“I had 120 horses and I’ve been downsizing because it was a personal decision,” she said. “I wanted to concentrate on stakes horses and I had been friends with Ed James for a long time, but never trained a horse for him. This horse, McWicked, beat me (with Ewald Hanover) last year and I knew he was talented. I thought he would be a perfect sire stakes horse and duck some of the big ones on that circuit, but when I got him down in Florida, I knew he was a serious horse. I’ve been high on him since he came to my barn and I really thought he would win the North America Cup. I really believed he would.”
A son of McArdle out of the Western Ideal mare Western Sahara, McWicked is the 5-2 morning line favorite for the $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs on Saturday (June 28). The race is the 10th on the card and 2014 Hall of Fame inductee David Miller will be holding the lines.
|New Image Media photo|
|McWicked has banked $143,830 in just six starts this year.|
Purchased as a yearling for $35,000 at the 2012 Standardbred Horse Sale, McWicked was bred by Andray Farm of Punxsutawney, Pa., and was formerly owned by Paymaq Racing, Andy Miller Stable and Hannah Miller. He was conditioned by Julie Miller for his first career year and paced 10 miles, mainly on the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes circuit. The colt made just shy of $180,000 with a record of 3-5-1 and a mark of 1:52f.
He was third in the $260,000 Pennsylvania Sire Stakes final behind Allstar Partner and Sometimes Said and fourth in the $154,575 Matron final behind All Bets Off, Stevensville and Carracci Hanover.
McWicked was purchased for $210,000 last fall at the Standardbred Mixed Sale by Ed James' S S G Stables and arrived in Coleman's barn this spring.
He will meet All Star Partner, Sometimes Said, Stevensville and All Bets Off on Saturday evening after a sharp elimination score in 1:48 last weekend. The half went in :53.1, with three-quarters in 1:21 and he came home in :27.
“He just didn’t get the trip in (finishing fourth in) the North America Cup,” Coleman said. “Dave (Miller) came back and didn’t give me one excuse. That’s exactly what he said to me and he was very pleased with the horse. Of course I’m disappointed he didn’t win, but how can you be disappointed with how he raced? He was awesome out there. Things just didn’t go right for him, but it is a long summer and he is staked to everything.”
McWicked certainly flashed talent last year, but has definitely put his name in the headlines in 2014. He has gone to the post on six occasions with three victories and two second place finishes. One of those victories was a dominating performance in his North America Cup elimination on June 7. The colt came home in :26.4 to win in 1:48.3.
“I haven’t even thought about a world record,” Coleman said. “That would be awesome, but it’s definitely exciting when you have a horse like him that gives you a great shot to win races. Jim McDonald trained him down over the winter and did a tremendous job with him. He talks a lot to anyone that will listen, but other than that he is a great horse to be around. And all he does is talk. He’s just really vocal.”
After his performance in the Hempt, McWicked has a pretty stiff schedule for the rest of the season and Coleman, who captured the last two editions of the Little Brown Jug with Michael’s Power in 2012 and Vegas Vacation in 2013, is already preparing for another visit to the Buckeye State in September. She likes her odds for a three-peat.
“He is so versatile,” she said. “He can do anything you want him to, but he does like to come off some cover at the end of the mile, but he doesn’t require it because he has such great speed. I don’t think a half (-mile track) will be any problem for him.
“Winning the Jug is the most amazing thing and it is so exciting to have another horse that gives us a chance to do that. We are definitely already thinking about it and that track is so awesome for horses, that we think he has a great shot to do that. But of course he will be in Lexington too.
“He’s just a very talented horse that I have been high on since I got him in my barn after his second qualifier this year.”
* * *
Bill Zendt knows what it’s like to have a special horse face special horses.
In the early 2000s, Zendt trained female pacer Always Cam, who regularly faced arguably the best collection of pacing mares ever seen -- Eternal Camnation, Bunny Lake, Worldly Beauty, Loyal Opposition, Burning Point, and Carolina Sunshine, to name a few.
