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Coleman, Sportswriter Love The Spa

Published: June 23, 2010 7:04 pm ET

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With a highly touted North America Cup contender in Sportswriter, the road to the 27th edition of the $1.5 million event looked to be a smooth one for three-time O’Brien Award winning trainer Casie Coleman. But that road was rutted with cracks. Quarter cracks, that is


Sportswriter won his first seven races at two including last year’s Metro Pace in a World Record time of 1:49.2 and divisions of the Nassagaweya and Champlain Stakes. The son of Artsplace-Precious Bunny, purchased for $50,000 as a yearling at the Harrisburg sale, ended his year with an intense second-place effort to All Speed Hanover in the Breeders Crown for total earnings of $875,411, and was named Two-Year-Old Pacer of the Year both in Canada and the United States.

As Sportswriter returned to the track for his highly anticipated sophomore campaign, Coleman discovered that her prized pupil suffered a quarter crack on each of his front feet before his pari-mutuel debut.

His recent effort in his Cup elimination last Saturday, however, shows that those injuries could be history. Sportswriter survived a first over trip and battled with divisional heavyweights Kyle Major and Rock N Roll Heaven right to the wire. The fastest of three elims went in 1:48.4 with Rock N Roll Heaven getting up for the win by a nose over Kyle Major, and Sportswriter just a half-length behind.

“He raced absolutely tremendous,” said a pleased Coleman. “Obviously we didn’t want a tough trip like that but when I get thinking about it he needed to be stretched out. We’ve been babying him the first couple races and he had a couple of third over trips but he never really had to pace too hard until the last quarter. He had to work hard [in his elim] - he was out pretty much the whole mile going gangbusters.

“He was obviously getting a bit tired coming to the wire off that tough trip but he dug as hard as he could right to the wire. He probably still had to be a touch short off the training I’ve been able to do and it's only his third start of the year, so it’s going to do wonders for him this Saturday. He paced [1]:48.4 in his third start this year so I couldn’t be any happier."

“His feet are awesome,” Coleman told Trot Insider at Tuesday’s post draw, noting that her colt went a training trip that morning and came out of it in great shape. “I’ve been going to the Mohawk spa and I give them all of the credit. That’s one thing I have not used a whole lot; but that sea salt spa, I’ve been using it [with Sportswriter] and it’s really calmed his feet down and got the heat out of them. He’s got his steel shoes back on, which the horse appreciates and he came out of his race very sound this week. He’s ready to rock.”

Owned by Steve Calhoun of Chatham, the West Wins Stable of Cambridge, ON and Southwind Farm of Pennington, New Jersey, Sportswriter drew Post 6 for Saturday’s Pepsi North America Cup with regular reinsman Mark Macdonald set to drive. Accustomed to drawing outside post positions in some of harness racing's big money events, Coleman was thrilled with a little post relief.

“When I saw the six-hole for Sportswriter I was pretty happy. As everybody knows I draw pretty frickin’ bad,” she laughed. “I’ve got the 10 [hole] written all over me. But the six-hole? I couldn’t be any happier."

With speed on all sides of her starter, Coleman likes her spot in the middle of the starting gate and would ideally like to see MacDonald set up off a helmet.

“Coming out of the six-hole Mark can look over to both sides of the shoulder and see what’s going on and make his decision," continued Coleman. "Sportswriter is very versatile. He can leave a hundred or come from off [the pace]. He can do whatever he wants to do. If Mark has to start him up, he can shut him back down and put him into a hole for a while."

Like most participants, Coleman feels strongly that the key to winning the Cup with such a solid field will be the trip.

“This race is going to come down to trip. Whoever gets the best trip is going to be the winner and hopefully we can get that golden second over trip like we got in the Metro.”

To read an article on Coleman and Sportswriter in this week’s Toronto Sun, click here.

To view the recap of the post position draw, click here.

Mohawk's 13-dash Saturday program has a first-race post time of 7:10 p.m. Post time for the 27th edition of the Cup (Race 7), the richest pacing event in the world, is 9:40 p.m., The Score Television Network will air a special one and one-half hour telecast nationally from 8:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. (ET).

To view free, printable program pages for Mohawk's Saturday card courtesy of TrackIT, click here.

To view SC's regular entries page for NA Cup night, click here.

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