Swedish trainer Jim Oscarsson moved to Florida a few years ago to escape harsh winters and chase his Hambletonian dream.
Oscarsson may have found the perfect storm in Aperfectyankee, currently ranked third on the Road to the Hambletonian top ten list.
The son of Yankee Glide became last year’s fastest freshman trotter when he rallied to a 4-1 upset in the $387,250 Peter Haughton Memorial in 1:54.1.
There have been only two Peter Haughton Memorial winners to come back to win the Hambletonian, and they were both voted Horse of the Year, Donato Hanover  and Muscle Hill . Hence, Aperfectyankee has some big shoes to fill.
For the many who witnessed the feat on Hambletonian Day, Aperfectyankee’s Haughton victory touched off a rousing winner’s circle celebration by the 52-year-old from Umea, Sweden and his associates.
“It was extra nice to win that race being the first year we’ve raced here in the US,” recalled Oscarsson. “I mean, to train him and drive him to victory in it on Hambletonian Day was just tremendous. Back home in Sweden we also drive our horses, and I’m going to continue to drive this colt. Of course, after that win, since he proved to be such a good horse, I started to think about the Hambletonian.”
Compared to the competition, Aperfectyankee had a light two-year-old season with only seven starts. The $55,000 Lexington-Selected Sale yearling had three wins, a second and a third, and earnings of $310,035. In addition to the Haughton, he won a $29,422 division of the Tompkins Geers at Tioga Downs in 1:56.4 and a $112,508 division of Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at Pocono Downs in 1:55.
“When he went to Canada he didn’t feel too well after he finished second to Wheeling N Dealin in the Champlain,” explained Oscarsson. “I gave him one more start [in a William Wellwood Memorial elimination on September 7], then we scoped him after he finished sixth [as the beaten favorite] and he got sick.”
Over the winter, Aperfectyankee has made a smooth transition from age two to three, and has matured into a young stallion.
“He hasn’t grown so much from last year, but he’s more of a horse,” noted Oscarsson. “He’s more ‘studdy’ now. His best qualities are his ability to leave the gait with speed and be close to the front.”
After two strong qualifiers at the Meadowlands, Aperfectyankee made a triumphant seasonal debut in a $48,779 division of Pennsylvania Sires Stakes at The Meadows on May 24 in 1:57.2.
“In his first start this year, I just wanted him to race the last quarter, to come home good, but I was a little worried because of a slow half of 1:00.3,” said Oscarsson. “However, went I tipped him out he finished strong and he was very good that day. His division wasn’t fast, but that doesn’t matter. It was a perfect first race of the season for him. He had trained well before that race, and I’m very happy with him so far.”
“We have drawn the rail in the second leg of sires stakes on Sunday [June 16], so everything is going well at this moment. He has the Earl Beal, Jr. Memorial after that, followed by another sires stakes and then the Hambletonian.
“I’m not really concerned about racing heats. I don’t think it’s going to affect him. When I train him I go two or three trips and it doesn’t bother him.
“I moved from Sweden because of the cold winters, and I’m based in Vero Beach, Florida where I rent a training center. Right now, I have 24 horses at Sterling Chase Farm in Jobstown, NJ for the summer.
“I’ve got a couple of nice two-year-olds training well for this year’s Peter Haughton Memorial, but it’s really too early to tell.
“Yes, I’m dreaming of the Hambletonian. It’s why I’m here.”
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