Photo by the author
Mack Lobell, now 31, still likes to trot in
his paddock in Sweden.
Mack Lobell captivated audiences with his appearance.
And the charisma is still there. He is living out
his days at at Menhammar Stud in Sweden, where he
has the appearance of a black ghost, a phantom. He
was the best of his time and now, at an age few
Standardbreds reach, he still has the appeal of
Mack Lobell was born April 28, 1984, at Lana Lobell
Farm in New Jersey. He is a son of Mystic Park -
Matina Hanover, by Speedy Count. At 3, Mack Lobell
set a world record of 1:52.1 under the tutelage of
trainer Chuck Sylvester.
The world-record race was the Review Stakes at
Springfield, Ill., and it took place on a windy day.
It was not a day for a world record, but Mack Lobell
didn’t care. Driver John Campbell said that the wind
was so strong that it felt like facing a wall coming
into the stretch. He was sure that under perfect
conditions, Mack Lobell would have trotted in 1:51.
Mack Lobell was owned by Lou Guida, who sold 75
percent of the horse in 1988 to a group headed by
John-Erik Magnusson. Mack Lobell won 71 out of 94
career races, the most important ones being the
Hambletonian, Breeders Crown, Yonkers Trot, Nat Ray,
Beacon Course, Statue of Liberty, Campionato Europeo
and the Elitlopp twice, in 1988 and 1990. He amassed
more than $3 million in purse earnings on two
continents and is undoubtedly one of the all-time
greats. He set a total of eight world records.
Mack Lobell sired 444 sons and daughters in Sweden,
the best being Mack Action Ås, a mare who earned the
equivalent of $500,000. He was not a bad sire, but
didn’t live up to the high expectations. As a
broodmare sire, he is one of the best, earning
Swedish champion in 2007 and 2012. He is the sire of
the dam of Commander Crowe, winner of more than $4
million, including the 2014 Breeders Crown Open
The “Black Phantom” hasn’t been active in the
breeding ranks since 2006. Going on 32, he seems
content just the same. His caretaker at Menhammar,
Anna-Karin Lindgren, is one of his greatest fans,
even though she never watched him race.
When Lindgren lets him go, Mack Lobell trots away in
his paddock, up to his own little house that owner
Margareta Wallenius-Kleberg at Menhammar had built
for him. He sighs in contentment, then strolls over
to a corner, gazing for something. He is probably
looking for mares.
“He is a horse with a lot of energy for his age, and
he is lively, intelligent and happy,” said Lindgren.
Photo by the author
Caretaker Anne-Karin Lindgren said she used
to have posters of him on her bedroom wall
and is thrilled to have the opportunity to
care for him in his dotage.
Mack Lobell has mellowed with time. He could be a
tough customer in his racing days. Eva Pettersson
knows, as she took care of Mack Lobell a couple of
years after he was sold to Sweden in 1988 for a
whopping $5 million – for a 75-percent share!
“Mack Lobell was quite a handful on racing days, you
had to look out,” she said. “Apart from that, he was
a really nice horse.
“When we were racing in Hamburg, Germany, he bit a
sponsor. John-Erik Magnusson (who trained Mack
Lobell in Sweden) and I told the man to keep away
from the horse. When I turned my back, the man went
up to ‘Mack’ anyway. Luckily the guy had a thick
leather jacket on, otherwise he would have bled.”
Mack Lobell loved to roll in the mud, according to
“Once in Cesena, Italy, I let him out in a paddock,
because I thought he needed some time outside,” she
said. “He rolled in the mud and the black horse
suddenly turned gray. John-Erik wasn’t happy, but I
managed to rub him back to black in time for the
Mack Lobell also liked chocolate bonbons and he
drank from bottles.
“We were racing in Germany on another occasion, and
we were skeptical about the local water,” Pettersson
said. “We bought bottled water and poured it in his
bucket. Mack took one of the bottles in his mouth,
turned it upside down and drank! He was a really
Mack Lobell was hard to catch in the paddock.
Patience was the key word.
Mack Lobell, driven by John Campbell, set
eight world records in his racing career.
“You had to wait for him to come to you,” said
Pettersson. “Most things had to be on his terms. If
you let him have his way, to a certain extent, he
Pettersson often let Mack Lobell take to the gallop
when training, but Magnusson didn’t know.
“Mack preferred to gallop, so I let him,” she said.
“He was probably one of the first trotters to train
at a gallop. But when John-Erik watched, I made Mack
Pettersson’s voice cracked as she talked about the
horse that made such an impression on her life and
“I still think about him,” she said. “He was special
to me. The great ones seem to be one-man-horses and
we got along really well.”
Lindgren, on the other hand, never saw Mack Lobell
race, but she said she is blessed to get the chance
to care for such a legendary performer.
“Mack Lobell is the horse that got me interested in
trotters,” she said. “I had his poster on my bedroom
wall. It is awesome that I get to care for my
childhood idol in his old age.”