A week after winning his North American debut in 1:50.1 to equal history's fastest trotting race on a one-mile track, Sebastian K will start from post No. 1 in Saturday's $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands.
"Sebastian K never raced back-to-back weeks, he always had like two weeks between the races, so that's the only question mark," said Bjorn "Bernie" Noren, assistant to Sebastian K's trainer-driver, about the Swedish-born star's previous schedule in Europe.
"But when we trained him (Wednesday) he was very smooth and Ake is very happy with how he came out of the race. He'll get two days off in the paddock and we'll race him Saturday."
Sebastian K, an 8-year-old sent off at 5-1 odds, won his Cutler elim by 1-1/4 lengths over Modern Family, who set the early fractions of :26.4, :55.1 and 1:23.1. Sebastian K trotted his final quarter-mile in :27 to lead Modern Family, Intimidate,, and DW's NY Yank to the wire and advance to the Cutler final.
Market Share, who was last season's Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter, won the other Cutler elim in 1:50.3. Market Share, who also was making his seasonal debut, trotted his final quarter-mile in :26.4 to overcome runner-up Arch Madness by one length. Undercover Strike, Sevruga, and Possessed Fashion also reached the final.
"We knew our horse was ready to race," Noren said. "Ake had him qualify very good and he knew he was going to do a good race, but he was surprised by the time too. He didn't expect him to go that fast right off the bat. He won and he won with some power left in the lines. He was not all out in that mile.
"Of course (the final is) a harder competition; you've got 10 good horses. You've got Market Share and he's a tough horse, a game horse. You've got Arch Madness and I think he did a tremendous race too. It will be a good race."
Sebastian K, by the stallionout of the mare Gabriella K, has won 27 of 64 career races and $2.31 million for owner Knutsson Trotting. He raced last weekend without shoes, which is more common in Europe, as he equaled a world record already shared by , , Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim and .
"He always raced without shoes in Sweden," Noren said. "He's a different horse without shoes. Of course, you have to look at the racetrack; the racetrack cannot be hard. You cannot race on a hard racetrack without shoes. Ake warmed the horse up and felt the track was very good, the track crew did a very good job to get a nice cushion, so he decided to race him without shoes.
"If the track is OK, every time he races he's going to race barefoot."
Sebastian K will get time off following the Cutler as he will not compete in the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 25 at Harrah's Philadelphia.
"The schedule we have planned out, we plan to race him at the Meadowlands," Noren said. "We like to support (New Meadowlands Racing Chairman) Jeff Gural and all they do for the harness racing and the racetrack at the Meadowlands is probably the best too with the kind of speed they have up there."
Following is the field in post order for the Cutler Memorial with listed drivers and trainers: 1. Sebastian K,, ; 2. Market Share, , ; 3. Sevruga, , ; 4. , , ; 5. Intimidate, , ; 6. Undercover Strike, , ; 7. Arch Madness, , ; 8. Possessed Fashion, , ; 9. Modern Family, , ; 10. DW's NY Yank, , .
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications