By Ken Weingartner, USTA Media — Mother Nature provided the heat. Ecurie D DK added the sizzle.
On an unseasonably warm, 86-degree night, Ecurie D DK made his seasonal debut a memorable one by scorching the one-mile oval at The Meadowlands in a world record 1:49.1 to win Saturday’s $170,450 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial for older trotters by 1-1/2 lengths over Cuatro De Julio. Bella Bellini finished third.
The time was the fastest May trotting mile in harness racing history, besting the 1:50 clocking by Katie’s Lucky Day at The Meadowlands last week, and set the world record for an older trotting stallion on a one-mile track. It also equaled The Meadowlands track record established by mare Atlanta in 2020.
Ecurie D DK, a 6-year-old driven by trainer Åke Svanstedt, was fourth through the first half of the Cutler Memorial as Lovedbythemasses led the field to the opening quarter in :26.3 before Cuatro De Julio took control and got to the half in :54.
Cuatro De Julio was still on top at three-quarters, reached in 1:22.1, but Ecurie D DK was already up to second on his outside and ready to sprint home when they reached the stretch.
By winning his first start of the year, Ecurie D DK improved to 3-for-3 in the U.S. since his arrival from Europe. He entered the Cutler off one qualifier, a 1:54.2 win May 6 at The Meadowlands.
“Those aged horses, they are not like the young horses that might need a couple of races, at least our horses, so I had confidence,” said Åke Svanstedt’s wife, Sarah, who helps run the training stable. “Me and Åke said he could be at least around 1:50 today, but (1):49.1 was very impressive. I’m very proud.”
Ecurie D DK’s victories last season included the Breeders Crown Open Trot. An established star in Europe prior to coming to the States, the son of Infinitif-To Soon has won 18 of 24 career starts and has earned $868,593.
“When you see him, at home too, he is always a happy horse,” Sarah Svanstedt said. “But when he comes here (to the track), his energy goes to race mode and he loves to go out on the track. He’s not a grabby, aggressive horse, but he knows his race day and he loves to go to work. I love those horses that know before a race that, ‘Today is the day; I’m going to fight.’”
Ecurie D DK, who was born in Denmark, is owned by Marko Kreivi Stables Inc., Suleyman Yuksel Stables Inc., and Åke Svanstedt Inc. He was bred by Jean Pierre DuBois.
Sarah Svanstedt said there was no set schedule at the moment for Ecurie D DK.
“We will take it step by step,” Svanstedt said. “The Breeders Crown is the main goal, and the International Trot would be nice to be part of too.”
Sent off as the 3-5 favorite, Ecurie D DK paid $3.40 to win.
The Cutler Memorial is named in memory of Arthur J. Cutler, the famed restaurateur and harness racing enthusiast who passed away at age 53 in 1997.
“I just can’t believe it’s been 25 years since we lost Artie,” Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural said. “I really miss him. For people who didn’t know him, he was a great guy. He loved the races, loved The Meadowlands. It was a big loss, but we’ve been able to honor his memory all these years.”