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See also La Varenne and Varennes, both disambiguation pages.
Breed Standardbred
Sire Waikiki Beach
Grandsire Speedy Somolli
Dam Ialmaz
Maternal grandsire Zebu
Sex Stallion
Foaled May 19, 1995
Country Italy
Colour Dark bay
Trainer Roger Grundin, Jori Turja
73: 62-6-2
US$ 8,750,00
Major wins
Italian Trotting Derby (1998)
Gran Premio d'Europa (1999)
Gran Premio Tino Triossi (1999)
Gran Premio Continentale (1999)
Preis der Besten (1999)
Gran Premio Delle Nazioni (1999)
European 5-year-old Championship (2000)
Olympiatravet (2000, 2002)
Gran Premio della Lotteria (2000, 2001, 2002)
Gran Premio U.N.I.R.E. (2000, 2002)
Gran Premio Giubileo (2000)
Prix d'Amérique (2001, 2002)
Elitloppet (2001, 2002)
Elite-Rennen (2001)
Breeders Crown (2001)
Trot Mondial (2001)
Gala' Internazionale del Trotto (2001)
Grand Criterium de Vitesse (2002)
St. Michel Race (2002)
Hugo Åbergs Memorial (2002)
Jubileumspokalen (2002)
World Cup Trot (2000, 2001, 2002)
Horse of the Year in Italy (2000, 2001, 2002)
Horse of the Year in France (2001, 2002)
Horse of the Year in the USA (2001)
Four stamps in San Marino (2003)
Harness Racing Hall of Fame (2010)
Kanal 75 The best trotter of all time (2011)
Last updated on: 2011-10-13.

Varenne (foaled in Copparo, Italy, 19 May 1995) is a dark bay racing trotter by Waikiki Beach out of Ialmaz by Zebu.

Varenne is considered to be the best trotter of all time. No other trotter has won so many of the most important races of the world and set as many records as Varenne.


According to several veterinarians, Varenne would never race due to a leg malformation. His first owner bought him for a mere $ 6000, but because of his perceived handicap (chip) proceeded to sell him after the first race, considering him to have no future as a race horse. Time would soon tell otherwise. This handicap would never pose a problem for Varenne.

Varenne won 62 races, ( 53 GPs-major races), in 11 different distances, (from 0,99 mile to 1,708 miles), 6 second, 2 third, of 73 career starts. He has earned US$ 8,750,00 (€6,035,665), setting a record high for earnings won in the history of harness racing.

Varenne holds the record as the most widely traveled horse in the history of horse racing, winning in 7 countries and two continents spanning the globe.

Varenne is the sole European trotter to win the Breeders Crown (2001) in the U.S.A.,[1][2][3] where he set the world speed record ( 1 mile in 1.51.1 - average per kilometer 1.09.1). Was the first time he ran the distance of 1 mile. (Many experts believe this was the most beautiful race in the history of harness racing) .

Another historical victory took place at the World Cup 2002 in Vincennes, where Varenne won yet again even though the wheel of the sulky was broken, setting the world speed record of 2100 metres ( unbeaten record 1.10.8 average per kilometer - track 1 kilometer).

In Finland 14th July 2002, in "St. Michel Race" (Mikkeli), in front of 27 000 spectators, Varenne established the World speed record of 1.09.3 on 1000 metres tracks (includes 3 turns in comparison to American one mile tracks with just two turns). This was his only race in Finland, the home country of his trainer mister Jori Turja and keeper miss Iina Rastas. The owner of Varenne had earlier promised trainer Turja, that he may take Varenne once in its career to race in Finland. Jori chose the fastest track in whole Europe for WR.

In May 2002 in the Elitlopp, he took it in a world record time of 1:53.1 in the elimination and then bested that mark by winning the final in 1:53 – the fastest mile so far (until St. Michel in Finland in July 2002) trotted around three turns(unbeaten record).

He is the first foreign horse to have won the Horse of the Year award in the U.S and the only foreign horse to have won the Horse of the Year award in France, as well as the only horse to have won Horse of the Year in 3 different countries, all in the same year (2001).

Varenne has established numerous track records on various racetracks. He won the Prix d'Amérique twice (2001–2002), considered to be the most difficult race in world of harness racing (2700 meters / 1.708 miles - 18 starters).

His most prestigious victories include the Prix d'Amérique, Elitloppet, Gran Premio della Lotteria and Breeders Crown. He is the only horse to win the most important races in the same year (2001)

Varenne won all the most prestigious races around the world beating the strongest horses including champions like Moni Maker ( 3 times), Magician ( 1 time), Général du Pommeau ( 4 times), Fan Idole ( 5 times), Victory Tilly ( 4 times), Viking Kronos ( 1 times), Fool's Goal (1 time), Dream Vacation (2 time), Plesac ( 1 time) becoming the king of trotting.

