by Ken Weingartner, USTA Media Relations Manager
Hightstown, NJ — Only once in history has a horse won a second Breeders Crown trophy four years after winning his first. Two horses, though, could accomplish the feat Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Seven-year-old pacer McWicked and 6-year-old trotter Pinkman will try to join Wesgate Crown as the only multiple Breeders Crown champions with a gap of more than three years between their first and second titles. Wesgate Crown, a trotter enshrined in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, won at age 2 in 1993 and again at age 6 in 1997.
McWicked, who won his Breeders Crown at age 3 in 2014, will start Saturday’s $430,000 Open Pace from post three in a field of eight.
Pinkman, who also won his Breeders Crown in 2014, will start the $500,000 Open Trot from post one in a field of nine. Pinkman finished second in his elimination, which was won by Guardian Angel AS.
McWicked is the sport’s top money-earner this season with $1.17 million in purses. He has won nine of 16 races for trainer Casie Coleman and owner Ed James’ S S G Stables. He enters the Open Pace off wins in the Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers on Oct. 13 and the Allerage Farms Open at Red Mile on Oct. 6. He paced in 1:46.2, the second-fastest race mile in history, to defeat Lazarus N by three-quarters of a length in the Allerage.
Other wins for McWicked this year include the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30 at Pocono, the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 14 at the Meadowlands, and the Canadian Pacing Derby on Sept. 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
McWicked was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries. He has won $1.73 million since then, pushing his career earnings to $3.50 million. A son of McArdle out of Western Sahara, he has won 31 of 90 lifetime starts.
With a victory Saturday, McWicked would join 2012 champion Bettor Sweet and 2013 champion Foiled Again as the only Open Pace winners older than age 6.
“I don’t know what there is to be said; everybody that’s watched him race knows what he is,” Coleman said. “I couldn’t be any happier with the horse. He’s never thrown in a clunker. Every time he goes behind the gate he gives me everything he’s got. Even when he’s had a few bad posts and a few bad trips he does all he can do.
“You wouldn’t know he’s 7 years old, that’s for sure.”
Pinkman, trained by Jimmy Takter, was Trotter of the Year at age 3 in 2015 when his wins included the Hambletonian. He, like McWicked, has suffered from chronic throat and breathing issues requiring multiple surgeries. He has won only twice since turning age 4, but earned $241,312 during that time. One of his victories came in a Group 2 event in Sweden.
For his career, the son of Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster has won 19 of 53 career races and earned $2.70 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.
“He’s been racing really good, he just hasn’t had luck with post positions,” Takter said. “Mentally, it gets hard on a horse. He just needs to get his confidence up a little there. I was really proud of his performance (in his elimination). The track was maybe a little hard for him. He races so much better barefoot and the track was a little tough for him. He might be a little bit better on Saturday.
“You don’t make $2.7 million if you’re average,” he added. “He’s a warrior.”
Following are the fields in post position order for the $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace and $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot.
$430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace
1-Filibuster Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4/1
2-Lazarus N-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-3/1
3-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-5/2
4-Western Fame-Brett Miller-Jimmy Takter-6/1
5-Rockin Ron-Chris Page-Ron Burke-12/1
6-Donttellmeagain-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-9/2
7-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-10/1
8-Dealt A Winner-David Miller-Mark Silva-15/1
$500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot
1-Pinkman-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-10/1
2-Dunbar Hall-Jody Jamieson-Stephanie Jamieson-20/1
3-Guardian Angel AS-Matt Kakaley-Anette Lorentzon-5/1
4-Top Flight Angel-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-6/1
5-Homicide Hunter-Brian Sears-Chris Oakes-3/1
6-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-5/2
7-Warrawee Roo-Dan Dube-Luc Blais-12/1
8-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-15/1
9-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-4/1
- Post positions drawn for Breeders Crown Open Pace, Open Trot (Tuesday, October 23, 2018)
McWicked, harness racing’s richest horse this year, drew post No. 3 for Saturday’s $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite while Cruzado Dela Noche drew post No. 6 for Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot and was also tabbed as the 5-2 morning-line choice. Draws for the Open Pace and Open Trot were conducted Tuesday at Wisecrackers at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The draws for the remaining 10 championship events were held last weekend following the eliminations. USTA/Mark Hall photo.