Sebastian K did exactly what he's been doing all year long Friday night at Mohawk…dominated. "The Scandinavian Powerhouse" and trainer/driver Ake Svandstedt put on a trotting clinic in the first of two $40,000 eliminations for the Maple Leaf Trot, winning in 1:52.4. With his win, Svandstedt selected post 1 for the final (the complete draw appears below.)
Svandstedt blasted his prized trotter to the front through an opening quarter of :26.4. From there, Svandstedt was able to set training mile like fractions in the middle half, with his five other rivals following. After a half of :57, Sebastian K was challenged by Archangel and driver Sylvain Filion who pulled the pocket as they hit the three quarter pole in 1:25.4. In the stretch, Sebastian K turned aside the challenge of Archangel and left his challengers behind, sailing home in :26.4 for a four-length victory.
Creatine and driver Mike Lachance finished second, while Archangel held on for third.
"It seemed very easy, but that's good for him. He's very tight now, so it's good that we had an easy race for him," said Svandstedt following the race.
Svandstedt is in his first season racing in North America, after being a top trainer/driver in Sweden for many years. Since the move, his top trotter Sebastian K is a perfect five for five on North American soil.
An eight-year-old son of Korean – Gabriella K, Sebastian K will be the oldest horse in this year's Maple Leaf Trot final. Svandstedt said this isn't the first time he has had a horse excel at an older age.
"I had one more horse before, Gidde Palema, his best seasons were at eight, nine and ten years old…the old horses are so good."
Wishing Stone and Flanagan Memory finished fourth and fifth respectively to book a spot in next Saturday's final.
Sebastian K had more than $61,000 bet on him to win, as place and show wagering were not offered. He returned $2.10 to win.
In the second elimination, the defending Maple Leaf Trot champion Market Share and driver Tim Tetrick delivered a 1:53 'first over' victory.
The son of Revenue, trained by Linda Toscano for owners Richard Gutnick, T L P Stable and William Augustine, got away fourth and was moved first up around the final turn to challenge leader Intimidate.
At the top of the stretch, Market Share sprinted out to a two length lead and trotted home in :27 to win by two lengths over Mister Herbie, who followed Market Share second over, and Undercover Strike.
"He likes to travel and it's a nice cool night for him, but he does love this Canadian track," said Toscano following the race. "I really didn't want to be first up again, but it turned out really well and he was real brave when he crossed over and I was tickled with him."
The Maple Leaf Trot elimination victory was the third win in seven starts this season for Market Share and the 24th of his career. A past Hambletonian champion, the five-year-old has earnings of over $3.2 million.
Modern Family and Intimidate secured the final two spots for next Saturday's final.
Market Share paid $5.30 to win.
Following the eliminations, the post position draw for the $603,000 final was held in the paddock.
The two elimination winners earned the right to select their post position for the final, with Ake Svandstedt selecting the rail for Sebastian K and the connections of Market Share electing to start from post two.
Here is how they will lineup for the $603,000 finalon Saturday, July 19 at Mohawk.
Maple Leaf Trot – Purse: $603,000
1. Sebastian K – Ake Svandstedt
2. Market Share – Tim Tetrick
3. Intimidate – Sylvain Filion
4. Archangel – Sylvain Filion
5. Wishing Stone – Randall Waples
6. Mister Herbie – Steve Condren
7. Creatine – Mike Lachance
8. Undercover Strike – Doug McNair
9. Flanagan Memory – Chris Christoforou
10. Modern Family – Dave Palone
AE: Wheeling N Dealin – Jody Jamieson