Goshen, NY -- Harness racing enthusiasts have been envisioning sub-1:50 trotting miles for a long time. Prognosticators are somewhat relieved that Sebastian K has finally eclipsed the previously held record by trotting in 1:49 last Saturday night over Pocono Downs' three-turn, five-eighths-mile track.
Immediately following this "monsters" 1:50.1 US debut on May 10, many suggested it was not a question of "if" the Swedish-bred superhorse would break the lofty barrier, but a matter of "when." No one, other than the competition, has been disappointed as Ãke Svanstedt has managed the horse perfectly since crossing the pond. With the help of Bernie Noren and staff, they look to make the Svanstedt Stable a household name in the states, as it is in their native Sweden.
Some have also suggested that the previous plateau-breaking record of 1:49.3 set at Colonial Downs should have an asterisk, as the Virginia oval is a one-turn track. Standardbreds racing over that 1¼-mile track, start from a chute on the backstretch and travel an entire half mile before they enter a turn. The fact that Colonial is the only pari-mutuel track in the United States that still has a hub rail is another anomaly.
Also, Colonial's 11/4 mile track is second only to Belmont in length, which is very telling about the propensity for horses to make speed over this oval. Nonetheless, for Harness Racing aficionados, Pocono Downs is still light years ahead. The last two Saturday nights provided the two fastest race cards in the history of the Standardbred.
Although all eyes were on Pennsylvania's Wyoming Valley for Sun Stakes Saturday and the nearly $2.3 million in purses, 18 different US tracks had racing on Friday and Saturday nights. With the Friday night debut of 2-year-olds in New Jersey Sire Stakes competition at the Meadowlands, I found myself surrounded by fans on the apron. However, not all of them had their eyes fixed upon the racetrack.
$7,500 in total prize money was plenty of incentive to attract a couple dozen beautiful women to the Meadowlands for the annual Ms. Hot to Trot contest. Of course, to go along with all those perfectly proportioned gals in string bikinis was several hundred very inquisitive men of all shapes and sizes. Several M1 staffers got the call to perform the duty of judging these bevvy of babes, including Nick Salvi who may have been the most experienced of the panelists. Justin Horowitz, AKA M.C. J-Ho, provided the ladies with thought-provoking questions to ensure that the contestants had beautiful minds to go along with their ample tangible assets.
Even Yonkers Raceway's "The Manager" made a special appearance. More than likely it was to cheer forin the early sire stakes events. Taking the subway from Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn to Port Authority, and then a bus to the Big M, he arrived early and was doing his iconic dance before each race. His plan was to catch the Route 120 bus after the third and be back to Yonkers by the eighth. Now that is dedication!
In between sessions of judging hotties, some great harness racing took place, with the babies having graduated from breakfast to supper time. Eddie Hart's Cam's Card Shark colt, Dealt A Winner, is now the fastest 2-year-old pacer in the country following a 1:52.4 romp withat the controls. The Jeffrey Snyner-owned, Hanover-bred lad was a $35,000 Harrisburg yearling purchase who looks every bit the bargain at this stage.
, the double-duty sire/racehorse removed any doubt that his particular style of breeding and breezing suits him. Going off at 10-1, the betting public was clearly not anticipating this kind of opening-night performance as the 7-year-old son of cruised wire-to-wire from post 10. drove the $2.23 million earner like he was the best in a 1:52.4 rout for the powerful stable.
And when it comes to vintage horse power, Burke Racing may have cornered the market!
Sweet Lou, Bettor's Edge and Foiled Again finished 1-2-3 in the $500,000 Ben Franklin at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday night. 5-year-old Sweet Lou's 1:47f performance was the fastest pacing mile ever on a 5/8-mile track and only a fifth off the mile-track mark. This was the most exciting horse race of the night, as Sweet Lou appeared headed by stable mate Bettor's Edge down the stretch. Dead game, he fought back like a champion and regained the lead in a mere two steps before the wire. Captaintreacherous finished fifth in that event. Leaving from post 8 he had a rough voyage, parked nearly every step of the way and still paced in 1:47.3.
Overall, the Sun Stakes card produced 5 world records and 11 horses set new lifetime marks. Needless to say, the awesome display of horsepower in a span of a just few hours was breathtaking. A horse that we are sure to hear a lot more about is thecolt, McWicked. Trained by and driven by , he set a new world mark for 3YO pacers in 1:47.3f and looks to start the "Jug three-peat" dialog.
Max J. Hempt and his wife Amy were on hand to present the Max C. Hempt trophy to the winning connections. A product of the "Keystone" legacy, Max C. runs the family's PA state-wide construction business, is an aspiring pilot, and was recently elected to the Vice President's post of the Harness Racing Museum & Hall of Fame. One would be hard-pressed to meet nicer people in all of racing.
Although winning the Beal proclaimed Father Patrick as the evening's shining star of the Hambo hopefuls, it seems that his shed row disciples will be in close proximity. Perhapshas cornered the market on 3YO trotting colts this year as Trixton and Nuncio (who was second) both seem equally capable of sipping from the Hambletonian challis. Despite el Padre' lowering his seasonal mark by a full two and half seconds to 1:50.2f, it appears that the 'anointed one' has been blessed with enough speed to break the 1:50 barrier at three!
Ready to take on Godzilla himself, Sebastian K had the crowd buzzing all night following his track crushing performance. Now the talk is how fast he may trot on a hot Hambo day at The Meadowlands. Regardless of what transpires in racing between now and then, it will most likely captivate the trotting conversation until the first Saturday in August.
Speaking of New Jersey, Sunday's trek down the NE ext. of the PA pike brought this scribe to Fair Winds Farm in Cream Ridge for an open house featuring veterinary clinic tours with Dr. Patti Hogan, and another Svanstedt stable favorite, White Bliss. The rare 'white colt' returned to his place of foaling to dash around his paddock, much to the delight of onlookers young and old. It was a fun afternoon under clear blue skies that made the industry proud.
The festivities began with several local leaders addressing the crowd about their intentions to promote and garner support for New Jersey agriculture and the horse business. Assemblyman Ron Dancer has worked tirelessly for years to ensure that Trenton pays attention to harness racing. He plans on putting forth a resolution to bolster agricultural education in the Garden State through the Future Farmers of America.
Former mayor of Millstone Township, Nancy Grgelja, owned no horses when she originally took the oath of office. Subsequently she caught the bug, and ten years later she has had 10 Standardbreds, several of which are still racing. Lillian Burry, whose resume reads like a lady who never stops moving, is now the director of the Monmouth County Freeholders. Of course the always active Dr. Karen Malinowski of the Rutgers Equine Science Center helped coordinate the day's events, along with the gracious hosting of Mark Mullen.
With construction on the NJ Turnpike around exit 8, and Jersey shore traffic reaching epic proportions, it was my intention to complete the final leg of my 539 mile journey and make it back to the Catskills before nightfall.
by Chris Tully for Harnesslink.com