Obrigado will take a shot in Elitlopp Playoff
« Return to News
Trainer Paul Kelley will be the first to admit that his star trotter Obrigado has been "a pleasant surprise." Kelley bought the former Maine-bred champion at the 2013 Harrisburg sale for $53,000 with the hope that he would develop into a nice open trotter at Saratoga. Instead, the 6-year-old gelding by Boy Band–Malimony (by Malabar Man) has become a top-class stakes horse who earned $405,535 in 2015 with a signature win in the $200,000 Crawford Farms Trot at Vernon Downs and a runner-up finish to close out the year in the $400,000 TVG Free-For-All Final.
Obrigado is part of an all-star field of nine entered in Sunday's inaugural $150,000 Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff at the Meadowlands. The race winner will receive an invitation to the Elitlopp at Solvalla Racecourse in Sweden on May 29. The Playoff is scheduled for Race 1 on Sunday's matinee program with a post time of 12:40 p.m. It will be broadcast live on national television in Sweden and anchors a six-race trotting block that will make up the V64 wager in Sweden.
Obrigado spent his winter in Florida with Kelley and posted two winning qualifiers at Pompano Park before shipping north. He qualified last Saturday at the Meadowlands in 1:54.1 with a final quarter in :27.1 in his final tune-up before Sunday.
"He had a really good winter and Wally Hennessey was especially happy with his second qualifier," explained Kelley. "He needed a good stiff training mile last weekend because he can tend to be a lazy horse. That effort was good for him to stretch his legs and open his lungs up. I don't know if I have him 100 percent where I want him to be, but if he's up to it, he will be right there on the wire and if not, then he is not quite ready."
Kelley shares ownership of Obrigado with Linwood Higgins, Stable 45, and the SRF Stable of Lennart Agren. Agren bought the ownership share previously held by Bill Weaver, the legendary owner and breeder who passed away this past February at the age of 79. Agren is from Sweden and owns 2015 Elitlopp champion Magic Tonight.
"Mr. Agren is a great sportsman and horseman and I know he would love nothing more than to have Obrigado race over at Solvalla," said Kelley. "I have been fortunate to attend the Elitlopp and it is truly a tremendous event. I am familiar with the whole setup over there and know how difficult it is for an American horse to win, especially this year where Nuncio looks like he will be a big favorite and have the home course advantage."
Fans can learn more about each of the horses entered in the Mack Lobell Elitlopp Playoff by visiting www.elitloppplayoff.com/ and can join the discussion on social media using #ElitloppPlayoff.
With the change to the regular Meadowlands schedule by racing on Sunday afternoon, the regular guarantees in the Pick Five and two Pick Four wagers will not be in place. The jackpot amounts in the Super High Five wagers will remain.(Meadowlands)