Day At The Track

McWicked, Shartin N ready for finales

07:39 AM 22 Nov 2018 NZDT
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Shartin N, harness racing McWicked, harness racing
Shartin N and driver Tim Tetrick
Mark Hall/USTA photo
McWicked and driver Brian Sears
Lisa Photo

Harness racing's top-ranked horses, No. 1 McWicked and No. 2 Shartin N, head to their respective TVG Series championships Saturday at The Meadowlands Racetrack looking to bolster their Horse of the Year credentials while closing out historic seasons.

The Meadowlands hosts four TVG Series finals Saturday, with events also for male and female trotters, and four stakes races for 2-year-olds - the Governor's Cup for colt and gelding pacers, Valley Victory for colt and gelding trotters, Three Diamonds for filly pacers, and Goldsmith Maid for filly trotters.

McWicked faces six foes in the $350,000 TVG Series final for male pacers. He starts from post one with Brian Sears driving for trainer Casie Coleman. Shartin N meets seven rivals in the $175,000 TVG Series final for female pacers. She also starts from post one, with Tim Tetrick at the lines for trainer Jim King Jr.

Shartin N, who has won 18 of 23 races this year, has already set the record for single-season earnings by an older female pacer, with $968,361, and is attempting to become the first pacing mare to reach $1 million. The New Zealand-bred 5-year-old is owned by Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King.

McWicked has won 11 of 18 races and earned $1.40 million in 2018. The 7-year-old stallion leads all horses in North America in purses and will be the first horse older than the age of 5 to finish atop the annual money standings since 7-year-old trotter Savoir in 1975. He is owned by Ed James' S S G Stables.

Last week, McWicked won the five-horse preferred handicap at The Meadowlands by 2-1/4 lengths over Filibuster Hanover in 1:47.3. He brings a four-race win streak to his TVG final.

"I couldn't be any happier," Coleman said. "He was off for three weeks and when we drew the five hole in a five-horse field I expected they would go slow fractions trying to get away on him late. When they hit the half in :53.4 I was pretty happy. I wasn't expecting that fast a mile out of him, but he did it real easy.

"He came out of it really good. He was feeling good the next day. Everything seems good. Hopefully we can have a little bit of luck with him on Saturday."

McWicked, who was a Dan Patch Award-winner at the age of 3, counts the Breeders Crown Open Pace, Ben Franklin Pace, William R. Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, Dan Rooney Invitational, and Allerage Open Pace among his wins this year. Two fourth-place finishes are his only off-the-board results in his 18 starts.

If he were named Horse of the Year, McWicked would be the oldest pacer to ever receive the honor.

"To think he was going to do what he did this year would be impossible," Coleman said. "I felt confident he would have a big season, but he's made almost $1.5 million and barely missed the top three. In the starts he got beat, he only got beat from the way the trip went. I've never seen anybody as consistent as he's been week in and week out.

"It's not like he has easy miles and he's been at the top of his game since the time he started the season. The horse is 7 years old and racing against the best of the best in the open (class) every week. It's fun every time he goes to the gate. As long as he's healthy and sound we're definitely planning to race him next year."

Shartin N prepped for her TVG final with a 1:52.2 win in a qualifier Nov. 14 at Dover Downs. She last raced Oct. 27, winning the Breeders Crown Mare Pace. She also brings a four-race win streak to her TVG event.

"She qualified really good the other day, very pleasing," King said. "She doesn't seem to mind the time between races. I think she's OK."

In addition to the Breeders Crown, Shartin N's victories this year include the Blue Chip Matchmaker Series championship, Roses Are Red, Lady Liberty, Artiscape, Betsy Ross Invitational, Chip Noble Memorial, and Allerage Farms Mare Pace.

If she were named Horse of the Year, Shartin N would be the first pacing mare to ever receive the honor.

"I think that's a pretty tall order; McWicked is so sharp right now," King said. "A few weeks ago, I thought it was going to be all about (3-year-old trotting filly) Atlanta, but people have short memories. It's really something just to be even considered, to be in the running. She's gone all year since the Matchmaker (beginning in March) and she hasn't missed yet where she didn't have an excuse or real good reason. Every time she didn't win, something went wrong.

"There are so few things through the year that didn't make me smile. It's just a thrill to be around one like her and to think you were a part of it. I'd really love to get over that million-dollar mark; that would be something. You never want to see a year like this end, but she's had quite a year. She's just a horse of a different color. She's pretty damn special."

For Saturday's complete Meadowlands entries, click here. First-race post time is 7:15 p.m. (EST).

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA

 

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