Melander hoping Cruzado can cruise in Cutler
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Marcus Melander is hoping Cruzado Dela Noche’s seasonal debut in Saturday’s $175,200 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters at The Meadowlands follows the same script as the 7-year-old stallion’s debut for his stable last fall. Simply put, with a win.
Cruzado Dela Noche captured the $1 million Yonkers International Trot in October after returning to the U.S. from several years of campaigning in Europe. He arrived in Melander’s barn during the summer, qualified twice in September, and then went out and won the International at odds of 30-1.
The horse heads to Saturday’s Cutler also off two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the first in 1:53.3 on April 13 and finishing third in 1:53.4 on April 27. He will start the Cutler, which attracted a 12-horse field and will be raced at 1-1/8 miles, from post No. 3 with Brian Sears in the sulky.
“We were very happy with both of his qualifiers,” Melander said. “He won the International off two qualifiers, so I’m not too concerned that he hasn’t raced. We’ve prepared him very well. We’ve got a good post and I’m excited. I think he is ready to roll.”
Cruzado Dela Noche was a stakes winner at ages 2 and 3 while competing in North America for trainer Nancy Johansson. At 4, he was brought to Europe by owner Anders Ström (Courant A B) and raced for Melander’s uncle, Stefan. He was a multiple Group 1 winner, including the 2017 Copenhagen Cup.
For his career, Cruzado Dela Noche has won 15 of 59 races and earned $1.21 million. He is staked to the top races in North America this season, including the Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot and Cashman Memorial.
“He’s got a great attitude,” Melander said. “He always gives everything he’s got. He’s a nice horse to be around, very easy to be around. He’s a happy horse. I’m looking forward to the season to start.”
The Cutler field also includes Pinkman, who won the 2015 Hambletonian on his way to being named Trotter of the Year; Fiftydallarbill, a Breeders Crown winner in 2017; Top Flight Angel, the 2017 Yonkers Trot winner; and Grand Circuit stakes winners such as Will Take Charge and Yes Mickey.
Guardian Angel As, who will start the Cutler from the second tier’s post No. 11, is looking for his first major stakes victory. He finished second in last year’s Allerage Open Trot, behind Homicide Hunter in his 1:48.4 world-record mile, and third in the Dayton Trotting Derby.
The 5-year-old stallion has won 16 of 40 career races and earned $516,746 for owners ACL Stuteri AB and Kjell Johansson. He is trained by Anette Lorentzon and enters the Cutler off two qualifier wins, the most recent on April 24 in 1:54.2 at Miami Valley Raceway.
“We stretched him out a little bit,” Lorentzon said. “He did it easy so we were happy with him. Training, he doesn’t do more than you ask him to do. But he looks good. I’m just hoping we have some luck this year and he races good.” (Ken Weingartner/USTA)