Day At The Track

More fast times ahead for Sebastian K?

07:54 AM 01 Jul 2014 NZST
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Sebastian K, harness racing
Sebastian K and connections celebrating world record mile
Photo by Ken Weingartner

Sebastian K has gone faster than any trotter in history. And the 8-year-old star from Sweden might not be finished rewriting the record book.

"I think it is possible to go under 1:49," said Ake Svanstedt, Sebastian K's trainer and driver, two days after Sebastian K set the world record with his 1:49 win in Saturday's Sun Invitational at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. "Maybe at the Meadowlands on the mile track, if it is warm weather and the horse is in top form."

Sebastian K is unbeaten in four races since arriving in the U.S. from Sweden and has not trotted slower than 1:50.3 in any start. In fact, in addition to trotting the fastest mile in history on Saturday, his performance made him the first trotter to ever win four times in 1:50.3 or faster.

Enough Talk previously held the mark for the fastest trotting mile, 1:49.3, which was set in 2008 at Colonial Downs in Virginia. Colonial Downs is a one-turn mile oval, rather than a traditional two-turn mile track, known for producing fast times. Prior to Saturday, Enough Talk's time was the only sub-1:50.1 win by a trotter in history.

Pocono Downs is a five-eighths-mile oval, which has three turns to complete a mile. The previous best time on a five-eighths-mile track, 1:50.2, was set in May by Market Share at Harrah's Philadelphia.

"I thought [Sebastian K] could go that fast, so I'm not so surprised," said Svanstedt, who conditions the horse for owners Michael Knutsson and Tristan Sjoberg of Knutsson Trotting Inc. "It's a big [accomplishment], both in Europe and the USA. It's a big deal."

Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, has won 30 of 67 races in his career and earned $2.47 million.

In the Sun Invitational, Sebastian K started from the outside post, No. 7, in the field of seven. Svanstedt moved Sebastian K to the front in a :26.2 opening quarter mile and hit the halfway point in :55.3. Svanstedt pushed on the gas pedal from there, covering the final half-mile in :53.2.

"I had a bad [post] and Modern Family on the inside and he is very fast," Svanstedt said. "I thought if he's going to do a record I must come to the rail before the turn. It was a perfect day. The track was very nice and the horse is in very good condition and top form.

"After the half, I thought I must try to do the record and let him go. It is the first time I ever asked him to go like that and he was very strong."

Sebastian K seemed focused on the task at hand, unlike previous races where he let his mind wander when he got to the lead.

"He is different now," Svanstedt said. "Before when he [got the lead] he starts looking behind to the other horses and would win by one length. The last two races, he looked forward and did what I want."

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's exploits have generated excitement on both sides of the Atlantic since he started his North American racing campaign with a 1:50.1 win in his first start at the Meadowlands in May.

"He's not normal; he's a special horse," Svanstedt said. "There are not so many horses that can race so good when they are 8 years old.

"The owners brought the horse here because they thought he can do the record," he added. "Now he has done the record."

But he might not be done yet.

by Ken Weingartner, for Harness Racing Communications

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