“We had to take a bone chip out of a hind ankle. Dr. Patty Hogan did the surgery and we pretty much followed the textbook bringing him back."
Sevruga made a statement last year that he could compete with harness racing’s best older trotters. Trainer Julie Miller hopes Katie Said can announce herself in similar fashion when she takes on stakes-calibre three-year-old filly pacers later this season.
Katie Said, who was limited to two starts last year, and Sevruga were among four winners for Miller at last Friday’s qualifiers at the Meadowlands. The others were six-year-old trotter Bambino Hall and three-year-old pacer The Lunch Pail as Team Miller -- Julie and her husband, driver Andy -- went 4-for-4 on the day.
It was the six-year-old Sevruga’s second qualifier of the season, a winning effort in 1:54.2 as he comes back from bone chip surgery that forced him to miss the end of last year. Sevruga won nine of 22 races and earned $484,575 in 2013 for owner KDM Stables.
His wins included the John Cashman Jr. Memorial and Arthur J. Cutler Memorial, both at the Meadowlands, and he finished worse than third only once in his first 19 starts. He was off the board in his last three races and missed the final of the TVG Free For All Series after ending the preliminary rounds as the points leader.
"He’s had two nice qualifiers. We’re going to qualify him back again because the level he has to race at, with the top horses in the country, I’d like to have one more tightener for him. But so far he’s done everything we’ve asked of him.”
Sevruga, who finished fifth in purses among all older trotters in North America last year, is staked to a similar schedule in 2014.
“He’s got all the big races,” Miller said. “If you can get a piece of those, you’re doing good. It’s a tough division, but (Meadowlands Chairman Jeff Gural) putting together those nice races for the older horses to keep them on the track, it’s been great to see that competition.”
Katie Said, a daughter of stallion Well Said, is a half-sister to Kikikatie, the 2003 Dan Patch Award winner for best two-year-old filly pacer, and stakes-winner Just Wait Kate. Katie Said’s mother, Katies Lucky Lady, is a full sister to millionaire Camluck.
Purchased as a yearling for $67,000 at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale, Katie Said is owned by the Andy Miller Stable and Black Horse Racing. She won her first start last year in 1:55.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia in early October, but in her second race made a violent break while challenging for the lead and went to her knees.
“She grabbed a shoe,” Miller said. “She just had some scrapes and scratches, but instead of going on with her, we turned her out and did the right thing by her. It’s working out.”
Katie Said won her qualifier last week in 1:55.2. She is eligible to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit as well as a number of stakes including the Lynch Memorial, Adioo Volo, Shady Daisy, Reynolds and Tompkins-Geers.
“Andy said she was vicious in her qualifier, just under wraps,” Miller said. “As a two-year-old, she was a late-comer. She had some maturity issues, not physically, but mentally. She’s got a nice three-year-old (stakes) season for this summer. She’s been a pleasant surprise. Hopefully she’ll be a nice racehorse for us this year. We’re really looking forward to her.”
The Lunch Pail was another late bloomer, after getting an attitude adjustment. The now gelded son of Yankee Cruiser-Noble Marty, won a division of the Historic-Goshen Cup in 1:51.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia and finished second in divisions of the Reynolds and Pennsylvania Sire Stakes after a slow start to his career.
“He was a little bit of a project for us,” Miller said. “He grabbed a shoe one time at The Meadows and got jammed up another time and was making some breaks. In the stall, he was a nipper and biter and kind of would buck around and kick. We decided to geld him and keep his mind on his business.
“As soon as we did that, he had a dazzling performance in (1):51.3 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. It’s amazing what they can accomplish when they keep their mind on their business.”
The Lunch Pail, who was purchased as a yearling for $44,000 under the name Bud Bay at the 2012 Lexington Selected Sale, is a full brother to stakes-winner Marty Party. The Lunch Pail was owned by the Millers, but three days after his 1:52.4 qualifier win was sold to Michael Ouriel, who also owns Marty Party.
He is eligible to the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes as well as events such as the Hempt Memorial, Adios, Reynolds and Historic. He also could go to the Bobby Weiss Series, which begins Saturday at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
“He’s a nice bred horse,” Miller said. “He’s got pedigree, he’s got the conformation, and now he’s got a great attitude too.”
This story courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, visit www.ustrotting.com.