Day At The Track

McWicked powerful in capturing Ben Franklin

02:16 PM 01 Jul 2018 NZST
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McWicked McWicked, harness racing
McWicked and driver Brian Sears win the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace in 1:49.3
Curtis Salonick Photo
McWicked and driver Brian Sears win the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace in 1:49.3.
Raymond K. Lance photo

Wilkes-Barre, PA --- McWicked, perfectly-placed second-over, swung three-wide late on the far turn and had an overwhelming late kick to come up a 1:49.3 winner while taking the $500,000 Ben Franklin Pace final on Saturday (June 30) at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.

The Ron Burke-trained threesome of Filibuster Hanover, Rockin Ron, and All Bets Off got away 1-2-3 by the :26.2 first panel, with McWicked fourth early. As the outer tier formed early, it looked like McWicked and driver Brian Sears might have to come first-over, but past the three-eighths All Bets Off pulled from third, giving cover which helped McWicked's chances.

The middle splits were pedestrian, :55 and 1:22.2, with All Bets Off continuing his grind against pacesetting Filibuster Hanover, and McWicked readying to mount a wide charge.

That charge commenced near the top of the stretch, and when McWicked started his kick, the only thing in doubt was the winning margin, which was 1-1/2 lengths over Rockin Ron, who parlayed prime pocket position for place; 99-1 Mac's Jackpot also used an inside trip to get a high finish, coming home third, just nipped for second.

"It was good that I had sort of a 'slow second-over' trip, going up towards the front," Sears noted post-race, confident in the stretch strength of his son of McArdle-Western Sahara, who also won the 2014 Hempt, in a stakes record of 1:47.3 which still stands.

In a career of continuing stardom, McWicked, now seven, boosted his earnings to $2,646,362 in only 80 career starts. The Franklin champion is owned by the S S G Stables of North Boston, N.Y., and was the only favorite in the night's four major races.

Split The House, the 2017 Breeders Crown winner among the older pacers, was given a canny drive by Brian Sears to take the $75,000 Franklin Pace Consolation in 1:49. Sears stayed third-in at the half after Boogie Shuffle had taken the field to the quarter in :26.4 and favored Mach It So moved to the lead and passed the half in :55.

Dealt A Winner pulled uncovered and heatedly battled the winner to the 1:21.1 three-quarters; when the second-over couldn't keep up, Sears slipped out then went wide on the far turn and tracked down 55-1 shot Boogie Shuffle, who got the lead midstretch in the Pocono Pike, by a half-length.

Spilt The House is a Rocknroll Hanover gelding trained by Chris Oakes for Crawford Farms Racing. He boosted his lifetime bankroll to $643,833 while victorious in only his second start of the campaign.

From the PHHA/Pocono Downs

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