McWicked, harness racing’s richest horse this year, drew post No. 3 for Saturday’s $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace and was made the 5-2 morning-line favorite while Cruzado Dela Noche drew post No. 6 for Saturday’s $500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot and was also tabbed as the 5-2 morning-line choice.
Draws for the Open Pace and Open Trot were conducted Tuesday at Wisecrackers at Mohegan Sun Pocono. The draws for the remaining 10 championship events were held last weekend following the eliminations.
All 12 Breeders Crown championships, with $6.4 million in total purses, will be raced Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono. Post time is 5:30 p.m. (EDT) for the first race.
The Open Pace was the only Breeders Crown division that did not require eliminations. Joining McWicked are Filibuster Hanover (post one), Lazarus N (post two), Western Fame (post four), Rockin Ron (post five), Dontellmeagain (post six), All Bets Off (post seven), and Dealt A Winner (post eight). Lazarus N was supplemented for $50,000.
McWicked, who won a Breeders Crown at age 3 in 2014, is the sport’s top money-earner this season with $1.17 million in purses. He has won nine of 16 races for trainer Casie Coleman and owner Ed James’ S S G Stables.
He enters the Open Pace off wins in the Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers on Oct. 13 and the Allerage Farms Open at Red Mile on Oct. 6. He paced 1:46.2, the second-fastest race mile in history, to defeat Lazarus N by three-quarters of a length in the Allerage.
Other wins for McWicked this year include the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30 at Pocono, the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 14 at The Meadowlands, and the Canadian Pacing Derby on Sept. 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
“Everything seems good with him,” Coleman said. “I trained him on Saturday and he was awesome. He’s sharp, sound, healthy. I’m very happy we didn’t go elims and I got to give him a week off to freshen him up.”
Lazarus N, who was scratched sick from the Dan Rooney Invitational, is looking for a win in the Breeders Crown so he can earn an invite to next month’s TVG Series championship. New Zealand’s two-time Horse of the Year has two wins and three seconds since arriving in the U.S. in May.
Jimmy Takter, who has won a record 33 Breeders Crown finals, trains the 6-year-old stallion for owner Taylor Made Stallions. For his career, the son of Bettor's Delight-Bethany has won 37 of 50 races and $3.06 million.
“He feels very sharp,” Takter said. “His blood work has been going in the right direction, so he should be all right. The Breeders Crown was my goal the whole year, but I didn’t count on him being sick after Lexington. I’d like to have another start in him, but he feels really good.
“This is one of the more interesting races on the card, I think. People love to see these horses.”
In the Open Trot, elimination winners drew for posts one through five. Guardian Angel AS will start from post three and Top Flight Angel from post four. The remainder of the field is Pinkman (post one), Dunbar Hall (post two), Homicide Hunter (post five), Warrawee Roo (post seven), Will Take Charge (post eight), and Marion Marauder (post nine).
Morning-line favorite Cruzado Dela Noche, a 6-year-old stallion, raced in the U.S. at ages 2 and 3 before going to Europe. He returned to the U.S. this summer and in his first start back won the $1 million Yonkers International Trot on Oct. 13. He finished third in his Breeders Crown elimination.
“He raced very well,” trainer Marcus Melander said about the elim. “He was first up and it was a pretty slow first half. He’ll be good next week. We’ll take off his shoes next week and he will step up a little bit. Normally he is a better horse if we can take the shoes off. With a good draw I’m very confident in him.”
Cruzado Dela Noche, a son of Muscle Massive out of Alidade, is owned by Anders Ström’s Courant stable. He has won 15 of 57 career races and $1.20 million.
Homicide Hunter, a 6-year-old gelding, is the fastest trotter in harness racing history thanks to his 1:48.4 win in the Allerage Farms Open Trot on Oct. 6 at Red Mile. The previous fastest trotting mile was 1:49 set by Sebastian K at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono in 2014.
The Chris Oakes-trained Homicide Hunter, a son of Mr Cantab-Evening Prayer, has won 38 of 77 career starts and $1.46 million. He is owned by Crawford Farms Racing.
