McWicked, harness racing's richest horse of 2018, drew Post 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 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 (Oct. 23) at Wisecrackers at Pocono Downs. 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 for the first race will be at 5:30 p.m. (EDT).
The Open Pace was the only Breeders Crown division that did not require eliminations. Joining McWicked will be Filibuster Hanover (Post 1), Lazarus N (Post 2), Western Fame (Post 4), Rockin Ron (Post 5), Dontellmeagain (Post 6), All Bets Off (Post 7), and Dealt A Winner (Post 8). Lazarus N was supplemented for $50,000.
McWicked, who won a Breeders Crown at age three 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 Raceway on October 13 and the Allerage Farms Open at the Red Mile on October 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 came in the Ben Franklin Pace on June 30 at Pocono, the William R. Haughton Memorial on July 14 at the Meadowlands Racetrack, and the Canadian Pacing Derby on September 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 six-year-old horse for owner Taylor Made Stallions. For his career, the son of Bettors 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 3 and Top Flight Angel from Post 4. The remainder of the field consists of Pinkman (Post 1), Dunbar Hall (Post 2), Homicide Hunter (Post 5), Warrawee Roo (Post 7), Will Take Charge (Post 8), and Marion Marauder (Post 9).
Morning line favorite Cruzado Dela Noche, a six-year-old horse, raced in the U.S. at ages two and three 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 October 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 $1.2 million.
Homicide Hunter, a six-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 October 6 at the 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 six-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 two in 1993 and again at age six in 1997.
McWicked, who won his Breeders Crown at age three in 2014, will start Saturday's $430,000 Open Pace from Post 3 in a field of eight.
Pinkman, who also won his Breeders Crown in 2014, will start the $500,000 Open Trot from Post 1 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 October 13 and the Allerage Farms Open at the Red Mile on October 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 have come in 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 September 1 at Woodbine Mohawk Park.
McWicked was winless in a combined 14 races at ages four and five because of breathing issues and multiple throat surgeries. He has won $1.73 million since then and has pushed his career earnings to $3.5 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 six.
"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 seven years old, that's for sure."
Pinkman, trained by Jimmy Takter, was Trotter of the Year in the U.S. at age three in 2015 when his wins included the Hambletonian. He, like McWicked, has suffered from chronic throat and breathing issues which have required multiple surgeries. He has won only twice since turning four, 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 $2.7 million for owners Christina Takter, brothers John and Jim Fielding, Joyce McClelland, and Herb Liverman.
"He's been racing really [well], 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 PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 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 PP-Horse-Driver-Trainer-ML 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