Market Share will not head to Sweden to race in the Elitlopp at the end of the month, and a Swedish horse is one of the reasons the two-time Dan Patch Award winner is staying home.
Richard Gutnick, who heads the Market Share ownership group, says the 5-year-old trotter will race in Saturday's $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final at Meadowlands Racetrack and then point toward the Maxie Lee Memorial Invitational on May 25 at Harrah's Philadelphia. The Elitlopp also is May 25.
The reasons for the decision were the demands of racing and traveling, not to mention the budding of a potential rivalry with 2012 Swedish Horse of the Year Sebastian K.
Sebastian K made his North American debut Saturday night, winning his Cutler elimination in a world-record-equaling 1:50.1 mile at the Meadowlands. Market Share won his Cutler elim in 1:50.3.
"Weather conditions and track conditions permitting, I think we will see a sub-1:50 time (in the Cutler final),” Gutnick said. "I really don't know who will win, but there will be two great horses going at each other.
"Seeing what we're up against, it makes no sense to go to Sweden. If the final goes in sub 1:50, then we have to ship to Sweden and go two heats (in the Elitlopp) and then ship home, I don't think we'll have much horse left after that.
"A Swedish horse was the deciding factor. I'm very happy we held off in making the decision until now. Maybe next year, if all goes well, we can do something different.”
Sebastian K, trained and driven by Ake Svanstedt, equaled the fastest mile ever on a two-turn one-mile-size racetrack. The mark already was shared by Donato Hanover, Muscle Hill, Giant Diablo, Lucky Jim and Gutnick's Chapter Seven. The fastest trotting mile in history is 1:49.3, which was set by Enough Talk at one-turn Colonial Downs in 2008.
An 8 year old by the stallion Korean out of the mare Gabriella K, Sebastian K has won 27 of 64 career races and $2.31 million for owner Knutsson Trotting Inc.
"He's a gorgeous horse, big and powerful,” Gutnick said. "He got a better trip than we did, but he just blew by everyone effortlessly. He was a sight to behold. I really enjoyed watching him.”
Market Share, who won the Hambletonian and Canadian Trotting Classic at age three and the Breeders Crown and Maple Leaf Trot at four, has captured 22 of 40 lifetime starts and earned $3.13 million. He is owned by Gutnick, TLP Stable and Bill Augustine. He is trained by Linda Toscano and driven by Tim Tetrick.
The start in the Cutler elim was Market Share's first race of 2014. He was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male trotter in 2012 and was the Dan Patch Award winner for best older male trotter in 2013.
His time Saturday equaled his career best and would have set the world record for an older stallion, if not for Sebastian K winning earlier on the card.
"We got forced four wide in our elim, but closed like gangbusters,” Gutnick said. "It's going to be a hell of a final.”
Gutnick envisions a summer-long rivalry between Market Share and Sebastian K, who now appear to headline an increasingly deep group of older trotters.
"This could be like Frazier and Ali,” Gutnick said, referring to the great boxing rivals of the 1970s, adding with a laugh, "Hopefully, we're Ali with the quickness.
"There are going to be two great horses going at each other. I really don't know who will win. Hopefully people will be interested and start watching more. It's going to be an exciting year. It may not be great for me as an owner (to have to race against Sebastian K) but from my perspective as a fan it's going to be great racing. And my passion is racing.” (HRC)