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US-bred Propulsion gets Elitlopp victory in fifth try

May 31, 2020

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On his fifth and perhaps final attempt, the 9-year-old American-bred Propulsion won the Elitlopp on Sunday night (May 31) at the Solvalla track in Stockholm, Sweden. It was the first Elitlopp held without spectators due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Previously, Propulsion had finished second twice and fourth twice in the Elitlopp.
Propulsion is a son of Muscle Hill and the Hall of Fame broodmare Danae, who also won the Hambletonian Oaks. He was bred by Rikki Caldwell and her daughter Elizabeth and son Danny at Cane Run Farm near Lexington, Ky., and with partner Bluestone Farms of Pennsylvania. At last fall’s Lexington Selected Yearling Sale, the breeders sold Propulsion’s full brother for $1 million to the owner of Propulsion, Bengt Agerup (Stall Zet).
An Elitlopp victory did not appear to be in the cards for Propulsion at the time of the draw for post positions, or in his elimination. He drew post 8 and then was stuck racing three wide the entire race. But he drew post 6 for the Elitlopp final. Still, victory was questionable until late in the race.
Driven by Swedish driving ace Orjan Kihlstrom, Propulsion was shuffled to fourth-over in the Elitlopp final, but when Kihlstrom tipped wide coming off the final turn, Propulsion shifted into high gear and won going away in 1:53.
Trained by Daniel Reden, Propulsion started from post 6 in the final heat after finishing third in his elimination.In the final, there were several inside speedsters leaving the gate, with the Reden-trained Missle Hill taking the early lead for Johan Untersteiner, as he did in his elimination. Kihlstrom looked for a spot and initially was second-over, following Earl Simon, who won his elimination from post 8 in 1:51.4. But Kihlstrom and Propulsion soon found themselves fourth-over as Racing Mange and Cokstile were pulled off the pylons from second and third approaching the half on the five-eighths mile oval.
Coming off the last turn, Missle Hill still held the lead but was tiring. Earl Simon weaved a bit while battling with Cokstile and Attraversiano. But it didn’t matter. It was apparent early in the stretch drive that Propulsion had the most closing kick and he powered home.
Earl Simon crossed the wire second but was disqualified for weaving and crowding, giving Cokstile, a 7-year-old son of Quite Easy, second-place monies. Attraversiano took third.
Just last Saturday Redén got off the fence and decided to start Propulsion in the Elitlopp. Propulsion had not raced since Jan. 26, when he competed in the Prix d'Amérique at Vincennes in Paris. A tough workout gave Redén the confidence to accept the Elitlopp invitation.
“Propulsion went three tough intervals in the sand last Thursday, then four minutes rest. Then we finished with a 2,000-meter heat with 1:58.1 (mile rate) for final 700 meters,” he shared.
Propulsion, who also stands at stud in Sweden, picked up his 38th career win in 78 starts and pushed his career earnings well over $3 million.
Reden said he is uncertain if Propulsion will continue racing now that he has his Elitlopp victory.
“It would be fantastic to end the story today with an Elitlopp victory, but at the same time I do not know if I want to take away from Propulsion his joy of racing,” said Reden.
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