Day At The Track

A look at the Hambletonian Day undercard

04:20 AM 04 Aug 2018 NZST
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Ever since he began to perform limited stallion duties during the offseasons, McWicked has realized he's a man. Ever since the beginning of this year's racing season, he's been The Man.

McWicked enters Saturday's $260,100 Sam McKee Memorial for older male pacers at The Meadowlands Racetrack with six wins in eight starts this season, including victories in the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 14 and the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30. He is the 2-1 morning-line favorite in a field of 12 that will go the distance of 1-1/8 miles rather than the traditional mile. He will start from post 12, in the second tier, behind Funknwaffles in post two.

In his most recent win, on July 21 in the preferred at Woodbine Mohawk Park, McWicked rallied from fifth at the halfway point to beat Easy Lover Hanover by a neck in 1:50.1. He paced his final quarter in 25 seconds.

"He was really good," trainer Casie Coleman said. "They had a really slow half (:56.4) and he had a lot of ground to make up, but he did it. He did it quite easily actually. I was very happy with him.

"He had a three-week gap in the schedule (between the Haughton and McKee) and I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I ended up racing him and it worked out well."

The 7-year-old McWicked was the Dan Patch Award winner for best 3-year-old male pacer in 2014. He was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries, but bounced back last year with seven victories in 27 races and $560,025. This year, McWicked has already earned $556,831 as he tries to become the first pacer to win a Dan Patch Award at ages 2 or 3 and add another beyond the age of 5.

For his career, McWicked has won 28 of 82 races and $2.87 million.

"It's crazy to think that at 7 years old he's getting better, but it kind of seems like it," Coleman said. "He honestly has not put in one bad start. The couple times he got beat he raced just as good as the days he won, it's just the trips didn't work out."

McWicked is owned by Ed James' S S G Stables. McWicked has bred a handful of mares in recent offseasons for James, which has brought about a change in the stallion's personality.

"When he was 3 he acted like a gelding to be around," Coleman said. "He was a very calm, cool horse.

"Now he's definitely not a kid's pony. When he comes into the paddock, everyone knows who's coming because he's roaring and screaming. He's nice to jog and train, he's real quiet, lazy if anything, but he definitely knows he's a man now that he's been breeding. But he makes it worth it because every time he steps on the racetrack he usually does pretty good."

The McKee Memorial, formerly the U.S. Pacing Championship, honors the late Meadowlands Racetrack announcer and Communicators Hall of Fame member Sam McKee, who passed away in 2017. This year's race also includes defending champion Check Six as well as millionaires All Bets Off, Dealt A Winner, Filibuster Hanover, Mach It So, and Rockin Ron. Miso Fast is the 4-1 second choice.

Here is a look at some of the remaining races on the Hambletonian Day card.

Race 1 - $30,000 Vincennes (open trot)

The day begins with Dan Patch Award-winners Pinkman, the 2015 Hambletonian champ, and Obrigado meeting in a field of 10. The race also includes Muscle Diamond, who trotted 1:50.1 on June 29 at the Meadowlands. Sutton, who missed winning the Hambletonian by a neck in 2016, is the 3-1 morning-line favorite in the deep field, which features seven horses entering the race off either a win or second-place finish in their previous start.

Race 2 - $96,600 Shady Daisy (3-year-old female pacers)

Kissin In The Sand and Youaremycandygirl meet again. Kissin In The Sand defeated Youaremycandygirl by a neck in the June 30 James M. Lynch Memorial, arguably the race of the year, and beat the returning Dan Patch Award winner by three lengths in the Mistletoe Shalee on July 14. Kissin In The Sand is the 2-1 morning-line favorite while Youaremycandygirl, who won a division of the Adioo Volo on July 28, is 5-2. Stakes-winner Alexa's Power is 4-1.

Race 4 - $422,350 Peter Haughton Memorial (2-year-old male trotters)

New Jersey Sire Stakes champion Greenshoe, trained Marcus Melander, is 2-for-2 this year, with a 1:53.3 victory in the NJSS final, and 2-1 on the morning line. He was purchased for $330,000 under the name Rifleman at the 2017 Lexington Selected Sale and is from the first crop of stallion Father Patrick. His dam, Designed To Be, was second in the 2014 Hambletonian Oaks. Melander's Gerry, also 2-for-2, is the 4-1 second choice.

Race 5 - $357,450 James Doherty Memorial (2-year-old female trotters)

Joe Holloway's Starita and Julie Miller's Special Honor both were nose winners in their respective Doherty eliminations. Starita is 9-2 on the morning line and Special Honor is 5-1. The favorite is Jimmy Takter's Beautiful Sin, whose second-place finish last week to Starita was her first loss in three races.

Race 6 - $286,650 John Cashman Memorial (free-for-all trot)

Hannelore Hanover, the defending Horse of the Year and No. 1-ranked horse in North America, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. She starts from post 12 in the 12-horse field that will go 1-1/8 miles rather than the traditional one mile. Hannelore Hanover is unbeaten in six races this year. Will Take Charge is 4-1 followed by Dan Patch Award-winners JL Cruze (5-1) and Marion Marauder (8-1), who won the 2016 Hambletonian and Trotting Triple Crown.

Race 7 - $281,000 Cane Pace (3-year-old pacers)

Meadowlands Pace winner Courtly Choice is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in the first jewel in the Pacing Triple Crown. O'Brien Award-winner Stay Hungry, who was third in the Meadowlands Pace, is the 4-1 second choice. American History, fresh off his second-place finish in the Adios, is 5-1.

Race 14 - $154,800 Dr. John R. Steele Memorial (mare trotters)

Two-time Dan Patch Award-winner and 2017 Hambletonian Oaks champion Ariana G is the 9-5 morning-line favorite. The 4-year-old mare enters the race off wins over male rivals in the age-restricted Graduate Series final and Hambletonian Maturity. Broadway Donna, who also has multiple Dan Patch trophies, is the 4-1 second choice followed by Emoticon Hanover at 5-1. Both are 5-year-olds.

Race 15 - $197,400 Lady Liberty (mare pacers)

New Zealand-bred Shartin, the richest horse in North America at the moment with $590,040 in purses, is the 9-5 morning-line favorite in a field of 12 that will race 1-1/8 miles. She has won 12 of 16 starts this season. Three-time Dan Patch Award-winner Pure Country is the 4-1 second choice followed by two-time O'Brien Award-winner L A Delight at 5-1. Pure Country won last year's Lady Liberty.

by Ken Weingartner, for the USTA 


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