McWicked, Pinkman chase history
Only once in history has a horse won a second Breeders Crown trophy four years after winning his first. Two horses, though, could accomplish the feat Saturday at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Seven-year-old pacer McWicked and 6-year-old trotter Pinkman will try to join Wesgate Crown as the only multiple Breeders Crown champions with a gap of more than three years between their first and second titles. Wesgate Crown, a trotter enshrined in the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, won at age 2 in 1993 and again at age 6 in 1997.
McWicked, who won his Breeders Crown at age 3 in 2014, will start Saturday’s $430,000 Open Pace from post three in a field of eight.
Pinkman, who also won his Breeders Crown in 2014, will start the $500,000 Open Trot from post one in a field of nine. Pinkman finished second in his elimination, which was won by Guardian Angel AS.
McWicked is the sport’s top money-earner this season with $1.17 million in purses. He has won nine of 16 races for trainer Casie Coleman and owner Ed James’ S S G Stables. He enters the Open Pace off wins in the Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers on Oct. 13 and the Allerage Farms Open at Red Mile on Oct. 6. He paced in 1:46.2, the second-fastest race mile in history, to defeat Lazarus N by three-quarters of a length in the Allerage.
Other wins for McWicked this year include the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30 at Pocono, the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 14 at the Meadowlands, and the Canadian Pacing Derby on Sept. 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
McWicked was winless in a combined 14 races at ages 4 and 5 because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries. He has won $1.73 million since then, pushing his career earnings to $3.50 million. A son of McArdle out of Western Sahara, he has won 31 of 90 lifetime starts.
With a victory Saturday, McWicked would join 2012 champion Bettor Sweet and 2013 champion Foiled Again as the only Open Pace winners older than age 6.
“I don’t know what there is to be said; everybody that’s watched him race knows what he is,” Coleman said. “I couldn’t be any happier with the horse. He’s never thrown in a clunker. Every time he goes behind the gate he gives me everything he’s got. Even when he’s had a few bad posts and a few bad trips he does all he can do.
“You wouldn’t know he’s 7 years old, that’s for sure.”
Pinkman, trained by Jimmy Takter, was Trotter of the Year at age 3 in 2015 when his wins included the Hambletonian. He, like McWicked, has suffered from chronic throat and breathing issues requiring multiple surgeries. He has won only twice since turning age 4, but earned $241,312 during that time. One of his victories came in a Group 2 event in Sweden.
For his career, the son of Explosive Matter-Margie Seelster has won 19 of 53 career races and earned $2.70 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.
“He’s been racing really good, he just hasn’t had luck with post positions,” Takter said. “Mentally, it gets hard on a horse. He just needs to get his confidence up a little there. I was really proud of his performance (in his elimination). The track was maybe a little hard for him. He races so much better barefoot and the track was a little tough for him. He might be a little bit better on Saturday.
“You don’t make $2.7 million if you’re average,” he added. “He’s a warrior.”
Below are the draws for the Breeders Crown Open Pace and Open Trot:
$430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace
1-Filibuster Hanover-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-4/1
2-Lazarus N-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-3/1
3-McWicked-Brian Sears-Casie Coleman-5/2
4-Western Fame-Brett Miller-Jimmy Takter-6/1
5-Rockin Ron-Chris Page-Ron Burke-12/1
6-Donttellmeagain-Tim Tetrick-Jim King Jr.-9/2
7-All Bets Off-Matt Kakaley-Ron Burke-10/1
8-Dealt A Winner-David Miller-Mark Silva-15/1
$500,000 Breeders Crown Open Trot
1-Pinkman-Yannick Gingras-Jimmy Takter-10/1
2-Dunbar Hall-Jody Jamieson-Stephanie Jamieson-20/1
3-Guardian Angel AS-Matt Kakaley-Anette Lorentzon-5/1
4-Top Flight Angel-Andy Miller-Julie Miller-6/1
5-Homicide Hunter-Brian Sears-Chris Oakes-3/1
6-Cruzado Dela Noche-Brian Sears-Marcus Melander-5/2
7-Warrawee Roo-Dan Dube-Luc Blais-12/1
8-Will Take Charge-Tim Tetrick-Jeff Gillis-15/1
9-Marion Marauder-Scott Zeron-Paula Wellwood-4/1