East Rutherford, NJ — McWicked completely dominated his foes for a third straight stakes start, and in the process, likely wrapped up Horse of the Year honors Saturday night (Nov. 24) at the Meadowlands after taking the $350,000 TVG Open Pace by two lengths over Dealt A Winner in 1:48 over a sloppy track. Filibuster Hanover was third.
“He was absolutely awesome,” said winning trainer Casie Coleman. “He’s been awesome all season long. I was a little worried when Filibuster got to the front and nobody was coming, I thought we might go a little bit slow fractions up front, but he kept rolling along and it set up great.”
She needn’t have been concerned.
Sent to the gate as the 1-9 public choice with the heavy rains from earlier in the evening having diminished to a steady drizzle, McWicked, who was an easy winner in the Dan Rooney on Oct. 13 before following that up with a crushing Breeders Crown score two weeks later, was away in third as Filibuster Hanover reached the quarter in :27 and the half in :54.2.
Driver Brian Sears activated McWicked, a 7-year-old son of McArdle-Western Sahara, with about three-eighths of a mile to go, moving quickly after the leader, and was just a length to the bad at three-quarters in 1:21.2.
McWicked then powerfully, methodically wore down Filibuster Hanover and went on to an easy victory, his 12th in 19 starts this year. His earnings for 2018 stand at $1,575,364, while his lifetime bank account is a gaudy $3,896,876. He’s won 34 of 93 starts over his career.
As the heavy favorite, McWicked returned $2.20 to his backers. He is owned by the S S G Stables.
Coleman explained after McWicked’s win in a Big M overnight event last week that the horse will return for his 8-year-old season.
“We’ve had a lot of offers to go to stud, but his owner, Ed James, is loving this and he said McWicked is racing next year,” Coleman said.
Will McWicked be chosen as Horse of the Year?
“I sure hope so,” said Coleman. “We’ll see what the voters think, so hopefully.”
“He’s really, really special. I’m so proud of this horse,” said winning trainer Jimmy Takter. “I can’t praise a horse more than I praise this guy. He’s one of a kind.”
Strong words. But deserving ones.
Six Pack, the 8-5 second choice, was away third in the early going before driver Ake Svanstedt brushed the Yonkers Trot and Kentucky Futurity winner to the top at the three-eighths. Sears was patient with 7-5 public choice Tactical Landing, moving the son of Muscle Hill-Southwind Serena off the rail from fifth at the half.
Tactical Landing chipped away at Six Pack’s lead until the duo were on even terms at three-quarters. They went at it nose-to-nose from there until Tactical Landing powered clear inside the eighth pole, going on to a 2½-length score in 1:51.4. Will Take Charge finished third.
“In the beginning, he was a real project,” said Takter of Tactical Landing, an $800,000 Lexington Select Sale purchase who earned only $1,500 as a 2-year-old. “He did not have confidence in himself.”
That would come when Tactical Landing, who paid $4.80 to win, moved into Takter’s barn at the start of this year, one during which his prized pupil has won nine-of-14 starts and bankrolled $810,800 for owners The Tactical Landing Stable.
Alluding to his impending retirement at the end of the year, Takter wasn’t sure what lies ahead for the horse.
“It’s something we have to decide,” Takter said. “I’m going to be out of the picture for most of it. I don’t know.”
A LITTLE MORE: One astute player betting at Pompano (Fla.) Park was the lone winner of the 20-Cent Survivor Pick-10 and took home $15,488 for surviving nine legs. … The great Foiled Again finished fourth in his Meadowlands finale. … All-source handle on the 13-race card was a meet-high $2,764,913. … Racing resumes Friday at 7:15 p.m.