04/28/2015 10:57AM

Harness: Svanstedt preparing for year two in the U.S.

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Derick Giwner
The fastest trotter ever, Sebastian K is aiming for a June return to the races.

Driver/trainer Ake Svanstedt took North America by storm in his initial year of racing on this continent. The perennial leading horseman in Sweden virtually started over yet was able to finish 17th in earnings last year while acclimating to the new surroundings and a different style of racing.

The Svanstedt barn started off 2014 hot, but admittedly ran into some issues as autumn began to set in. Bouts with sickness in the barn took its toll and perhaps simple training methods that worked wonderfully in Sweden were backfiring as the year dragged on.

“We changed a lot,” said Svanstedt on his training methods this year versus his initial U.S. season. “There are a lot of things that are different here and a lot of things to learn.”

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Few horses captured the attention of harness racing enthusiasts in 2014 like the Svanstedt-trained Sebastian K. In his first year of racing in North America, Sebastian K won 8 of 13 races and earned $663,853. In the process he set a world record, becoming the fastest trotter in history with his 1:49 clocking at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

Svanstedt reports that Sebastian K is training well for his return to the races in June. By that time last year he already had a couple of starts under his belt, but perhaps along the lines of changing his techniques for racing in the U.S., Svanstedt will limit his star trotter’s starts in 2015.

“He was breeding in December and January so he came back to our stable in February,” said Svanstedt. “He’s 9 years old but he is the same horse and is feeling good.”

In with a chance to eclipse Sebastian K’s stature as star of the stable is Centurion ATM. A 3-year-old colt with Hambletonian expectations, he won 3 of 8 starts a year ago including the prestigious Peter Haughton final at the Meadowlands.

“He is training well,” said Svanstedt, who added that the colt would arrive from Florida to continue training at his Legend Farm in New Jersey this week.

Expected to qualify sometime in May, Ceturion ATM has “grown up a little” according to Svanstedt and ranks as his top 3-year-old. Whether or not that puts him in the winner’s circle for the Hambletonian is another story.

“Of course,” said Svanstedt when asked about wanting to win the big race on the second Saturday in August. “It’s the biggest race in America. It is the race everybody wants to win.”

By any measure, Svanstedt’s first year state-side was a success. He now has over 80 horses in the barn and a chance to push forward to another level.

“Everything is good so far, but we’ll see what they can do during the races,” chuckled Svanstedt.

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