One-On-One with Trainer/Driver Ake Svanstedt

09:34 AM 11 Jul 2014 NZST
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Ake Svanstedt, harness racing
Ake Svanstedt

Sebastian K has taken the harness racing world by storm. Sebastian K turned in the fastest mile in the history in harness racing with an awe inspiring 1:49 victory in the Mohegan Sun Invitational Trot. Previously, Sebastian K had already amazed the harness racing world by becoming the first horse to trot three consecutive sub 1:51 miles.

Sebastian K will look to add to his unblemished North American record when he ventures north of the border to race in Maple Leaf Trot Eliminations on Friday at Mohawk. 

Ake Svanstedt has established his new training operation by buying a new farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. He has a stable of 53 horses at his new operation.

We recently were able to see his latest star, Your So Vain, winning the first ever Hambletonian Maturity with an uncanny drive to victory over Bee A Magician. His unique training and driving skills has been exposed to the harness racing world

Ake Svanstedt dominated harness racing in Sweden for 15 years. His acclaimed record includes four Trainer of the Year and three Driver of the Year Awards in Sweden.

One-On-One is done exclusively for Harnesslink.com by Brian McEvoy

HLINK: Congratulations on your world record performance at Pocono Downs. How did Sebastian K come out of the race?

AS: He came out great. He is eating well, drinking well and feeling real good.

HLINK: Did you decide to go for the world record at Pocono?

AS: He warmed up really well. He was doing so well in the race, so I decided to go for it. I was pushing him at the end.

HLINK: Is this the best that Sebastian K has ever been?

AS: These last two races is the best he has ever been.

HLINK: Can anybody beat Sebastian K?

AS: He can come out of form or something can happen in a race.  Every race is a new race.

HLINK: Your next race is the Maple Leaf Trot at Mohawk? When will you ship up for that?

AS: Hopefully we get out of the elimination and can go right to the final. We will ship the day before.

HLINK: What other races are on Sebastian K's schedule?

AS: We have a race at Vernon Downs in August, Centaur Trotting Classic at Hoosier Park on September 20th and Allerage at Lexington on September 28th.

HLINK: Did Sebastian K race without shoes on Saturday at Pocono?

AS: Yes he raced without shoes

HLINK: What did you think of the track surface at Pocono Downs

AS: It is a very nice track. It is one of the fastest we have ever driven on.

HLINK: In Sweden you had a stable of over two hundred horses. Your stable now has fifty-three horses. How many horses would you like to have in your stable?

AS: We do not want many more. We are very happy with the amount of horses we have now.

HLINK: You recently purchased a new horse farm in Wrightstown, New Jersey. Can you tell us about the place?

AS: It is a perfect farm. It is a very nice area that is very quiet. It is a 140 acre farm. There is a round and a straight track for conditioning. There is a large paddock with plenty of room. It is a perfect training farm.

HLINK: You now have Muscle Network ($324,350 earned last year) in your barn. How is he doing and when will we see him race.

AS: He is in a qualifier Saturday. We are looking at the Stanley Dancer at the Meadowlands to race him. He is a really nice horse. He is getting better and better.

HLINK: You have a large group of two-year-olds that you will have racing. What can you tell us about them and who is your next star?

AS: We have one in Pocono on Friday. We have a couple in the New Jersey Sire Stakes on Friday. We don't go too fast in the qualifiers. We are going to have to see them in the races a few times. It's all about speed these days. You have to see who can keep up with the speed. You don't want to get too high on a horse and then get disappointed.

HLINK: Ocean Love Potion was an impressive winner the other day in the Pennsylvania Sire stakes for three-year-old fillies. Please tell us about her progress.

AS: She did not do too much as a two-year-old. She was doing very well over the winter. She really surprised us in the race. When she is training she doesn't seem like she is really training. She has a really good head for the races.

HLINK: You have some other three-year-olds.

AS: Heaven's Door won the Sire Stakes Final. She is a really nice filly that will be in the Hambletonian Oaks. She won her last race and is in next weekend. She is going to the Oaks after that.

HLINK: We are all intrigued by your white horse, White Bliss. How is this horse progressing?

AS: He is training down. He had some bad colic which put his training back a few weeks. We are in no hurry with him. He will probably start racing in September.

HLINK: The other night, Stonebridge Force, and Yannick Gingra's horse Cenapa Hanover, got into a hardball battle on the lead. You parked out Cenapa Hanover and wouldn't let him pass.

AS: Yannick horse was bearing out. We had to hold our speed. You don't want to give anything for free.

HLINK: Your So Vain Made an impressive move to the top the other night. Tell us about that race?

AS: They were going really slow. They were walking. I thought that I better make that move now before someone else does. I wanted to get to the lead and let them catch me.

HLINK: Do you train your pacers any different than the trotters?

AS: We train them the same as the trotters.

HLINK: How is your training methods different than other trainers in America?

AS: We train the horses to be really strong. If there are strong they can carry their speed a long way. That is the main thing.

HLINK: Tell us about your owners?

AS: We have a great bunch of owners. Most of our owners are from Sweden. We encouraged them to come to America and have some success with us.

HLINK: You have a horse with Jeff Gural, Blue Muse. How is it to train for him?

AS: He is easy to train for. He doesn't ask many questions. He wants to know some info once in a while. He is a great guy to train for. It was an honor to be asked to train horses for Jeff Gural.

HLINK: You have been doing some catch driving. How much of that will you be doing? You drove for the Burkes, did they tell you anything?

AS: We were driving to get to know the speed of the races and get to know the other drivers. The speed is a little different than Sweden. If we get to drive a good horse, of course we are going to drive him. The Burkes just asked us to drive the horse.

HLINK: What do you think of Father Patrick?

AS: He is a really nice horse. It is one of the best three-year-olds I have ever seen.

HLINK: We have in America rivalries that develop. It is like in hockey when the Flyers play the Rangers. They don't like each other. Do you see a rivalry developing between Jimmy Takter and yourself?

AS: No!!! no! no! It's not like that, of course we are competing on the track. It is friendly competition.

HLINK: What can we do to make racing in America better and more popular?

AS: (Laughter) I don't know. (Laughter). I think we need to get the people more connected with the great horses. We have to promote the sport. We should get the people more connected with the people behind the scene, the trainers and the drivers.

HLINK: People are pronouncing your first name many different ways. Some say “Akee” and some say “Okee”…Can you please tell us the correct way?

AS: The correct way to say it is “Okee,” but if someone wants to say it different I do not mind. It is difficult to get the proper translation from Swedish to American.

We have already seen Ake Svanstedt dominate two divisions of the trotters with Sebastian K and Your So Vain. In the coming months, Ake will be unveiling his stable of acclaimed two-year-old trotters. It will not be a surprise to see Ake produce some more stars for the harness world. Nothing he does the rest of the year will come as a shock. He has already made harness racing history and will be adding to that resume.

By Brian McEvoy for Harnesslink.com

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