Coleman: Canadian Drivers Get No Favours

Published: July 15, 2011 12:05 pm EDT

There is always a wealth of intriguing storylines heading into million-dollar harness races, as track media departments pull out all the stops and bring the angles to the fore. Although, a comment made by Casie Coleman, trainer of Meadowlands Pace starter Betterthancheddar, could prove to be the most interesting of all


To boot, Coleman's comments didn't come via raceway PR, but in a Daily Racing Form article by Derick Giwner.

Coleman, who will send Betterthancheddar out for the annual classic, made a comment about the driver she selected to steer her Bettors Delight colt. The four-time O'Brien Award winning conditioner has a well-documented and successful history with Canadian pilot Mark MacDonald, who is also a deserving, multiple O'Brien Award recipient.

MacDonald returned from a serious May 26 accident at Mohawk Racetrack much sooner than anyone expected, and actually drove Betterthancheddar in his start prior to the Meadowlands Pace eliminations. Coleman employed the services of regular Meadowlands driver David Miller for the 'Pace' elims.

When asked why she has called on Miller for the Pace elims and for this Saturday's final, Coleman offered an eyebrow-raising comment.

“I have found that I am better off using an American driver when I come down here with my horses, because then I’m more in the ‘in-click’ as opposed to using a Canadian driver,” Coleman said.

She went on to state, “I use Mark MacDonald on everything. I love using Mark MacDonald. He just doesn’t get the favours here (at the Meadowlands).”

Betterthancheddar has drawn Post 7 for the $1 million Meadowlands Pace, and he and Miller have been assessed as a 10-1 shot on the morning line.

To view the draw results for the Meadowlands Pace, click here.

(With files from the Daily Racing Form)

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Well everyone knows that they race differently at the Meadowlands then they do at Woodbine and Mohawk but, in my opinion Casie Coleman should of gone with Mark MacDonald. Mark has only won Casie her only North American Cup victory and the guy has also won the Little Brown Jug. I'm not questioning Brent Miller's abilities, but Mark MacDonald when he's healthy, which I think he is now, is one of the top drivers in North America and is more then capable of stealing a Meadowlands Pace victory. I agree that the American drivers don't wait on the Canadian drivers but Mark has proven himself to be world class. Give the guy the credit he deserves!

As Canadian horsepeople, we need to protect our industry here at home. I really get pissed when I pick up our local paper and all you read about in Duff's column is about how well a certain American is doing and the only publicity we get is negative. The same when it come to drivers. This sight, local papers and the media always seem to hype the Americans. How much hype do we get on the otherside of the pond. NONE!!!!! In my opinion, Mark is just as good as the big majority of drivers at the Meadowlands as is Jody, Randy, Scotty, Phil, Paul, Mike and alot of others that don't get the opportunity or publicity that these Americans get. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the Americans, good for them. All I'm saying, is if we are Canadian trainers and owners, then lets give our top talent a chance to shine and prove themselves. maybe with some positive publicity and the chance to prove we/they are just as cabable, then maybe we can attract more of an attendance at ouor tracks here. Personally,nothing against Cassie, but I think she was wrong. I'd like to see one of those guys fight back from what Mark did and get back in the bike as quick.Just my opinion but we really need to start fighting together inteadof against each other if we want to bring this industry back around in Canada

jacques clement
Just sayin
I think cassie is being disingenuous with her statement. She has stated that Mark can drive with anyone and anywhere. If all the comments below are too explain what "Cassie meant" ( drivers integrety, filling the whole , come on fans) then kindly explain to me why she hired Brett Miller to drive when mark got injured.N A cup day , cassie had nine horses racing on the day, 8 drives went to the miller's and one drive to Scott Zeron.I dont have anything against any drivers. Just trying to make sense of one : "says" & what one: "does" NO favours for canadians on canadian soil either.???

It is "obvious" to anyone who has followed harness racing that Cassie Colemans comments are accurate. However at least this is something the fans(bettors)can handicapp if they are choosing to wager, unlike a multitude of "other things" which sadly are occuring!!

Fans open your eyes this does happen! But i think what Cassie meant is if someone like Brian Sears was coming first over at you that you would be more inclined to let him clear than a canadian driver.

Casie is right...

This is nothing new. As a handicapper I never favour a driver from another track. Drivers who compete against each other daily give each other courtesies and in turn get courtesies extended back to them. It happens on the WEG circuit too.

Watch the start of any race and see how one of the local drivers floats out from the 6 post or beyond and finds a spot at the rail. The hole that is opened is big enough to park the Queen Mary. The out-of-towner gets parked for 3/8 of a mile.

I am not saying this is cheating. Often this happens because drivers become familiar with a colleague's style and it is advantageous to let that horse in who will later be cover for a second over trip. Sometimes a driver will open a hole in the stretch if he feels he can't win and doesn't want a colleague to get trapped. The out-of-towner doesn't seem to get the same treatment.

So Casie is right and I agree that Mark Macdonald is an excellent driver. I just wouldn't bet on him at the Meadowlands. If he drove there regularly I would.

Georg Leber-ICR Racing

I applaud Cassie for her candid comments! Given she was not misquoted or taken out of context, her comments are quite troubling.

There is a segment of Horseplayers who believe that there is a ‘buddy-buddy’ camaraderie among drivers in Harness racing which impairs the game’s integrity. Cassie’s comment, taken at face value, would suggest that she also believes this is the case.

Although Cassie is the only trainer to public state such an opinion, her perception becomes a Horseplayer’s reality. If Harness racing is to have any creditability, Cassie’s comments must be addressed by the industry-both the perception and the apparent reality…….

Coleman took Macdonald off of Sportswriter as I remember and then he came back to win the NA cup with him. I believe Coleman has stated in the past that Macdonald can drive with anyone anywhere. What has changed? What kind of favours does she expect when you are in a million dollar race? Live by the sword, die by the sword.