Richard Gutnick looked at the field for the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at Meadowlands Racetrack and reached a conclusion that might be bad for an owner, but good for a fan. Gutnick, fortunately, is both.
"It's not going to be an easy race, but it's going to be a good race,” said Gutnick, who co-owns two-time Dan Patch Award-winner Market Share. "It's like a who's who of harness racing. To me, these are the (races) you're waiting for. Races like this where you're racing against the best, you can't take anything for granted.
"I'm excited about the year. There are a lot of tough horses out there, especially when you add in the 4 year olds that are coming back, and it's going to be a tough year. But that's what racing is all about. I like when we go against the best. It's how you find out how good you are.”
Market Share was among 15 horses entered in the Cutler, so two $40,000 eliminations will be held Saturday night at the Big M. The top five finishers from each division will return for the $180,000 (est.) final on May 17.
The first elim in post order is Sebastian K, Sweet Justice, DW's NY Yank, Intimidate, Archangel, Modern Family, Americash Express, and Upfront Billy. The second elim in post order is Sevruga, Market Share, Daylon Magician, Possessed Fashion, Quick Deal, Undercover Strike, and Arch Madness.
Market Share, a 5 year old who has won 21 of 39 career races and $3.11 million, is making his 2014 debut. Trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick, Market Share's top wins include the 2012 Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic and the 2013 Breeders Crown, Maple Leaf Trot, and TVG Free For All Series Championship.
He received the 2012 Dan Patch Award for best 3-year-old male trotter and the 2013 Dan Patch Award for best older male trotter.
Market Share prepped for the Cutler with two qualifiers at the Meadowlands, winning the second on May 3 in 1:52.4 with a :54.4 final half-mile.
"I was very happy with his qualifiers,” said Gutnick, who owns Market Share with TLP Stable and Bill Augustine. "Last week he did the second half under a hold, at least toward the end he was not being asked (to go). It's nice when you have a horse that can leave fast and close fast. He can do both.”
Sebastian K, an 8 year old, will be making his North American debut with trainer-driver Ake Svanstedt. Sebastian K, who was Sweden's Horse of the Year in 2012, has won 26 of 63 career races and the equivalent of $2.29 million in U.S. dollars. He finished last season by winning the Group 1 Aby Stora Pris for the second consecutive year.
Intimidate won the 2012 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old male trotters and has captured 21 of 30 career starts and $605,293. Archangel was the 2012 Yonkers Trot winner and spent 2013 in the stallion shed. He has won 14 of 32 races and $906,579 lifetime. Modern Family and Sweet Justice are among three trotters sharing this season's fastest mile to date, 1:51.1.
Sevruga is the defending Cutler champion and has won 28 of 64 races and $913,566 in his career. Arch Madness, who won the Cutler in 2010, has won 34 of 108 starts and $4.14 million lifetime. Other top wins for Arch Madness include the 2007 Breeders Crown for 3-year-old males, the 2008 Maple Leaf Trot, and 2011 Oslo Grand Prix.
Saturday's card also features the opening round of the TVG Free For All Series for older male pacers. The field in post order is Modern Legend, Thinking Out Loud, Foiled Again, Word Power, Sweet Lou, Bolt The Duer, Warrawee Needy, Dovuto Hanover, Bettor's Edge, and Golden Receiver. (HRC)