Since 2010, the name "Varenne" and his incredible story, will live forever in the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in New York. This is the most prestigious recognition in America, typically dedicated to legendary American horses only.

In May 2011 Kanal 75, the Swedish company that broadcasts harness racing on TV4 Sport in Sweden, asked 38 international media to rank tracks, horsemen and horses, and the answer to the final question in the survey has finally been revealed. Kanal 75 asked its panel, which included The Horseman And Fair World's Kathy Parker, to name the best horse of all time, and Varenne came out on top.

Varenne’s character was always calm. Never did he did suffer from anxiety before or after a race. Not even all the caresses, flash photography, air travel, change of time zones, or invasions of the track by his fans made him nervous in any way. His vet called him an "intelligent horse with incredible patience.”

Known in Italy as "Il Capitano" (the Captain), he was the only animal in history with a press office staff. Many people worked for the iconic Varenne. Thousands of gadgets, t-shirts and hats were produced in his name. For a number of months, the Italian cities were covered with giant posters depicting Varenne and millions of Italians followed his victories on live television.

Varenne also raised money for disabled children. The proceedings of his 2002 victory at the “Premio Mario Locatelli” went entirely to charity for the Carlo Gnocchi Italian center. These proceeds helped complete the project on "Cascina Linterno" in Milan that provided a range of services for people with disabilities, including an equestrian facility for the rehabilitation of people with physical and mental disabilities, through horse therapy.[4]

Early life[edit]

Varenne, the offspring of American stallion Waikiki Beach and Italian mare Ialmaz, was born at Zenzalino horse breeding centre in Copparo, Italy, on May 19, 1995. The foal was named after the street Rue de Varenne, where the Italian embassy in Paris is located. Early owner Jean-Pierre Dubois, a successful French horseman, brought him to Normandy, France. After the stay in France, Varenne returned to Italy.[5][6]

Racing career[edit]


As a three-year-old, Varenne began his racing career. The debut took place in Premio Primavalle in Bologna on April 4. Driver was early trainer, Swedish Roger Grundin, but Varenne was disqualified. The second attempt was more successful. Together with Italian driver Giampaolo Minnucci, Varenne won Premio Mirtillo at Tor di Valle, Rome, on April 30. In October, he won the Italian trotting derby (Italian: Derby Italiano del Trotto), which was to be his most lucrative victory until Prix d'Amérique in early 2001. Varenne ended 1998 by finishing third in Gran Premio Orsi Mangelli. After his first year on the tracks, Varenne had won 8 of 12 races.[2]

During 1998, Dubois sold his share in Varenne to Italian stockbroker Vincenzo "Enzo" Giordano for €50,000.[7] Varenne also switched trainer to Finnish-born and Italy-based Jori Turja. Turja, as well as driver Minnucci, remained Varenne's partners for the reminder of the horse's career.


In 1999, Varenne had a perfect track record: 14 wins out of 14 possible. Among others, he won Gran Premio d'Europa, Gran Premio Tino Triossi and Gran Premio Continentale, all major races in his native Italy. In the fall of that year, the stallion for the first time raced outside his home country. In October, at the Daglfing track in Munich, Germany, Varenne won Preis der Besten, even though he faced older and more experienced competitors. After the win in Gran Premio delle Nazioni at San Siro, Milan, Turja and company once again turned their attention abroad. On December 26, Varenne wrapped up his four-year-old season by winning Prix Ariste Hémard at Vincennes, Paris.[2]


January 30, 2000, Varenne made his first attempt to win Prix d'Amérique, one of the major races in the world of harness, taking place at Vincennes. He finished 3rd, behind French horses General du Pommeau and Galopin du Ravary.[8] In May, on his first try, he won Gran Premio della Lotteria, the biggest international Italian race. Later that month, he failed to win perhaps the most prestigious one-mile harness race in Europe - Elitloppet at Solvalla in Stockholm, Sweden.[2][9][10]

18 races in 2000 meant 13 wins, including the European 5-year-old Championship, Olympiatravet, Gran Premio Giubileo and Gran Premio Gaetano Turilli.[2] During the year, Varenne won World Cup Trot, a competition stretching over a number of races. He repeated the feat two years later.[11]


In 2001, Varenne took all of the top three aged harness events in Europe, as well as the biggest one in North America.[12]

It started with a victory in Prix d'Amérique on January 28. Varenne took the lead early on in the race, and maintained that position all the way. After a couple of smaller wins, he once again took Gran Premio della Lotteria in Naples on May 6. Three weeks later he defeated the reigning champion in Elitloppet, Victory Tilly, although he was parker for most of the race. Varenne suffered his only loss of the year when he sensationally lost to Jackhammer in Gran Premio U.N.I.R.E in Milan. After returning to winning ways in Elite-Rennen at Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Varenne crossed the Atlantic for his first journey to North America.[2][13]

