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Cruzado Dela Noche comes from behind to win International Trot at Yonkers

October 14, 2018

Sweden’s Cruzado Dela Noche, who drew the not-so-great six post and was sent off at 30-1 odds, was parked the entire mile-and-a-quarter with cover and came on to win the 40th edition of the $1 million International Trot at Yonkers Raceway at Empire City Casino.

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On an overcast Saturday afternoon with cooling temperatures around 50 degrees, Cruzado Dela Noche, driven by top driver Brian Sears, floated out from post six as a number of horses inside of him blasted out for the lead.

The complexion of the race changed when two leavers, the 7-5 race favorite from post 4, Ringostarr Treb, and the 15-1 shot from post 5, Pastore Bob, both made breaks around the first turn before the quarter in 28.2. With Cruzado Dela Noche on the outside in sixth place, second favorite Marion Marauder brushed to the lead and got to the half in 57.1 with Ariana G right behind him and Lionel on the outside in third place.

Cruzado Dela Noche wins International Trot at Yonkers Raceway on Saturday. (Kevin C Downs / for New York Daily News)

As they raced to the third quarter in 1:27 flat and the mile marker in 1:55.3, it was Marion Marauder on the lead, Lionel pressuring on the outside second and Sears tipping the eventual winner three-wide. At the top of the stretch, Lionel put a nose in front but Cruzado Dela Noche would wear him down to win by a head in 2:24.3. Norway’s Lionel (driver Goran Antonsen) finished second and France’s Up and Quick (driver Jason Bartlett) was a length-and-three-quarters back in third as Ariana G finished fourth and Marion Marauder faded to fifth.

Winning driver Brian Sears explained his strategy: “I was hoping to get a cover trip and was two wide early. I didn’t want to be first over [no cover] and got the best cover trip I could hope for.” Indeed, Sears was able to follow second-place finisher Lionel, who was first over and raced great, just to be nipped at the wire. Sears, a Yonkers regular, was thrilled: “It’s great winning the signature race at Yonkers.”

Brian Sears, driver of Cruzado Dela Noche of Sweden and Tim Rooney (r.), owner of the horse, hold International Trot Trophy.
Brian Sears, driver of Cruzado Dela Noche of Sweden and Tim Rooney (r.), owner of the horse, hold International Trot Trophy. (Kevin C Downs / for New York Daily News)

Winning trainer Marcus Melander was also very happy. “I thought this horse might be a little short today. He came to the United States in August and was in quarantine in Maryland for six weeks. We wanted to get him a race before the International, but the best we could do was two qualifying races at Poconos. But he raced really well today.”

Melander’s uncle, Stefan Melander, actually trains the horse in Sweden. Stefan Melander, who was given much credit by owner Anders Strom in the winner’s circle, actually won the 2001 Hambletonian with Scarlet Knight. So the Melander family knows its way around top horses.

Cruzado Dela Noche made $500,000 for his lessee, Courant Inc. of Florida. He also lit up the tote board in a lot of ways. In addition to paying $62.50 to win, the 6-9 exacta, with Lionel second, paid $698. The 6-9-2 triple, with Up and Quick third, paid $14,069. And the 6-9-2-3 superfecta, with Ariana G fourth, paid an astounding $67,948.

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