If it seems like a while since world champion trotter Sebastian K went to the racetrack, that's because it is.
The No. 1-ranked harness racing horse in North America last appeared on May 17 when he won the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial in a stakes-record 1:50.2.
His connections hoped to race last week in the third round of the TVG Free For All Series for older trotters, but the race failed to draw enough entries. So Sebastian K's return was delayed until Friday's $50,000 TVG leg.
But gaps in Sebastian K's schedule are nothing new. After all, when he competed in the Cutler Memorial eliminations and final, it marked the first time he ever raced in consecutive weeks.
"He's been off a month before and come back racing very good without training him too hard," said Bernie Noren, top assistant to Sebastian K's trainer-and-driver. "We don't go on the round track, but we've been training regularly on the sand track and doing intervals. He's doing very good, training very well."
Sebastian K is the 4-5 morning line favorite in Friday's race. He will leave from post five. The remainder of the field features DW's NY Yank,, Market Share, Arch Madness, Creatine, and Sevruga.
Following the TVG Free For All Series start, Sebastian K is expected to head to Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on June 28 for the $100,000 Mohegan Sun Invitational Trot.
"It would have been nice to have gotten to race last week because then he would have had two weeks for the next race," Noren said. "He's going to race in the Pocono Invitational next Saturday. It would have been nice not to race two weeks in a row because he's going to have a busy schedule in July. But it is the schedule and he'll have eight days between the races."
Owned by Knutsson Trotting Inc., Sebastian K was the U.S. Trotting Association's Horse of the Month for May after winning his Cutler Memorial elimination in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1 and capturing the Cutler final a week later.
The Cutler elims and final counted as the first two rounds of the TVG Series. Those two starts were the beginning of Sebastian K's North American racing career. The 8-year-old trotter was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012 and has won 28 of 65 lifetime starts and earned $2.39 million.
Svanstedt, Sweden's five-time Trainer of the Year and three-time Driver of the Year award winner, moved his stable to the U.S. late in 2013. Sebastian K has generated excitement on this side of the Atlantic and added depth to an already talented division of older trotters.
"We're very happy that people are excited to see him and come forward and say it was nice to show up with a nice horse," Noren said. "I'm a big harness fan, always have been all my life, so to give harness racing a boost so that we can go forward with this sport that we love, it's a great thing to do. I know it's a lot of money to be a stallion, but everybody loves racing. We don't like to see good horses in the breeding shed too early."
by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications