A stellar 13-race card featuring the $603,000 Maple Leaf Trot has been assembled for Saturday night (July 19) at Mohawk Racetrack. Sebastian K, the world's fastest trotter (1:49f), highlights the field of 10 for the 63rd edition of Canada's most storied trotting event, the Maple Leaf Trot (Race 9).
The eight-year-old "Scandinavian Powerhouse" won his elimination last Friday (July 11) for trainer-driver Ake Svandstedt in 1:52.2. Upon earning the right to select his post position for the final, Svandstedt selected the rail as the starting spot for his prized trotter. Svandstedt, a top horseman in his native Sweden for many years, relocated his stable to North America this season and is in the midst of a successful campaign, thanks in large part to Sebastian K who is a perfect five for five on North American soil.
The high point of the season thus far for Sebastian K was a seven-length victory in the Sun Invitational at Pocono Downs on June 28, in which he became the fastest trotter in the history of harness racing with a jaw-dropping mile time of 1:49. Before coming to North America, Sebastian K had victories in top events such as the 2013 Oslo Grand Prix, a heat of the 2013 Elitlopp and the 2012 UET Trotting Masters.
The nine rivals who will look to knock Sebastian K off the top of the mountain, include the last two Maple Leaf Trot winners, Mister Herbie ('12) and Market Share ('13). Market Share won the second elimination last week in 1:53 with a last quarter of :26.4 for driver Tim Tetrick and trainer Linda Toscano. His connections selected post position two for the final. The five-year-son of Revenue Classical Flirt is the richest horse in the field with over $3.2 million in career earnings. Market Share followed up his Maple Leaf Trot victory last year with a triumph in the Breeders Crown. His career highlights also include two million-dollar race victories in 2012 in the Hambletonian at the Meadowlands and the Canadian Trotting Classic at Mohawk.
Leading the charge for the local horses will be Mister Herbie, who finished runner-up to Market Share in not only his elimination last week, but also in last year's final. The Jeff Gillis trainee won the 2012 edition of the Maple Leaf Trot in a stakes and track record clocking of 1:50.4 and was last year's O'Brien Award winner as top older trotter in Canada. Mister Herbie will start from post six and will be driven by Hall of Fame driver Steve Condren who won his first and only Maple Leaf Trot in 1988 with Natural Image.
The seven other challengers in the field are a group of well accomplished standardbreds. Intimidate, a past Breeders Crown and O'Brien Award winner, will start from post three for driver Sylvain Filion and trainer Luc Blais.
Ron Burke, North America's leading trainer, will send out two starters. Archangel, post four, was the 2012 Yonkers Trot champion, while Wishing Stone, post five, has had success in both North America and Europe with victories in the 2012 Copenhagen Cup in Denmark and the 2013 Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah's Philadelphia.
Creatine, last year's Kentucky Futurity winner, will start from post seven for the duo of Hall of Fame driver Mike Lachance and trotting conditioner Bob Stewart.
Undercover Strike will leave from post eight and is a Preferred winner at both Mohawk and the Meadows. He is sent out by trainer Tony O'Sullivan and will be driven by Doug McNair.
Flanagan Memory, who won last year's Goodtimes, Ontario Sires Stakes Super Final and an O'Brien Award, starts from post nine for trainer Rene Dion and Woodbine/Mohawk's leading driver Chris Christoforou.
Modern Family, a multiple stakes winner, will start from post ten for trainer Daryl Bier and will have Ron Pierce, a two-time Maple Leaf Trot winner, in the sulky.
The field of ten for the Maple Leaf Trot has combined for 188 career victories and career earnings of $13,837,506.
The Maple Leaf Trot undercard will feature four Canadian Breeders Championships (Races 2,3,7,10) for 3-year-olds.
Trevor Ritchie, a three-time Maple Leaf Trot winning driver ('03 Rotation, '06 Peaceful Way, '07 Equinox Bi), recently announced his retirement from driving. Ritchie will be on hand Saturday night to present the trophy to this year's winner and will be a special guest on Mohawk Racing Live's pre-game show beginning at 6:45 p.m.
Post time for Saturday's Maple Leaf Trot card is 7:25 p.m, with the Maple Leaf Trot expected to go behind the gate at 10:05 p.m.
Race 9 Maple Leaf Trot Purse: $603,000
1. Sebastian K Ake Svandstedt Ake Svandstedt 2/5
2. Market Share Tim Tetrick Linda Toscano 6-1
3. Intimidate Sylvain Filion Luc Blais 12-1
4. Archangel Jody Jamieson Ron Burke 10-1
5. Wishing Stone Randall Waples Ron Burke 20-1
6. Mister Herbie Steve Condren Jeff Gillis 15-1
7. Creatine Mike Lachance Bob Stewart 15-1
8. Undercover Strike Doug McNair Tony O'Sullivan 25-1
9. Flanagan Memory Chris Christoforou Rene Dion 25-1
10. Modern Family Ron Pierce Daryl Bier 20-1
AE: Wheeling N Dealin Jody Jamieson Luc Blais N/A