be between May 17-20 for the horse and May 24 for her and husband Andy. Rulebooks are a topic of study right now, says Miller.
“The biggest thing is the different rules and requirements that Sweden has,” she said. “I’m starting to make sure we follow all the guidelines that are given to us.
"Actually, today (Monday) they called and reviewed our flight, so I guess we really are going,” she added with a laugh.
Though the Millers and Lucky Jim are new to Swedish racing, they will have the benefit of someone familiar with the language and racing system.
“Jenny Melander (assistant trainer to Miller’s brother-in-law Erv) is going to be Jim’s caretaker and travel with him,” Miller said. “Since she’s from Sweden, she’s done that trip (across the Atlantic with a horse in a plane) a couple times. When I asked her about being Lucky Jim’s caretaker for this event, she jumped at the chance, so we are excited about that. We’re tickled she said yes.”
Miller thinks Lucky Jim will handle the trip with no problem.
“Obviously, we’ve never had to do anything this extensive, but he’s been as far as (from New Jersey to) Canada and he handled that just fine,” she said. “He’s really good on himself and he’s a common sense horse; really a calm horse. I’m hoping his manners will carry over to that kind of a trip.”
Lucky Jim will also ship with his hometown hay and grain, though probably not New Jersey water.
“We’re shipping everything we normally use with him,” Miller said. “Our water here at the stables is all purified and that’s something I’ll have to ask Jenny about, if we should do bottled water for him. I think maybe we’d get those gallon plastic jugs. I’ll talk to Jenny and see if I even need to worry about it.”
Miller, mother to 12-year-old T.J. and 10-year-old Olivia, had considered bringing them along for the race, celebrated on Swedish Mother’s Day, but thought better of it.
“We were going to take them,” she said, “but after talking to Ole (Bach, a horse agent based in the U.S., and a native of Denmark), he said it’s kind of a whirlwind trip. He says we’re going to be busy with press conferences and having to be certain places; I just didn’t think it would be a fun trip for them, not a sightseeing or relaxing trip. They’re too young to just stay in a hotel room and they’d miss a whole week of school. Hopefully, there will be another time for them to go over.” (Harness Racing Communications)