The first stop was Meadowlands Racetrack, New Jersey, and the biggest aged harness event in North America; $1 million Breeders Crown Open Trot, taken place on July 28. After Varenne's sweep in the three greatest European races (he was the first horse to accomplish this in 34 years[14]) the expectations were enormous. The competition consisted of some of the best American trotters, e.g. Dream Vacation, Plesac, Fool's Goal and Magician.[15] Varenne advanced to the lead, but Minnucci let John Campbell and Dream Vacation overtake them. Varenne was then parked outside Dream Vacation, and in the stretch, Varenne left the opponents far behind. The winning margin was 4 and ½ length, and with the time 1:51.1m (European way of timing: 1:09.1m km rate), Varenne beat Self Possessed's one-mile world record with two tenths of a second.[12]

After the success, Varenne was planned to race at Meadowlands next week again, this time in Nat Ray Trot.[14] This would not become the case, and Varenne would not make an appearance until September 22, when he won Trot Mondial in Montreal, Canada. In December, Varenne rounded off the year with two wins in Italy. Out of the 14 races Varenne and Minnucci participated in, they were victorious in 13.[2]


If Varenne in 2001 was the first horse in 34 years to win Prix d'Amérique, Gran Premio della Lotteria and Elitloppet in the same year, he, in 2002, would become the absolute first to succeed in making the triple two years in a row.[4]

In a similar manner to last years event, Varenne took the lead at an early stage in Prix d'Amérique 2002 as well. No other horse could challenge the Italian stallion, who in this event grabbed the second biggest prize cheque of his career; €400,000. In Gran Premio Mario Locatelli at San Siro, Milan, for the first time since his debut, Varenne was driven by another driver than Minnucci. Finnish Jorma Kontio was chosen for the job, and the stand-in made no mistakes. After wins in Gran Premio Mario Locatelli, Grand Criterium de Vitesse and Olympiatravet, Varenne and Minnucci beat the event record in Gran Premio della Lotteria with the time 1:10.8 (km rate).[2][16]

Elitloppet on May 26, meant another defended title and another event record (1:10.2 km rate).[17] Thereafter, the people around Varenne focused their attention to World Cup Trot. If one horse could manage to win all five legs of the world cup, a massive bonus (€1 million) would fall out.[18] First leg was Gran Premio U.N.I.R.E, second leg was Hugo Åbergs Memorial at Jägersro in Malmö, Sweden, third leg was Jubileumspokalen at Solvalla, Stockholm and fourth leg was Coupe du Monde de Trot at Vincennes, Paris. Varenne and Minnucci succeeded in winning all these races.[2][19] In between, Varenne won the St. Michel Race in Mikkeli, Finland. With the time 1:09.3 (km rate), he set a new world record on a 1000m track, a record that kept up 10 years.[20] Combined with the world record set in Breeders Crown the previous year, Varenne now was world record holder on a mile track as well as on a 1000m track.

Before Trot Mondial in Montreal, reports appeared, saying the up-coming race would be Varenne's last. The event took place on September 28, 2002. Varenne and Minnucci faced, among others, American Fool's Goal and French mare Fan Idole.[1] Varenne had the lead, but was passed by Fan Idole on the stretch and finished second. After the race, Varenne was disqualified for running inside the pylons.[21] Before the race, it seemed, according to Varenne's groom Iina Rastas, that Fan Idole got taken with Varenne.[22] When Fan Idole in 2004 quit racing, Varenne was, perhaps suitably, chosen to be her first stud.[23]

Despite rumours of a comeback, Trot Mondial was to be Varenne's last race. He ended his career by being disqualified, just as he had started it almost four and half years earlier, the only two races he finished outside the money. The 15 races and 14 wins in 2002 took Varennes tally up to totally 62 career victories, 6 seconds and 2 thirds from 73 starts.[2] With US$5,919,961 (€6,035,665) earned, Varenne is the richest trotter ever.[3][24]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Varenne was named the Horse of the Year in Italy 2000, 2001, 2002 and received the same award in France in 2001, 2002 and in USA 2001. Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame in New York, .[1][4][25]

Career as a sire[edit]

