ELORA, ON — Casie Coleman is just 33, but she has already been voted Canada’s harness racing trainer of the year five times and won many of the sport’s biggest races. Yet, the Cambridge, ON resident says she nearly walked away from the game at the height of her career.
Despite all her success, her stable was too big, her health was suffering and she says she was absolutely miserable.
“There were times I would say ‘I’ve had enough, I want to get out. I don’t like it.’ I didn’t like going to the barn,” she said July 15, a day before she swept all three $70,000 Ontario Sires Stakes (OSS) Gold events at Grand River Raceway for two-year-old pacing colts — all three sons of her former stakes star Sportswriter driven to victory by Chris Christoforou.
On July 18, at Grand River, Coleman will try to repeat the hat trick when she sends out a trio of Sportswriter fillies to compete in OSS Gold events the same night the track celebrates the 40thanniversary of the sires stakes program.
Saturday, her world champion McWicked will race in eliminations for the $600,000 Adios at The Meadows near Pittsburgh. In June, McWicked set a 1:47.3 world record on a five-eighths mile track when he won the $500,000 Max Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
Regardless of what happens on the track, Coleman says her biggest victory came this winter when she lost 57 pounds and worked herself into peak shape in Florida as part of a number of major life changes.
“I hired a personal trainer. I worked with him all winter. Basically, I was doing anywhere from two to four hours every single day. I never took a day off,” she said.
“The diet thing was a huge. All I drink is water and green tea now, whereas before I would drink about four coffees a day (double-doubles), Grey Goose and Sprite, probably three or four Starbucks frappuccinos, Pepsi. You name it. I was drinking about 3,000 calories a day, I figured out. Now, all I have is 1,000 calories a day on the diet I’m on.”
In recent years, Coleman was more of a barn manager overseeing 120 horses. Today she’s cut back to 41 — 20 in Ontario and 21 at her New Jersey stable. She is also back on the track training many of her horses herself.
“I couldn’t be any happier. I’m glad I’ve finally seen how out of shape I was and I wasn’t training my own horses and a million different things that I was doing wrong. I got them all corrected and back on the right path now,” Coleman said.
“I feel awesome now. I used to always be tired and just not really feel that good all the time and always in a (bad) mood,” she said.
When she returned to Ontario this spring after five months of training horses in Florida, Coleman said many people have done double takes.
“You’ll hear them say, ‘Is that Casie?’ They don’t even recognize me. Everyone says I look 10 years younger,” she said.
“I had some people tell me, ‘You’ve trained a lot of good horses, but the best training job you’ve ever done is on yourself.’”
To hear our conversation with Casie Coleman — including wild tales of O’Brien Award parties, driving her new Maserati and what music she thinks is playing on repeat in hell — check out our weekly podcast, the Harness Racing Report, produced for Grand River Raceway by award-winning journalist Dave Briggs, at https://soundcloud.com/
By Dave Briggs, for Grand River Raceway