Hightstown, NJ — McWicked’s accomplishments have already put him in rarefied air, and the 8-year-old pacing stallion has a chance this weekend to add to his achievements.
On Saturday, McWicked competes in the $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace at Woodbine Mohawk Park, where he is the 5-2 morning-line favorite. With a victory, he would join Jenna’s Beach Boy as the only male pacers with three Breeders Crown trophies.
The only other horses with three Crowns are female pacers Eternal Camnation and My Little Dragon as well as male trotter Mack Lobell and female trotter Grades Singing. Female trotter Peace Corps holds the record with four.
In addition, McWicked is on the verge of surpassing $1 million in purses for a third time in his career. The only pacer with three million-dollar seasons is Foiled Again. McWicked will enter Saturday with C$990,198 (US$981,466). For his career, McWicked has earned C$5.03 million (US$4.87 million) and is second to only gelding Foiled Again among all pacers in history.
Last year at age 7, McWicked became the oldest pacer in history to receive Horse of the Year honors from the U.S. Harness Writers Association. He led the sport in earnings, with $1.57 million, and became the oldest horse in 43 years to top the money standings. He also broke Foiled Again’s earnings record for a 7-year-old, which was $1.40 million in 2011. Foiled Again holds the record for an 8-year-old with $1.20 million.
“He’s an amazing horse, no doubt,” said Casie Coleman, who trains McWicked for Ed James’ S S G Stables. “There are not too many horses that have done what he’s done, and to keep doing it at his age. You really wouldn’t know this horse is 8 years old.
“And he’s got a lot of big, tough miles under his belt; it’s not too often he has an easy race. Every time he goes behind the gate, they’re pacing (1):47, (1):48, (1):49. He’s definitely an unbelievable horse.”
McWicked won his first Breeders Crown at the age of 3 in 2014. When he won his second in 2018, he became the first pacer to ever win Crowns separated by four years. He will try Saturday to become the first repeat Open Pace winner since Always B Miki in 2015 and 2016.
He starts Saturday from post eight with regular driver Brian Sears. Jimmy Freight is the 4-1 second choice.
“Everything has been great,” Coleman said about the horse’s preparation for the race. “I trained him (Tuesday) and he was awesome. He’s sharp, sound, healthy. I’m very happy with how he is coming in.
“I obviously would have liked a little bit better (post) but it’s better than the nine and it’s better than the 10. The way this horse has been racing, I’m not too concerned about it. Everybody wants to draw the inside more but it’s a big track and the eight-hole at Mohawk really isn’t terrible.”
McWicked, who has battled throat and foot issues throughout his career, has won 40 of 108 races lifetime. He has won six of 15 this year, hitting the board a dozen times, and enters the Breeders Crown final with back-to-back victories in the Dan Rooney Invitational and Allerage Farms Open Pace.
McWicked is one of three horses attempting to win a third Breeders Crown. The others are trotting mares Hannelore Hanover and Emoticon Hanover.
Hannelore Hanover, from the stable of trainer Ron Burke, won her first Crown in 2016 in the Mare Trot. She came back the following year and won the Open Trot, becoming the first mare to knock off the boys since Moni Maker in 1998. Emoticon Hanover, a Luc Blais trainee, has won the past two editions of the Mare Trot. She was the first to accomplish that feat since Buck I St Pat in 2009-2010.
Manchego, the fastest female trotter in history, is the 7-5 morning-line favorite in the $325,000 Mare Trot. The Nancy Johansson-trained Manchego is a past Breeders Crown champion, having won the 2-year-old filly division in 2017.
Johansson’s Captain Crunch was a Crown winner in 2018 in the 2-year-old colt-and-gelding pace. He is the 5-2 second choice behind 9-5 Bettor’s Wish in the $600,000 event for 3-year-old male pacers. The most recent male pacer to win a Crown at both 2 and 3 was Artiscape in 1997-1998.
Burke trained three past champions in addition to Hannelore Hanover that are in action this weekend: Warrawee Ubeaut, Youaremycandygirl, and Dorsoduro Hanover.
Warrawee Ubeaut won last year’s 2-year-old filly pace and is the 4-5 favorite in the $550,000 3-year-old filly pace. The most recent filly pacer to win at Crown at both 2 and 3 was My Little Dragon in 2005-2006.
Dorsoduro Hanover won last year’s 3-year-old colt-and-gelding pace and is 6-1 in the $500,000 Open Pace. The most recent male pacer to win a Crown at ages 3 and 4 was Art Major in 2002-2003.
Youaremycandygirl was a Breeders Crown champion at age 2 in 2017. Now trained by Richard Moreau, she is 6-1 in the $300,000 Mare Pace, where returning champion Shartin N is the 4-5 chalk. Shartin N, trained by Jim King Jr. and ranked No. 1 in the sport’s Top 10 poll, is looking to be the first repeat winner since Shelliscape in 2013-2014.
Marcus Melander-trained Gimpanzee is back after winning last year’s 2-year-old colt-and-gelding trot. He is 8-1 in the $500,000 race for 3-year-old male trotters, where stablemate Greenshoe is the 3-5 favorite.
There is one other past champion competing this weekend, Fiftydallarbill, who claimed his title in the 2-year-old colt-and-gelding trot in 2017. He is in the $500,000 Open Trot. Lindy The Great is the 3-1 favorite, followed by Guardian Angel AS at 7-2 and French star Bold Eagle at 4-1.
Breeders Crown finals for 2-year-olds are Friday at Mohawk. The finals for 3-year-olds and older horses are Saturday. Racing begins at 7 p.m. (EDT) both nights. The Libfeld-Katz Breeding Partnership is the presenting sponsor of this year’s Breeders Crown.