From 2003, when Varenne started his breeding career, until 2008, Varenne stood at Allevamento Il Grifone in his homeland Italy. His first foal, delivered by the mare Vendee on January 5, 2004, was a colt named Icaro del Ronco.[26] During the four years at Allevamento Il Grifone, Varenne sired between 126 and 168 foals per year.[27] Among the offspring born 2004-2005 are Swedish star mare Lie Detector (SEK 4 886 131) with several wins in classic races to her name. Italian mare Lana Del Rio has won a number of Group 1 races, e.g. Gran Premio Nazionale. Lord Capar (Sweden/Italy) and Southwind Serena (USA) are two other successful trotters sired by Varenne.[28] In 2008, Varenne was moved to Menhammar Stuteri outside Stockholm, Sweden, where Varenne's stands for c. €750 (insemination) + €15,000 (live foal).[29][30] Menhammar veterinarian Johan Hellander, claims that Varenne is "a marvellous stud stallion" that "does exactly what you ask him to" and that Varenne's service would be more expensive if he would not be so fertile.[6]


Pedigree of Varenne (ITY)[31]
Waikiki Beach (USA)
Speedy Somolli (USA) Speedy Crown (USA) Speedy Scot (USA)
Missile Toe (USA)
Somolli (USA) Star's Pride (USA)
Laurita Hanover (USA)
Hula Lobell (USA) Super Bowl (USA) Star's Pride (USA)
Pillow Talk (USA)
Hollys Margeo (USA) Blaze Hanover (USA)
Clever Diller (USA)
Ialmaz (ITY)
Zebu (ITY) Sharif Di Iesolo (ITY) Quicksong (USA)
Odile De Sassy (FR)
Keystone Lady (USA) Hickory Pride (USA)
Lady Frost (USA)
Baree (ITY) Speedy Crown (USA) Speedy Scot (USA)
Missile Toe (USA)
Spree Hanover (USA) Star's Pride (USA)
Spry Hanover (USA)
  • Varenne is inbred 3x3 to Speedy Crown, meaning that the stallion appears twice in the third generation of his pedigree. He is also inbred 4x4x4 to Star's Pride.


  1. ^ a b c Liebman, Bennett (2002-10-08). "Whatever Became of Harness Racing?". Whatever Became of Harness Racing?. Government Law Online. p. 1. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Varenne". Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  3. ^ a b Varenne won € 6,035,665. In the conversion to USD, the rates of 2002-08-22, the date of Varenne's last race, has been used.
  4. ^ a b c "Legend Horse of the Month for June 2007 - Varenne". Odds On Racing. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  5. ^ "Sport - People - Varenne". June 2002. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  6. ^ a b Battistini, Francesco (2008-09-26). "Varenne’s Gilded Retirement with Organic Apples and Mechanical Love: Stallion’s life in seven-star Swedish stud stables". Corriere della Serra. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  7. ^ "City Diary: Idea Trotted Out In Political Vacuum". 2002-01-28. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  8. ^ "The Blood Bank - Classic Winners - Prix d'Amerique". Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  9. ^ "Elitlopp and simulcast at NJSEA facilities". Meadowlands Media Department. 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  10. ^ Nasstrom, Stephan (2007-05-27). "L'Amiral Mauzon edges Mr Muscleman to win Elitloppet". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  11. ^ "Spring Ray svenskt hopp på Vincennes". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  12. ^ a b Little, Dave (2001-07-29). "Varenne All-World at Big M". Daily News. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  13. ^ "The Bloodbank - Classic Winners - Gran Premio U.N.I.R.E.". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  14. ^ a b "Italian horse wins Breeders Crown in record time". 2001-07-28. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  15. ^ Yannis, Alex (2001-07-25). "Top European Trotter Heads Breeders Crown". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  16. ^ "Gran Premio della Lotteria". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  17. ^ "Solvallas Internationella Elitlopp". (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  18. ^ Farrell, Mike (2002-07-24). "'Victory' a Swede success". The Record. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  19. ^ Little, Dave (2002-07-19). "Varenne Trots out of Picture". Daily News. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  20. ^ "St. Michel in English". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  21. ^ "Super horse Varenne defeated; Italy mourns". Globecord. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  22. ^ Lindberg, Johan (2002-09-30). "Dramatik när Varenne förlorade i Montreal". Kanal 75 (in Swedish). Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  23. ^ "Top French trotter retires". 2005-01-05. Retrieved 2009-01-23. 
  24. ^ "Ghibellino Wins Tino Triossi". Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  25. ^ "Newborn named after horse". The Tribune. 2002-08-14. Retrieved 2009-01-26. 
  26. ^ Corban, Anthony (2004-01-08). "First Varenne foal born". The United States Trotting Association. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  27. ^ "The Blood Bank - Production overview". Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  28. ^ "Varenne's stud career". Retrieved 2009-01-28. [dead link]
  29. ^ "Varenne frozen semen available". Standardbred Canada. 2007-12-04. Retrieved 2009-01-28. 
  30. ^ "Hingstar - Menhammar Stuteri". (in Swedish). Menhammar Stuteri AB. Retrieved 2009-01-28. [dead link]
  31. ^ "The Blood Bank - Pedigree - Varenne". Retrieved 2009-03-05.