McWicked is not the most energetic horse when enjoying an uncontested lead, but his lackadaisical manner can change in a hurry when necessary. The colt's determination is one of the attributes that impresses trainer Casie Coleman as she prepares McWicked for Friday's inaugural $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers at Northfield Park. McWicked was not eligible to the Milstein, but the colt's connections paid $34,000 to get into the race.
McWicked, who brings a five-race win streak to the Milstein, will start from post No. 1 with driver David Miller. For the year, McWicked has won seven of 10 races, including the Max C. Hempt Memorial and the Delvin Miller Adios, and earned $654,271 for owner Ed James' SSG Stables.
During his string of victories, McWicked has not once lost ground in the stretch. In fact, he has won by no less than a length during that span and increased his advantage in the lane by a total of 8-1/2 lengths.
"It's just his desire to win, how much guts he has,” Coleman said. "Because he's a lazy colt, sometimes I look at him at the three-quarters pole and I'm a little worried that he's getting tired. As soon as Dave hits the head of the lane and a horse comes up to look at him, boom he's just gone.
"There's hardly been a race that Dave's had him where he's been all out. He's been quite in hand coming to the finish in most of his races. I've been real happy with that.”
McWicked, a son of McArdle-Western Sahara, heads to the Milstein off a 4-1/4 length win over Let's Drink On It in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes on Aug. 7 at Harrah's Philadelphia. The final preliminary leg of the series is Aug. 29 at The Meadows and the $260,000 championship is Sept. 7 at Philly.
The three-week gap between McWicked's previous start and the next round of the sire stakes is the reason Coleman was searching for a race for McWicked. Following the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship, the colt is expected to head to the Little Brown Jug on Sept. 18 at the Delaware County Fair in Ohio.
"This race came up and it's a one-shot go for $400,000,” Coleman said. "I talked it over with Ed James and we decided that it fits in pretty nicely, so we decided to go this route. I don't see why he wouldn't be good on a half(-mile track), but it's also a good test on a half before we go to the Jug.
"Win, lose or draw it still gives me a couple weeks to freshen him up and get him ready for the sire stakes after this.”
For his career, McWicked has won 10 of 20 races and earned $833,888. He has finished worse than third only twice, most recently in the North America Cup on June 14 at Mohawk. He was fourth in that start, behind JK Endofanera, Tellitlikeitis, and He's Watching. It was the last time he lost a race.
"He's been just superb every time he races,” Coleman said. "Usually you'd think they'd start to get a little tired at this time of year with all the big miles they've been going, but this horse just seems to be thriving off it.
"Every time I race him, I like him more and more. He seems to get stronger and stronger every time I put him behind the gate. I've been just thrilled with him.”
Here is the field for the Milstein Memorial:
1 McWicked (David Miller)
2 All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley)
3 Stevensville (Tim Tetrick)
4 Tellitlikeitis (Brett Miller)
5 Luck Be Withyou (Ron Pierce)
6 Let's Drink On It (Tyler Smith)
7 Boomboom Ballykeel (Aaron Merriman)
8 Seventh Secret (Mike Wilder)
This year's Milstein Memorial program carries total purses of $755,700."The Carl Milstein Memorial is the richest in Northeastern Ohio racinghistory,” confirmed Brent Reitz, Northfield Park Vice President and General Manager, "but the rest of the card is loaded with power, too.”
The 15-race program includes the $100,000Milstein Memorial Consolation, four $40,000 divisions of Ohio Sires Stakes for two year-old colt pacers and trotters, and three $20,000 Open events.
Another attraction on the track will be the "Legends Driver Challenge," which features Northfield leading drivers of days gone by. Gerry Bookmyer, Doug Hamilton, Don Irvine Jr., William Irvine, Keith Kash, Dan Ross, Don McKirgan and Bill Zendt will battle in a conditioned trot that leads off the evening's $1.00 Pick-5 wager in the third race. The eight veteran reinsmen have all won driving titles at Northfield during a span that covered the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
Superfecta wagering has been added to Friday's featured 11th race event. It is also the fourth leg of the Pick-4, which has a guaranteed pool of $10,000. First race post time is 6:00 p.m.
In addition to superior racing action, Milstein Night will also offer guests a sumptuous spread in Lady Luck's clubhouse dining room. The dinner buffet, inspired by Hard Rock Rocksino Executive Chef Chris Poplin,is specially priced at $15.95. Limited clubhouse seating remains; call 330-467-4101 for reservations.
Guests who want to be down close to all the racing action can gather on the grandstand apron to sample the fare of three of Northeast Ohio's most popular food trucks. Live music by Unknown Reason also will be part of the apron scene from 5-10 p.m. (Harness Racing Communications/Northfield Park)