For Opinion, click here for View from the Racetrack Grandstand

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Ppk5/8 - Pompano Hosts Horway's Wassberg

Even though he has never before been away from his stable and never before been on a vacation, top Norwegian trainer and driver Ove Wassberg admitted he was glad he made a stop at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. His visit was a major highlight of the Wednesday, February 22 program in South Florida.

Pompano's Frank Salive (left) and top Norway trainer and driver Ove Wassberg (right) as they began a live trackside TV interview on Wednesday evening, February 22, at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. (Skip Smith Photo)

Wassberg, 64, is one of the most respected and longest serving trainers and drivers in Scandinavia. He operates a 35 horse stable from a home base at Bergen, Norway where he has amassed 29 training and driving titles in a career spanning five decades.

"I was really thankful to have the chance to drive in a race here and turning for home I thought I could be fourth but my horse, Four Starz Conway, had a post nine start and began to tire" Wassberg commented in a live TV trackside interview. "It will still be a great memory and a story I'll be telling everyone back home.  The track surface here is very fast and very well banked in the turns. I also got the chance to warm up a pacer, Gotta Go Moe, which was a first for me. It was the first time in my life I'd sat behind a pacer and it felt funny to me but I'm really thankful for the chance and glad I did it. To be here in the warmth of Pompano in this perfect weather is also a treat, since we haven't seen the sun in two months back home with it alternating between rain and snow every day" he added.

The special guest horseman also spent much of Wednesday touring the backstretch and observing the training techniques common to North America. He explained his methods are a big departure from what he observed on a typical morning at Pompano.

"Mostly, I use interval and straight line training on courses with rolling hills so the horses work all of their muscles at the same time" Wassberg explained. "The people here were really kind to take time with me and they have different skills here in North America to train horses. Back home it's more important to train for stamina instead of speed since many of the races at my home track in Bergen, Norway are at a mile and a half."

Acting as Wassberg's translator was his good friend Karsten Midtun, a retired Scandinavian Airlines pilot. He related anecdotes of Wassberg's legendary work ethic, which includes an eight hour round trip every Tuesday to Stavenger, Norway but always reporting to his home stable at 8 a.m. the next morning, as he has done for almost five decades.

"Ove had wanted to visit more racetracks in America after Pompano but his friends and family won't let him since it's first vacation and it took him until 64 years old to get it" Midtun says. "He's been protesting all the way but we've taken his phone away from him too. Now, he'll have to finally give in and enjoy the Caribbean cruise we're taking him on."

Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall Of Famer John Berry, the replays archive and much more is found in the 'racing' tab at .

- - -