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McWicked To Defend 'Derby' Title

Published: August 29, 2019 2:10 pm ET

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McWicked, the richest pacing stallion in harness racing history with over $4.5 million earned, returns to Woodbine Mohawk Park this Saturday (Aug. 31) to defend his title in the $525,000 Canadian Pacing Derby.

Owned by Ed James’ S S G Stables, McWicked sat atop the free-for-all pacing ranks last season with a campaign consisting of 12 wins from 19 starts and earnings of over $1.6 million. The son of McArdle also overcame a season-long challenge by besting Lazarus N in progress to a Horse of the Year title — making him the oldest recipient of the honour in the sport’s history.

While McWicked won in his seasonal debut this year, he has since mostly only collected cheques in his division’s top events — losing thrice to Canadian Pacing Derby favourite Lather Up. However, Coleman has only seen improvement from her stable’s star.

“He’s always been a great horse, but I think the competition this year is the toughest it’s ever been yet,” Coleman said. “Lazarus was a good horse no doubt, but I was never one that lived up to how much they hyped that horse up — he was a very good horse but I always thought I was better than him.

“Basically, I don’t think Lather Up and Lazarus are in the same league,” Coleman also said. “I think Lather Up is a complete freak and I am scared of him — I think on a smaller track I have a better chance to beat him if he doesn’t pace the turns so well, but on a big track that horse is a beast. Whereas I never went to the gate thinking I couldn’t beat Lazarus; I always thought I could beat Lazarus. And with Lather Up I realize that I need a lot of things to go my way and a lot of things to not go his way in order to beat him.”

McWicked, who Coleman said is training as good as he has ever trained, faces a field composed mostly of four-year-olds. He will rematch others who have beaten him this year, including This Is The Plan (post one) and Jimmy Freight (post four). McWicked starts from the outermost post in the field of nine with David Miller in the bike.

“I wanted to get sick when I saw the draw,” Coleman said. “The nine-hole in that field ... he’s got his work cut out for him. That’s going to be a tough race. If he had an inside post, I’d feel a whole lot more confident, but the nine-hole is going to be tough, especially since Wicked doesn’t normally leave a whole lot. He’ll definitely be giving it all he’s got. It’s just that in this class of horses, everybody can come home in :25 and a piece and :26. So we need to hope he’s not spotted too far off coming down the lane.

“But saying that, the horse is in great shape,” Coleman also said. “He’s healthy, sound, feeling great, couldn’t have trained any better this morning. Everything seems very, very good with the horse. I just really wish we could’ve drawn a little better but now we need a little bit of racing luck to work that way.”

While McWicked faces a challenge Saturday night, the aged dynamo could have a chance to claim stakes glory as a nine-year-old.

“He’s sound, healthy, sharp, you would never know the horse is eight years old,” Coleman said. “As I’ve always said, if he was my horse, I would be taking one of these offers to go to stud because I just know how much money these horses make when they go to stud.

“But his owner is bound and determined; if [McWicked’s] racing top level and he’s healthy, he wants to keep racing. It’s great for harness racing that a horse like him can stay on the track this long.”

The Canadian Pacing Derby is carded as race eight on Saturday’s $1.6 million card at Woodbine Mohawk Park. The $525,000 Maple Leaf Trot joins the ‘Pacing Derby’ as a co-main event. Post time is 7:10 p.m.

To view Saturday's harness racing entries and program pages (courtesy TrackIT), click the following links: Entries | Program Pages.

(Woodbine Communications)


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