For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Thursday, May 8, 2014

America's Newest FFAller Debuts Saturday Night

Contributor Peter Lawrence provides us a piece about the latest trotting star in America.
Sebastian K and Pete Lawrence (photo by Bjorn Noren)
Somewhere adjacent to this text is me and my new pal, the 8-year-old free-for-all trotter Sebastian K. in a photo taken several weeks ago.

The shot was taken by chief assistant Bjorn "Bernie" Noren at trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt's sprawling "Legend Farm," in (or around) Wrightstown, New Jersey.

Haven't heard of Sebastian K.? Not familiar with Ake Svanstedt? That's understandable; they're both completely unknown quantities here in the United States, though both are big, big stars in Europe, particularly in Sweden.

Sebastian K. was Horse of the Year over yonder in 2012, a year in which he earned just shy of $900,000, give or take a kroner or two, according to U.S. Trotting Association statistics and its currency conversions.

A son of - for me - the obscure sire "Korean," Sebastian K. is out of a Probe mare named Gabriella K. You'll find Super Bowl's name in Korean's pedigree somewhere, along with the French sire Fakir Du Vivier, which sounds somewhat familiar.

But what's much more important is that Sebastian K. earned the equivalent of $650,000 just last year in winning races like the Aby Stora Pris (which he also won in 2012) and the Oslo (Norway) Grand Prix. He also won the Finlandia-Ajo (not surprisingly, in Finland) in 2012.

To put the Aby Stora Pris in perspective, past winners include Victory Tilly, Ideal Du Gazeau, The Onion and Ourasi. Oslo Grand Prix winners include Peace Corps, Arch Madness, Victory Tilly and Commander Crowe. Finlandia champs include Ideal Du Gazeau, Napoletano, Grade's Singing, Florida Jewel and Commander Crowe.

Owned by a group called Knutsson Trotting AB, which lists an address in Vero Beach, Florida, Sebastian K. has lifetime earnings of nearly $2.3 million. He qualified for Svanstedt in 1:56.2 on April 26 at the Meadowlands, finishing fourth behind two stakes-winners, Corky and D'Orsay.

He makes his debut under the lights, for U.S. dollars, this Saturday in a $40,000 elimination for the A.J. Cutler Memorial, also at M'lands.

How Sebastian K. will perform here is anyone's guess, though the owners have speculated that a 1:50 record is possible. The all-time world's trotting race record in 1:49.3, taken by Enough Talk in 2008 at the one-turn Colonial Downs in Virginia.

But first, Sebastian K. has to win here at all, which may be a tall order this year. The FFA division looks as stacked as any I can remember in quite a while, maybe ever.

Already back racing, or on the verge, right now are Modern Family, Uncle Peter, Sevruga, Market Share, Archangel, Intimidate, plus oldies-but-goodies Arch Madness and Daylon Magician. Mister Herbie, Wishing Stone and Hot Shot Blue Chip are eligible for the big trots and may be back soon, too.

Waiting in the weeds are last year's fine sophomores Royalty For Life, Spider Blue Chip, Creatine and Smilin' Eli.

Two mares could well have a say in things, too: Maven, who has already been competitive against the boys ... and the defending Horse of the Year, Bee A Magician, who has yet to attempt it.

There may be other free-for-all trotting stars I haven't named, and, frankly, the tenth- or 12th-best isn't much less of a threat to win than the best, whoever that turns out being.

And just who is this Ake Svanstedt fellow? You'll just have to wait for that in a subsequent installment.

Look for it here soon.


No comments: