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McWicked still impressing at age 7

June 20, 2018
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Not many male pacers have won Dan Patch awards at ages 2 or 3 and returned to capture another trophy against older horses. The list since 1990 features Artsplace, Jenna's Beach Boy, Gallo Blue Chip, Art Major, and Sweet Lou. All with the exception of Sweet Lou were 4 year olds when they received their honor as an older horse; Sweet Lou was 5.
 
McWicked, who earned a Dan Patch Award at age 3 in 2014, is hoping to add his name to the list -- at the age of 7. And trainer Casie Coleman says the stallion has never been better.

"To see him still going, and going as hard as he is, is awesome; normally right now they're getting a little tired and tailing off," Coleman said. "I honestly think this horse seems stronger than he's ever been yet, which I don't even know how is possible, but he seems like a stronger horse right now."

The winner of two of four races this year, McWicked on Saturday heads to The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono for the eliminations of the Ben Franklin Pace for older male pacers. McWicked is in the second of three eliminations on the card, which also features eliminations for the Max C. Hempt Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers, Earl Beal Jr. Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, and James M. Lynch Memorial for 3-year-old female pacers.

McWicked is coming off a second-place finish to Sintra in the Gold Cup at Woodbine Mohawk Park. McWicked got away eighth, 16 lengths off the lead at the quarter-mile point, before pacing his final three-quarters of a mile in 1:18.4 to rally for the runner-up spot.

"It was insane the back half he had, but he was just too far back," Coleman said. "He couldn't have raced any better, he was just far out of the race.

"Every time we've put him on the track he's raced great."

McWicked, owned by Ed James' S S G Stables, won 12 of 23 races at age 3 including the Breeders Crown, Hempt Memorial, Adios, and Progress Pace on his way to $1.47 million in purses. He hit the board a total of 21 times that season and got checks in the North America Cup, Little Brown Jug, Messenger, Milstein Memorial, and Matron.

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. McWicked finished the campaign with four consecutive second-place finishes, including the TVG Series championship, Breeders Crown and Allerage Farms Open Pace and might have been in the mix for his second Dan Patch Award with a win or two in any of them.

"He kept being the bridesmaid," Coleman said. "He just had a lot of bad luck with traffic. He was pacing harder than any of them at the wire, he just had some bad luck. But saying that, the horse has made over $2 million, so I guess you can't say it's too bad of luck."

For his career, the son of McArdle-Western Sahara has won 24 of 78 starts and $2.37 million.

"It's not often that he's off the board," Coleman said. "He usually gives you all he's got and he's usually right there. He's had a lot of first-over journeys where he still gets the job done. He can take any trip you give him.

"He's staked in everything all summer long. As long as he's sound and healthy he'll be in all the events and hopefully he can win a couple of them."

Coleman credited an offseason layoff in Kentucky, the work of trainer Jim McDonald in preparing McWicked in Florida, and the decision to bypass the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series in March/April as reasons for her horse's early-season success.

"Hopefully it pays off for us," Coleman said. "He's been sharp, sound, and healthy. We just hope for a little bit of luck on the weekend." (Ken Weingartner/USTA)

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