The Future of the International Trot with MGM Resorts

Written By Cheryle Kaus on October 24, 2019
International Trot

For the second time in a space of three years, an Italian-based horse is the champion of the Yonkers International Trot.

During 2017, Twister Bi provided an extraordinary world record performance with a time of 2:22.1 around the half-mile track for 1 ¼ miles, and in 2019, Zacon Gio dominated the competition with a time of 2:24.1.

It was a long and difficult road for the Italian-based colt who has now managed to win a total of 12 consecutive races.

However, none of his victories were away from his homeland until last Saturday.

For most of the race, Zacon Gio was three-wide. However, he successfully got things right on the last turn of the race to win by an astonishing 3 ¼ lengths. Denmark’s Slide So Easy was second, while Marion Marauder from Canada placed third.

This race proved once again that 1 ¼ mile racing events on a half-mile track is perfect. Although the fractions were set by Atlanta, there were loads of movement that took place on the Yonkers oval.

The horse from Italy likely ran closer to 1 3/8 miles. However, he was full of trot in the stretch and that was all that was needed to claim the winner’s check worth $500,000.

There was an article that recently circulated, stating that the future of International Trot could be in danger, and this was obviously not the first time either.

The International Trot initially started back in 1959 and ended during 1995. It then took a 20-year break before it was renewed as recent as 2015.

International Trot was revived by the Rooney family, using their own hard-earned money to fly horses in and to promote the event.

In early 2019, the Rooney family decided to sell the track, which they acquired in 1972, to MGM Resorts for a jaw-dropping $850 million.

This obviously meant a new direction due to new ownership. It’s for this very reason that most are concerned as MGM might remove the harness track completely to further expand its gambling operation.

This will require an act from the Governor’s Office and the New York State Legislature, so it’s wise not to let this story get out of control.

That being said, are the new owners prepared to use their own money to keep International Trot alive?

Fans of harness racing are hopeful.

However, a couple of corporate sponsors will definitely assist the cause. As fantastic as racing day is, there’s only been $871,939 handed over at Old Hilltop in 12 races.

There’s also reports that indicated that MGM Resorts had to be convinced by Tim Rooney to give the racing event another chance this year.

Once a change of ownership is in motion, trimming fat is the very first thing that a new owner does, and to most at MGM Resorts, the International Trot is seen as fat that needs to be trimmed.

We will obviously wait for reports from accountants to be issued, but don’t expect an International Trot in 2020 with the way things are looking.

This will be quite a disappointment as the quirky event is usually something to look forward to.

However, the problem is that the racetrack can easily accumulate as much handle with a regular race card featuring 12 runners, with purses between $17,000 and $42,000, as it does with an International Trot with purses that range in the millions.


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