Always Cam earned nearly $1 million and won the Breeders Crown Mare Pace in 2004.
|Chris Gooden photo|
|Cammikey has banked $123,788 in his career.|
Now Zendt is training a 3-year-old homebred son of Always Cam named Cammikey. The colt, owned by Nan and Wendy Cameron -- who raced Always Cam -- is among the nine horses in Saturday’s $500,000 Max C. Hempt Memorial at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs.
Cammikey has won six of eight races this year and finished second to All Bets Off in last weekend’s eliminations. He will start the final from post one with Brian Zendt, Bill’s son, driving.
“This little guy is not nearly as big as some of them, but he’s a trier,” Bill Zendt said. “He has a big heart. I knew last year he was a little extra special, but he had some breathing problems so we quit with him. He’s a pretty nice 3-year-old. I don’t know how he’ll do against this group, but you never know until you go against them.”
Last year, Cammikey won once in four starts. This season, he opened the campaign with five consecutive victories. He entered his Hempt elim off a 1:49.4 win in a division of the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes at The Meadows.
“It’s nice to have one in (the final), just to compete in a race like this,” Zendt said. “Hopefully we’ll have some luck. He’s got a good spot. The three, four, or five (posts) would probably be ideal, but you only have to leave as hard as you want to get out of there.
“There’s a bunch of good ones in there. They’re special. (Cammikey) is extra special to us.”
Following are Saturday’s stakes fields in post order with drivers, trainers and morning line:
Race 9, $300,000 Lynch Memorial – 1. Uffizi Hanover, David Miller, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 2. Sayitall BB, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 5-1; 3. Also Encouraging, Brett Miller, Casie Coleman, 15-1; 4. Fancy Desire, George Napolitano Jr., Kevin Carr, 3-1; 5. Southwind Silence, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 6. Cinamony, Corey Callahan, Alex Rice Jr., 6-1; 7. Gallie Bythe Beach, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 12-1; 8. Weeper, Dave Palone, Kelly O’Donnell, 4-1; 9. My Lady Day, Tim Tetrick, Joe Holloway, 20-1.
Race 10, $500,000 Hempt Memorial – 1. Cammikey, Brian Zendt, Bill Zendt, 6-1; 2. Allstar Partner, Corey Callahan, John Butenschoen, 12-1; 3. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 5-2; 4. Sometimes Said, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 4-1; 5. At Press Time, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 5-1; 6. Stevensville, Tim Tetrick, Ray Schnittker, 20-1; 7. Bushwacker, Ron Pierce, Chris Ryder, 15-1; 8. All Bets Off, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 3-1; 9. Limelight Beach, Brian Sears, Brian Brown, 10-1.
Race 11, $500,000 Franklin Pace – 1. Bettor’s Edge, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 12-1; 2. Allstar Legend, Scott Zeron, Ron Burke, 15-1; 3. Foiled Again, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 4-1; 4. Sweet Lou, Ron Pierce, Ron Burke, 5-2; 5. Domethatagain, Simon Allard, Rene Allard, 10-1; 6. Bolt The Duer, Mark MacDonald, Peter Foley, 5-1; 7. Captive Audience, David Miller, Corey Johnson, 20-1; 8. Captaintreacherous, Tim Tetrick, Tony Alagna, 3-1; 9. Sunshine Beach, Brian Sears, Mark Steacy, 6-1.
Race 12, $500,000 Beal Jr. Memorial – 1. Amped Up Hanover, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 10-1; 2. Nuncio, John Campbell, Jimmy Takter, 3-1; 3. Harper Blue Chip, Brian Sears, Mark Steacy, 5-1; 4. Don Dorado, Tim Tetrick, Robert Baggitt Jr., 4-1; 5. Outburst, Andrew McCarthy, Noel Daley, 15-1; 6. Well Built, Jim Meittinis, Chris Ryder, 20-1; 7. Datsyuk, Charlie Norris, Charlie Norris, 6-1; 8. Father Patrick, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 9. Sumatra, Brett Miller, Tom Fanning, 12-1.
-- Ken Weingartner also contributed to this report