Day At The Track

Sebastian K to make first start on half mile

05:00 AM 25 Oct 2014 NZDT
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Sebastian K, harness racing
Sebastian K to make his first start on a half mile oval
Lisa Photo

In the world of harness racing there is not much that super star trotter Sebastian K has not done.

The eight-year-old stallion by Korean has nearly $3 million in career earnings, has won most every major event in Europe, came to the USA this year and scored the fastest one mile race in Standardbred history with his 1:49 mile at Pocono Downs.

So what’s left for the world champion to prove?

How about making his first start ever on a half mile track!

That’s right. Sebastian K has never raced on a half mile oval. He has 74 lifetime starts, 34 wins, 14 seconds and 2 thirds in his championship career. But can he handle the sharper turns on a half mile track?

“It will not be a problem,” said Bjorn “Bernie” Noren, second trainer for Ake Svanstedt, “He (Sebastian K) is in good shape and with his quick early speed he will be OK on the smaller track.”

This Saturday Sebastian K and Svanstedt will start from post six in the $250,000 International Trot Preview at Yonkers Raceway. The invitational event has drawn eight of the top trotters in racing. Included in the field and making his USA debut of another European champion, Commander Crowe, who has raced against Sebastian K in the past.

Also in the field and the only mare against male rivals, is the 2013 Dan Patch Harness Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician. In fact, the total career earnings of the eight horses in the race is an amazing $17 million. Both Commander Crowe and Arch Madness are career earners of more than $4 million each.

The Yonkers International Trot also tests the stamina of these champion trotters as the race is not the usual distance of one mile, the mainstay of North American harness racing, but is an extra distance race at one and one-quarter mile.

How will that affect Sebastian K, who now has to maneuver the sharper turns of a half mile oval five times instead of just four times.

“It will affect the American horses much more than it will Sebastian K,” said Noren. “They are not use to going an extra quarter mile, but Sebastian K, Commander Crowe and Arch Madness have all raced extra distances and should have an advantage over the other horses.”

Commander Crowe has just come over from Europe and may not have had enough time to recover from the stress of trip and according to Noren, “He may not be at 100% for this race. He is a very great horse but the trip overseas is very tough on a horse. He could be in good shape but I would look for him to be at his best for the Breeders Crown next month at the Meadowlands.

“It is good that he (Commander Crowe) has come over here to race,” Noren added, “The competition will help make the races more exciting for everyone here.”

When asked to size up the competition against Sebastian K on Saturday, Noren summed it up.

“Of course Sebastian K is the best in the race,” Noren chuckled, “And Ake Svantsted is so good at measuring a horse in an extra distance race. I think that Archangel and Arch Madness can be good and if Commander Crowe is feeling good he will be tough too.”

The big question in the race will be that most of the horses entered have not set foot on a half mile track for most of their careers and they include Commander Crowe, Archangel, Sebastian K, Natural Herbie and Not Afraid. That’s five of the eight starters.

And the other three, Bee A Magician, Obrigado and Arch Madness, have all won or were second in their last starts on Yonkers half mile oval.

The morning line has Natural Herbie from post seven as the 3-1 race favorite. He is on a three-race winning streak. Arch Madness is the second choice at odds of 7/2 and for the first time since arriving in the USA, Sebastian K is not the race favorite in the morning line, but third choice at 4-1.

With such keen competition, the revival of the International Trot will be quite the event to watch this weekend.

Here is the field in post position order:

$250,000 International Trot Preview 1 ¼ miles

  1. Commander Crowe (Orjan Kihlstrom) 8-1
  2. Bee A Magician (David Miller) 8-1
  3. Archangel (Matt Kakaley) 6-1
  4. Obrigado (Jason Bartlett) 5-1
  5. Arch Madness (George Brennan) 7/2
  6. Sebastian K (Ake Svanstedt) 4-1
  7. Natural Herbie (Verlin Yoder) 3-1
  8. Not Afraid (Brett Miller) 20-1

By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink.com 

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