Nuclear Kosmos - 1986
Nuclear Kosmos: Imported Driver Guides Hambo Winner Trainer Per Henriksen was taking no chances with Nuclear Kosmos in the 61st Hambletonian. He wanted one of the best to handle his colt, so he sent all the way to Norway for four-time world champion Ulf Thoresen. Henriksen, who was Kosmos’ regular driver and also a native of Norway, had been friends with Thoresen for 25 years. Thoresen had never before driven in, or even seen, a Hambletonian. Enough three-year-olds were entered to warrant two divisions of the first heat. In the first division, Royal Prestige scored by two lengths over the filly Britelite Lobell and Nevele Typhoon. In the second, Thoresen sent Nuclear Kosmos for the lead from the nine hole, dropped back to third at the top of the stretch, then wore down the leaders to win by a length over Buck Newton in 1:554. Express Ride, the prerace favorite, tired badly in the stretch. In the second heat, Kosmos again was sent to the lead and had to turn back longshot Speedy Tomali early. Britelite Lobell took up the challenge at the top of the stretch and Royal Prestige, the 4-5 favorite, shook loose a sixteenth out. He was closing on Nuclear Kosmos at the finish, but Kosmos gamely held on. Britelite Lobell was third. The 40-year-old Thoresen, who had won major races all over Europe, called the Hambletonian victory the biggest thrill of his life.
First Hambletonian won by a European-based driver. Though trainer Per Henriksen usually drove Nuclear Kosmos, he asked fellow Norwegian, his long-time friend Ulf Thoreson to come drive for him. Thoreson, a four-time World Driving Champion, never had been in, or even seen a Hambletonian before. Thoreson's smart drive got him a Hambletonian victory, which he called the biggest thrill of his life. Royal Prestige was the favorite in the first heat elimination (with his stablemate Farm King), and the sole favorite in the final. Nuclear Kosmos had the second highest mutual odds of any horse winning the final of the Hambletonian (7-2 of $3.50 on the dollar); he was $5.50 on the dollar in winning his first Hambletonian heat (the entry of Express Ride and Everglade Hanover was the public's choice). Only The Intruder at about 9-2 or $4.45 dollar odds in the 1956 final was higher. Nuclear Kosmos had a fourth generation Hambletonian winner pedigree. He was the first horse to be sired by a Hambletonian winner (Speedy Somolli) that was the son and grandson of Hambletonian winners (Speedy Crown and Speedy Scot). Before being exported Speedy Somolli also produced Park Avenue Joe (1989 deadheat) and Alf Palema (1992), who wer both also expected. Bed by Gestion Belvedere (the estate of Jean Claude Caron et al) of Quebec, Nuclear Kosmos was the first winner credited to a Canadian breeder.