North America's leading money-winning 3-year-old pacer might not be a household harness racing name yet, particularly in the United States., but that could be about to change.
Michael's Power, who has dominated the Ontario circuit on his way to $1 million in purses (in U.S. dollars) thanks to wins in 11 of 13 starts this year, is the 2-1 favorite in Saturday's (September 8) C$252,521 Simcoe Stakes at Mohawk Racetrack.
Michael's Power will start from post eight in the 12-horse field, which includes multiple-stakes-winner A Rocknroll Dance, with Scott Zeron driving for trainer Casie Coleman.
Among the wins for Michael's Power are the $587,315 Confederation Cup final, where he beat Cane Pace winner Dynamic Youth and Cane Pace runner-up Pet Rock, and the $582,000 Upper Canada Cup. He also won a division of thein June by besting Dapper Dude, who last weekend won the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship.
"He's had a tremendous year," said Coleman, who trains Michael's Power for breeder/owner Jeff Snyder. "I've never seen a horse that won over a million dollars that has received almost zero press. It's been unbelievable, but we'll just keep collecting the purse checks and not worry about that. He's been just awesome all season."
Michael's Power won his first four races of the year before finishing sixth in his elimination for the North America Cup, failing to advance to the $1.47 million final. Michael's Power was second for much of the mile, but got trapped in the stretch behind fading early leader Mel Mara. He was beaten by 1-1/4 lengths by Dapper Dude and missed grabbing a spot in the final by three-quarters of a length.
"I don't think there is much question in anybody's mind that he was going to win and get to pick his post (for the final) if he gets out," Coleman said. "You don't know what's going to happen in the final, obviously, but he was much the best in that elim. It was just unfortunate, but he's gone on and won pretty much every start since then. We'll just look to keep going forward with him."
Michael's Power is a son of, out of the mare Michelle's Jackpot, who won the 1996 Three Diamonds Stakes. He is a full-brother to millionaire Michelle's Power and his second dam, Jef's Magic Trick, is the mother of 1994 Horse of the Year Cam's Card Shark. Michelle's Power holds a share of the Canadian record for pacing fillies on a five-eighths-mile track (1:51.1) and Michael's Power holds the mark for a gelding (1:50).
As a 2-year-old, Michael's Power won two of three starts. He was lightly raced, in part, because Coleman's Canadian-based stable endured a difficult winter in 2011.
"All my 2-year-olds were very lightly raced because we got ready so late," Coleman said. "Jeff didn't send him up to me until about the middle of December, so he started very late. He was a pretty bad actor, so we had to geld him and that cost us some more time."
Coleman admitted to being surprised by Michael's Power's ability to compete in open company, beyond his success against Ontario-sired rivals. But she is a believer now.
"He's just so tough," Coleman said. "He's wicked fast off the gate and then you can manage him and take ahold of him real easy. That's a big plus. No matter what the fractions are, he doesn't seem to give up. He's always digging right through the wire."
Following the Simcoe, Michael's Power's schedule is uncertain. The Little Brown Jug on September 20 is a possibility, but it conflicts with an Ontario Sire Stakes Gold final on September 22 at Mohawk. Michael's Power is 3-for-3 in Gold finals, which carry a purse of C$130,000.
"I hope we go because I want to win the Jug very badly and you've got to be in it to win it, but it's up to Jeff," Coleman said. "He's going to decide after this race.
"He wants to go to the Jug, but he's won the Jug twice already and this horse is a gelding and we want to race him as an aged horse. The double heats sometimes take a toll on them. And he's going to have to miss a Gold, where he's been the dead favorite and hasn't been beaten yet, if we go."
As for the Simcoe, it represents another challenge for Michael's Power. He enters the race off a win in a Gold final at Rideau Carleton, with his time of 1:50.2 being the fastest ever by a 3-year-old at the track.
"He's got the eight hole in a 12-horse race, so I don't like that as much, but the horse is sharp and healthy coming into the race," Coleman said. "Hopefully he should be just fine.
"It's one of the toughest races he's been in yet. Dapper Dude was awesome in his last start and (A Rocknroll Dance) has been very good every time he races. It's a tough, tough race, but my fella is right there. He's tough as nails and I've never seen him go a bad start hardly, so hopefully he keeps doing what he's doing."
Here is the field for the Simcoe Stakes in post position order with listed drivers and trainers:
1. Lifeimittatesart, Scott Young, Robert Young; 2. I Found My Beach, Randy Waples, Robert McIntosh; 3. Simply Business, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Takter; 4. Secretsoftheknight, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair; 5. Panther Hanover, Sylvain Filion, Friday Dean; 6. Rockin Finish, Dave Palone, McIntosh; 7. Speed Again, Jody Jamieson, Jeff Gillis; 8. Michael's Power, Scott Zeron, Casie Coleman; 9. Dapper Dude, John Campbell, McIntosh; 10. Mel Mara, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna; 11. I'm The Pied Piper, Andy Miller, Ron Burke; 12. A Rocknroll Dance, Yannick Gingras, Jim Mulinix.
Michael's Power winning the 2012 Confederation Cup Final: