Heart Horse

Every person associated with Sevruga falls in love

Standardbreds are consistently showing their versatility, whether it’s for riding or driving, for show or pleasure. Hoof Beats is happy to share stories from readers about their favorite retired Standardbreds. This month, Kimberly French writes about former racing trotter Sevruga, who now enjoys trail riding with his owner, Sabine Springs.

Whoever was responsible for naming Sevruga could not have done a better job. Caviar is a delicacy and the world champion continues to exhibit why he is so exquisite on and off the track.

It’s no surprise Sevruga has been loved so deeply. The 12-year-old son of SJ’s Caviar – Stunning Lindsey was initially named Stunned and was purchased for $18,000 at the 2009 Standardbred Horse Sale. He was the only one of four foals by his dam to earn more than $3,000. In fact, the gelding collected more than $1.21 million during his career and won the 2013 Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final and that year’s edition of the John Cashman Jr. Memorial final.

Sevruga defeated 2012 Hambletonian winner Market Share, 2010 Kentucky Futurity victor Wishing Stone, and the richest Canadian-sired horse of all time in Arch Madness that season.

“We were so tickled to death when he won those two stakes, especially after all the Opens he had been in,” said Julie Miller, who campaigned him for the majority of his career. “And he proved he could go anywhere as he had won at Pocono, Chester, and Yonkers. We were so happy for him that he was able to accomplish that.”

Not bad for a horse who struggled early in his career with health issues, but patience paid off. After failing to cash a check in the 2013 Breeders Crown and Allerage Trot at the end of his campaign, it was discovered the horse had a piece of bone jutting off the side of an ankle, and after Dr. Patty Hogan removed the chip, Sevruga showed up for his 6-year-old campaign as good as new.

He captured his first two starts, was second in the third, then third in the Arthur J. Cutler Memorial final and second in the Maxie Lee that season and was retired after 2017 when he failed to hit the board in 10 trips to the post.

After having the first stall in the Millers’ barn and having all his handlers adore him throughout his career, Sevruga continued to keep everyone’s eyes on him. He caught the attention of Sabine Spring, the assistant paddock judge at Harrah’s Philadelphia, due to his relaxed demeanor and excellent attitude during his racing career.

When Spring, who is originally from Germany, received the call from owner Joe Pennacchio in October 2017 that he would ship the horse to Pennsylvania for her, she was overjoyed.

“I was tickled pink,” she said. “I left him alone for three months.”

Spring had no lofty expectations for Sevruga and simply wanted to provide him the time he required to adjust to his new life.

Aspiring to be a therapeutic riding instructor, Spring fell in love with Standardbreds when she first interacted with the breed in her native country at age 12. It is well-known in the industry that she takes Standardbreds when their careers have concluded and trains them for other disciplines, such as showing or endurance riding.

Sevruga did not demonstrate he would become a blue ribbon show horse, but he is the apple of Spring’s eye.

“We go out and trail ride,” she said. “We ride through the woods. Sometimes we load up and go to different state parks. We go swimming in the lake in the summer and he loves going to the beach. I don’t do anything competitive with him but would love to do competitive trail riding. With racing on the weekend, it’s hard.”

Sevruga, however, has been a representative of the disposition, fortitude, and determination Standardbreds offer. He was present at last year’s Horse World Expo show at the Pennsylvania Farm Complex in Harrisburg, as well as this year’s edition.

The event offers demonstrations and clinics on how to retrain horses to ride or compete once their racing days end.

“He is just a really laid-back horse,” Spring said. “He absolutely doesn’t do anything wrong. Every horse has their quirks, but not him. I have a chiropractic and acupuncture professional come out to work on him and even she said his attitude is unbelievable. He had so much tension, but you wouldn’t even be able to tell [anything is bothering him] because he’s just so relaxed.

“Apples and carrots are his favorites. He is the perfect horse, honestly. Anybody who ever took care of him loves him.”

Miller concurs with Spring’s assessment.

“Kids ride him now,” she said. “And Sabine sends me pictures of him constantly. It’s nice to have a feel-good story. When you are a trainer, it’s a job, but there are some horses you really fall in love with and he is it.”

To comment on this story, email us at readerforum@ustrotting.com.

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