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Calhoun, Coleman On 'Cheddar'

Betterthancheddar-01.jpg

Published: July 11, 2011 4:36 pm ET

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Having enjoyed successes over the years, horse owner Steve Calhoun and trainer Casie Coleman will try and take it a step further and make history on Saturday.

Coleman, Canada's four-time Trainer of the Year, including the last two seasons, will attempt to become the first female trainer to win the $1 million Meadowlands Pace when Betterthancheddar goes to the gate Saturday night at Meadowlands Racetrack.

"Casie changed my life," said Calhoun, who owns Betterthancheddar with the Coleman-led West Wins Stable. "She's taken me to places I'd never been before (as an owner). I met her in 2003 and our best horse early on was Moving Pictures (Canada's 2007 Pacing Mare of the Year). It's really been a great experience with Casie."

Betterthancheddar will be Coleman's fourth Meadowlands Pace finalist. American Ideal finished fourth in 2005, Art Colony was ninth in 2009 and Sportswriter finished seventh in 2010.

Sportswriter, another Calhoun-Coleman horse, won the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup prior to the Meadowlands Pace and was the Dan Patch Award winner as best two-year-old male pacer of 2009. He was retired because of an injury after the Meadowlands Pace.

"This is a totally different situation than last year," Calhoun said. "We're kind of flying under the radar with this colt. With Sportswriter, there was a lot more pressure. Plus, he didn't handle the heat that well last year. There was a real bad heat spell in New Jersey at that time."

Betterthancheddar, driven by David Miller, was third in his Meadowlands Pace elimination race on July 9, finishing two lengths behind winner Big Jim. Calhoun is hopeful about the final.

"This colt has the speed, the talent, and Casie knows it," Calhoun said. "And Dave is cool under pressure. We'll be ready this week. You'll see a good effort from him."

Calhoun purchased Betterthancheddar, a son of Bettors Delight out of the mare Lady Ashlee Ann, for $30,000 at the Lexington Selected Sale. He was prepared to go up to $75,000 for Betterthancheddar, who is a half-brother to 2007 Breeders Crown champ Artists View as well as stakes winners BJs Squall and Ashlees Big Guy.

"The bidding got to $30,000 and just stalled," Calhoun said. "We got him, I just couldn't believe it. I think it was because he was a little immature and his dam was 16 years old. That turns some buyers off right away."

Calhoun had no such concerns and snatched him up. So far, Betterthancheddar has won three of eight races.

"I know I've said he may be the best horse I've ever trained and obviously, he hasn't proven it just yet, but I think he will," Coleman said. "He's had so many trips being on the front and he doesn't like being first up. He prefers racing off someone's helmet. Hopefully, (this) week he'll be second over, third over, and be towed into it."

Coleman was delighted with how Betterthancheddar performed in his Meadowlands Pace elimination.

"He raced awesome," she said. "It was a tough, first-over trip. David realized he wasn't winning, but he tried as hard as he could."

The trainer hopes a shoeing change will help in the final.

"He was sticking to the track a little too much," Coleman said. "You don't need the extra grab on your feet at the Meadowlands."

Grabbing a piece of history would be enough.

(Meadowlands)

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