Freehold, NJ --- Trainer Julie Miller has had her hands full lately, with husband, and racing partner, driver Andy Miller on the mend from broken vertebrae sustained in a driving accident on April 15. Sevruga, the 6-year-old trotter from their stable, on the other hand, is well on his way following his own recovery, with two consecutive wins coming into Friday’s $30,000 Free For All Handicap at the Meadowlands.
Sevruga, who won nine of 22 races and earned $484,575 in 2013 for owner KDM Stables, had surgery for a bone chip in a hind ankle last fall. His wins included the John Cashman Jr. Memorial and Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, both at the Meadowlands, and he finished worse than third only once in his first 19 starts.
He was off the board in his last three races and missed the final of the TVG Free For All Series after ending the preliminary rounds as the points leader.
“We gave him the recommended recovery time that Dr. (surgeon Patty) Hogan wanted and he seems to have bounced back really good,” Julie Miller said. “Now we’re going at it with the higher level competition on Friday night.”
Sevruga will start Friday’s race from post five with Ron Pierce handling the driving. Perennial trotting powerhouse and $4.14 million winner Arch Madness, making his seasonal debut at age 10, has post six while Uncle Peter, holder of a not-yet-accepted Elitlopp invitation, has post seven.
“I’m just happy he’s bounced back,” Miller said. “I think he can still compete with the top horses. On the mile track I’m not sure it makes much difference (that Arch Madness and Uncle Peter are outside him). It’s a pretty equal playing field; it’s a good race with a lot of good horses. It’ll be a nice race for the fans.”
Unlike some of the sport’s top older trotters looking at European racing dates, Sevruga will stay close to home.
“He’ll stay domestic, if we can do well here, that’s our agenda,” Miller said. “The good horses do overcome them and we just try to make sure they’re in top condition when they do race. I’m really confident in how he’s come back and just hope he still has it in him and can maintain it.”
Andy Miller is just two weeks into an anticipated six month recovery period and doing as well as can be expected.
“Andy has a back brace and is able to walk a little bit,” Julie Miller said. “He’s on the road to recovery. We’re thankful it wasn’t worse and hope it will be a fast six months. The kids (T.J. and Olivia) have really come up to the plate and are helping with the horses at home. At 16 and 14, they can really help out a lot.”
Following is the field in post order for the FFA Handicap: 1. Quick Deal, 2. Sweet Justice, 3. Not Afraid, 4. Daylon Magician, 5. Sevruga, 6. Arch Madness, 7. Uncle Peter.
by Ellen Harvey, for Harness Racing Communications