Team McWicked (from left): presenter and Member of Parliament Lisa Raitt, owner Ed James, caretaker Jeff Kemp, driver David Miller and trainer Casie Coleman | Claus Andersen

McWicked final quarter leads to Gold Cup win

June 18, 2017

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Owner Ed James reunites the pacer with Casie Coleman and David Miller and cashes in.

story by Dave Little | quotes by Sandra Snyder

McWicked picked up an ideal second-over trip before exploding home in a sensational :25.3 to score a three-quarter-length win in the $100,000 Mohawk Gold Cup for invitational pacers Saturday night at Mohawk on North America Cup Night.

The 6-year-old son of McArdle—Western Sahara was in no hurry in the early going, sitting along the rail racing fifth as Nirvana Seelster, who led at the quarter in a spiffy :25.4, and Dr J Hanover battled to the quarter and just beyond, when Nirvana Seelster made a second move to the top at the three-eighths after briefly yielding the top.

Things appeared perfect for Dr J Hanover, the fastest horse in Canadian harness racing history by virtue of his 1:46.4 clocking two weeks ago. He was close to the action and did not have to cut the middle fractions, the same scenario as in his record-setting mile. “Well, he got stung pretty hard,” said Doug McNair, Dr J Hanover’s driver. “I figured there would be a few leavers, but I didn’t think we’d have to go that much. When you’re out past the three-eighths, depending on the type of horses they are, you’re pretty much screwed.”

In addition, Nirvana Seelster, sent off at odds of 11-1, kept rolling. The William Budd-trainee hit the half in :54.2 and three-quarters in 1:22 as the outer flow started to make its presence felt.

Dealt A Winner vacated the rail just before the half and provided cover for 7-5 public choice McWicked. The pair continued to inch closer to the leader as they hit the top of the stretch and the sprint was on. David Miller tipped McWicked off his cover and powered past his foes with swift and authoritative force racing down the center of the track. Nirvana Seelster, who established his lifetime-best of 1:48.1 in a Mohawk overnight last week, held second in determined fashion, while Great Vintage rallied to grab the show.

Dr J Hanover, the 3-1 second choice, wilted in the stretch and finished fifth. “Those are a little tougher horses than what he’s been racing,” said McNair. “Just a tough trip, that’s all.”

McWicked, the 2014 Breeders Crown and Adios champion, completed the mile in a lifetime-best 1:48.2 and returned $4.90 to his backers for trainer Casie Coleman and owners S S G Stables of North Boston, NY. Lifetime, McWicked now has 20 wins in 59 starts, good for earnings of just over $1.9 million.

“That’s correct, yes,” said S S G’s Ed James when asked about his horse’s connections. “The combination of Casie and Miller is all that horse needs.”

McWicked trained in Florida during the winter before experiencing some success at Yonkers in the Levy Series, although James wasn’t thrilled being there.

“I’m not a fan of the half-mile track,” said James. “So we brought him where Casie had him before. And David (Miller) loves the horse, so it’s the perfect combination. Casie understands the horse. Casie understands me and so it works out perfect. So I just have to sit back and pay the bills… and sometimes, I collect. This is my 63rd year in the business and I’m just trying to get even. I have (had some good horses), and mostly, what people don’t realize is that God is a good guy. He looks after drunks and dummies. I qualify twice. True story.”

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