05/15/2014 9:25AM

Meadowlands: Cutler victory within reach for Arch Madness

Derick Giwner
Arch Madness won the Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands back in 2010.

Saturday’s $175,000 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial at the Meadowlands is being dubbed “Clash of Titans”, with its author of the belief that the event will be a two-horse race between the recent world champion Sebastian K and the American champion Market Share. The two drew posts one and two respectively for the spectacle that could yield the fastest trotting mile in the sport’s history over a mile track.

That said, there are some in the crowd who are careful not to jump ahead and anoint a King from the first two names on the list. Certainly Trond Smedshammer and the $4.15 million winner Arch Madness should have a say in the outcome. He’s not the only other horse in the field with the speed and staying power to contend and even win on Saturday.

As brilliant as Sebastian K may have appeared to those who witnessed the tele-timer stop at 1:50 1/5, those in Europe would look at that effort in an entirely different way. It’s unlikely the eight-year-old had ever been involved in a purse race overseas that proved more like a training mile than an actual race. Allowed to get away third from the rail without a threat of a horse pulling in front, driver Ake Svanstedt took advantage of the lack of movement to stalk without stressing his horse. Sebastian K picked up the pace when called upon and trotted an impressive last quarter—end of story. The time may be fast, but considering the kind of miles trotted and paced at the New East Rutherford plant these days, it was far from otherworldly.

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Smedshammer thought he had Arch Madness in peak condition for the TVG Championship last November at the Meadowlands and put up Brian Sears to drive the horse in the $500,000 final. Sears elected to drive 7-5 second choice Mister Herbie instead and that left the trainer in the bike for the fourth-place finish behind Market Share.

Buoyed by a solid second to Market Share in the elimination, Smedshammer has again determined the 10-year-old’s chances will improve with a catch-driver. George Brennan has been summoned from his perch at Yonkers Raceway for the assignment and will be in the bike when the seventh race at the Meadowlands goes to post. It will be the first time Brennan has driven Arch Madness, but the former Big M driving champion has handled many horses for this trainer over the years.

“Usually it takes him a few more starts to get this sharp,” said Smedshammer of Arch Madness. “It’s a tough race, but the horse is coming into it in great form.”

The trainer is not surprised by the attention afforded the horses from the inside, but it hasn’t diminished his belief in his own horse. “He’s beaten these horses before,” said Smedshammer.

As far as having the ability to trot a mile in 1:50 or better, it’s something he believes will happen at some point and that Arch Madness has the talent to be the one to get it done. The horse has already won twice in 1:50 2/5 over mile tracks during his brilliant career.

Smedshammer said he was not surprised with the effort of Sebastian K in the Cutler elimination. “(Ake) Svandstedt does a great job of getting horses prepared off a layoff. He won the 2009 Elitlopp with Torvald Palema and that horse hadn’t raced in 45 days,” said Smedshammer.

While the trainer has respect for the Sebastian K team, he believes that the eight-year-old can be suspect if he’s stressed in the mile. “He’s had problems in Europe when he’s been used too hard early,” said Smedshammer.

Intimidate has taken on this type of competition and been successful before and there’s no reason to believe he won’t have an opportunity on Saturday. Making just his second start of the year, he was a solid closing third in the Sebastian K elimination heat and should only improve off that effort. A winner seven times last year, his most impressive effort came in the Credit Winner at Vernon Downs, a 1:51 score. Intimidate landed post five.

And Modern Family, though saddled with post nine, has been as sharp as any in this group all season long. His speed and stalking power make him a prime candidate.

Another potential speed horse is Sevruga. The Julie Miller-trained six-year-old was 16 times first or second in 22 starts last year including a memorable 1:50 4/5 victory in the John Cashman Memorial at the Meadowlands. Ron Pierce subs for a recovering Andy Miller in the sulky.

So there may be more than two “Titans” battling for supremacy in the Cutler Memorial and that could make it the most interesting race of the year.

Post Horse Driver Morning Line
1 Sebastian K S Ake Svanstedt 9-5
2 Market Share Tim Tetrick 8-5
3 Sevruga Ron Pierce 8-1
4 Archangel Yannick Gingras 15-1
5 Intimidate Vincent Ginsburg 10-1
6 Undercover Strike Corey Callahan 30-1
7 Arch Madness George Brennan 8-1
8 Possessed Fashion John Campbell 50-1
9 Modern Family David Miller 6-1
10 DW's NY Yank Mike Lachance 30-1

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