by Ray Cotolo
Breeders Crown — Open Pace
Driver Brian Sears moved McWicked first over to challenge pacesetter Lazarus N heading to the half and downed the Kiwi sensation in progress to a three-and-one-quarter length victory in the $430,000 Breeders Crown open pace.
Sears engaged Lazaurs N in the backstretch and briefly matched strides before clearing command past three-quarters. Lazarus N faded at the rail into the final turn while McWcked kicked clear of Filibuster Hanover firing through the passing lane for second with Donttellmeagain closing from second over for third.
Lazarus N finished 19 lengths behind the leader in last of the eight.
“I didn’t know how much pace Yannick really had,” Sears said after the race. “Down the backside, it looked like maybe I could clear but I didn’t want to really engage too hard, but he just went on his own. The horse has just been a pleasure all year and so easy to drive. He does everything that you want.”
In their fifth matchup, Mcwicked, paying $3.80 to win, has now bested Lazarus N thrice—including in the Canadian Pacing Derby and the Allerage Farms Pace.
“Lazarus is a great horse and obviously he was sick or something tonight,” trainer Casie Coleman said. “Even the couple starts that he got beat by him, anybody that watched the races, like, Wicked didn’t have the best luck those nights but he was charging hard at the wire both times.”
McWicked, a winner of 32 races from 91 starts and over $3.7 million in earnings, took his second Breeders Crown after finishing second in the open pace last year at Hoosier Park. Also winning the three-year-old colt and gelding pace, McWicked gave Coleman her first win in the open pace and her fifth Breeders Crown.
“We’re lucky enough that we’ve had quite a few that went to stud and I never really get to race these older ones,” said Coleman, trainer of 2011 three-year-old colt pace winner Betterthancheddar, “so having him is pretty cool and to win the aged pace, that’s always one of the highlight races, so I’m very happy about that.”
Following a disappointing four-year-old season, McWicked left Coleman’s barn and entered Steve Elliot’s barn, where he raced until 2017 when Coleman reacquired her once star pacer then at age six.
“At three, this horse was awesome,” Coleman said. “He made $1.5 million and he won most everything that he was in. The only time I was disappointed with him was at the Jug, every other race I was very happy with this horse. At four, he just didn’t have it. He never won a race. He was in with aged horses and he didn’t have it and I ended up losing him. I didn’t have him for a little while, so I’m not sure what was going on then. I was asked to get him back and right from the first start that I got him back as a six-year-old, he won and kind of went on a tear.”
Mcwicked earned a half-million dollars through the season last year and has accrued over $1.3 million from racing as a seven-year-old with 10 wins from 17 starts.
“I think we’ll keep him for a little while,” Coleman said. “I hope he races again next year. He literally had four stud farms contact him, wanting to go to stud now. The owner (S S G Stables) himself hasn’t spoke to any of them. They all called me and he hasn’t called them back yet. I don’t own the horse, so I hope he races next year, but I don’t know yet.”
Ed James, owner of the S S G Stable, has received two stud offers from farms in Ontario and two other undisclosed proposals. Coleman’s former pupils Betterthancheddar and Sportswriter already stand in Ontario and if McWicked were to go to stud, Coleman would prefer he stand in her now home province of Ontario.
“Just everybody loves (Sportswriter) in Ontario and I love the program there,” Coleman said.
With Gimpanzee and Woodside Charm both keeping their unbeaten records when winning their Breeders Crown finals and Shartin N winning her 18th of 23 races this season, McWicked’s Breeders Crown win adds onto his case for horse of the year honors. 1
“I can’t see how he’s not a serious contender,” Coleman said. “I would be shocked if he’s not, but that’s not up to me that’s up to the voters and hopefully they see what we see, what he’s doing on the track week in and week out at seven-years-old and hopefully consider him.”
McWicked will have a chance to solidify his shot as a horse-of-the-year candidate in the TVG final at the Meadowlands on Nov. 24. He’ll then get turned out in Lexington, KY and will either prepare for an eight-year-old campaign or a stallion career.