Now Coleman has what she thinks are two top 3-year-olds as the Pacing Triple Crown season gets underway with Monday's $360,211 Cane Pace at Tioga Downs in upstate New York. Coleman's Lucan Hanover and stakes-winner Vegas Vacation face millionaire Captaintreacherous and five other foes in the Cane.
Lucan Hanover had won three of his first 10 career races before Coleman put him in the Summertime Pacing Series at Mohawk Racetrack. He swept two preliminary legs and the final as a precursor to his lifetime-best 1:48.3 win from post eight in the .
"As a 2-year-old and starting out as a 3-year-old, Lucan was who I thought was going to be my best 3-year-old colt," Coleman said. "I was always extremely high on this colt and he just never really put it out there on the track. He just wasn't doing what I thought he had in him.
"He was racing no good early in the season at the Meadowlands so I brought him back to Toronto and put him in against cheaper horses than what he'd been facing and he got a few wins under his belt. Once he got to beat up on them a little bit and win a few races, he really got his confidence up. I thought he was going to put in a real big effort on Hambo Day and that's exactly what he did. I was real happy with him."
Prior to his four-race win streak, Lucan Hanover also suffered from splints, a situation Coleman was able to rectify during a brief layoff prior to the Summertime Pacing Series.
"He was running out really bad going into the first turn at the Meadowlands," Coleman said. "He had a couple outside splints, which are very uncommon, that were really bothering him. They were real close to his knees so I couldn't do much vet work until we had a break in his schedule. Now he's steering straight."
Lucan Hanover is a son of stallion out of the mare Lauren Order and a half-brother to stakes-winner Lawgiver Hanover. He was purchased for $47,000 at the Standardbred Horse Sale and is owned by West Wins Stable and Christine Calhoun.
"He's still got some good stakes races the second half of the season," Coleman said. "I think they're definitely going to know who he is. Since his 2-year-old season I thought he was going to be a top player and he kept making me look stupid talking about him being a good horse. Hopefully he's going to turn it around now."
Lucan Hanover will start the from a tough spot, post eight, while stablemate Vegas Vacation begins from post four as he looks to turn the tables on multiple-stakes-winner Captaintreacherous. Vegas Vacation was second by a neck to Captaintreacherous in both his elimination and the final of the in June at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
"He's always right there knocking on the door," Coleman said. "Vegas tries every single race; he gives it all he's got. It would be nice to get the better of (Captaintreacherous) sometime here, but Captain is a great horse. I've always believed in Vegas and I really believe if we get the right trip and the upper hand on Captain that we can beat him. Captain is a great horse, but I think that I have a great horse.
"I know the winner gets all the credit, but if anybody goes back and watches the replays of some of the trips Vegas Vacation went, he was phenomenal in each of those races also."
Vegas Vacation, a son of -Don't You Smile, enters the Cane Pace off a 1:48.3 win in the $257,250 Empire Breeders Classic on Aug. 11 at Tioga Downs. The time equaled the fastest mile ever by a 3-year-old gelding pacer on a five-eighths-mile track.
Coleman hoped the Cane Pace would have eliminations last week, but when only eight horses entered the race elims were unnecessary. So she qualified Lucan Hanover in 1:53 on Aug. 27 at Harrah's Philadelphia and trained Vegas Vacation in New Jersey.
"I thought for sure there would be elims and that kind of stinks for me because Vegas has been off for three weeks and Lucan for four weeks," Coleman said. "But there's nothing we can do about that. With Vegas, I trained him up good. I'm not a person that usually trains overly fast miles, but I did train him in (1):54.4 on Tuesday. He came the back half in :54 and home in :27 and he was very strong doing it.
"It's still not a real race, so being short scares me a little bit, but he's been healthy and sound and feeling great. He looks awesome. The time off definitely did him good and he's got a busy schedule coming up in the next few weeks. Both horses are feeling sharp and are ripping the barn apart. I couldn't be any happier with the way both of them seem coming into the race. I just wish I had a race under the belts. Hopefully we've got everything under control."
will drive Vegas Vacation and will handle Lucan Hanover in the Cane Pace. The entry is the 5-2 second choice behind the -trained entry of Captaintreacherous and Wake Up Peter, which is at 8-5 on the morning line. Estimated post time is 4:30 p.m. Monday for the Cane Pace.
Captaintreacherous is coming into the Cane Pace after suffering his first loss in seven starts this year. He was beaten by a nose by Sunshine Beach in a world-record-equaling 1:47.4 mile in the Battle of the Brandywine on Aug. 17 at Pocono Downs. The colt's wins this year include the North America Cup and Meadowlands Pace, in addition to the Hempt Memorial.
"That race (the Battle of the Brandywine), Sunshine Beach raced tremendous and so did Captain," Coleman said. "He dug right through the wire. That was a really good race; both those horses were digging real hard for the wire. You can't take anything away from each of them. Captain is an amazing horse, for sure."
Following is the Cane Pace field in post position order with drivers, trainers and morning line:
1. Someplace Special,, (12-1);
2. Captaintreacherous,, Tony Algana (8-5);
3. Wake Up Peter,, Alagna (8-5);
4. Vegas Vacation,, (5-2);
5. Word Power,, (10-1);
6. Twilight Bonfire,, (3-1);
7. Varadero Hanover,, (5-1);
8. Lucan Hanover,
For a Cane Pace preview from "Eye on Harness Racing,"
Harness Racing Communications