McWicked debuts in Hoosier State in search of Dan Patch glory

Story By: Kim French, for Hoosier Park Racing & Casino

 ANDERSON, Ind.—August 10, 2017—When a horse collects a Dan Patch and O’Brien award as a 3-year-old, it is rather unusual for he or she to remain in competition as a 6-year-old, especially when that animal is a stallion, yet McWicked, who is also a world champion, is an exception to that general rule. The son of McArdle may not exactly be in the spotlight at this juncture of the season, but will endeavor to demonstrate why it should be shining upon him after he attempts to add a triumph in the $325,000 Dan Patch Stakes on Friday (Aug. 11) at Hoosier Park to his lengthy list of achievements.

“It’s great to have him back in the barn,” said his trainer Casie Coleman. “We have a good post position and are hoping for nice weather, plus we have David (Miller) back driving him. He’s fit and sound; he’s in good shape and we are looking forward to racing him Friday night.”

McWicked will engage in his Dan Patch trophy pursuit from post position three with his Hall of Fame pilot holding the lines. The stallion is the third selection on the morning line at 5/1 in the evenly matched field of 10 and will leave alongside the favorite in $2.4 earner All Bets Off (post two, Matt Kakaley, 7/2) as well as Anderson’s beloved Breeders Crown champion Freaky Feet Pete (post four, Trace Tetrick, 8/1). The field also includes 2015 North America Cup victor Wakizashi Hanover (post 10, Tim Tetrick. 9/2), recent Sam McKee Memorial winner Check Six (post nine, Yannick Gingras, 4/1) and 2015 Cane Pace winner Dealt A Winner (post one, Aaron Merriman, 15/1).

“I haven’t driven him since Pocono (fourth in Ben Franklin elim on June 24),” Miller said. “But right when I started driving him this year up in Canada again I was very happy with him. Obviously he was just super his 3-year-old season, but it seems like he is returning to his old form.”

Which is nothing short of superb.

Purchased by Ed James, for $210,000 at the 2013 Standardbred Horse Sale, McWicked commenced his career at age two in Julie Miller’s shedrow. The then-colt turned in a debut campaign that consisted of a record of 10-3-5-1 and $179,617 earned.

As a sophomore he was sent to James’ regular successful Florida trainer, Jim McDonald and then offered to Coleman to train. That season McWicked was in the spotlight as he collected $1.47 in purse money and won the $400,000 Adios final, the $531,250 Breeders Crown final and the $301,560 Progress Pace.

For his accomplishments he was honored as the sport’s 2014 Dan Patch and O’Brien Award 3-year-old pacing colt champion.

“I have been in this business 63 years,” James said earlier this year. “I have had some nice horses, but he is the best horse I have ever owned.”

Although expectations for him were naturally quite high in 2015 and 2016, McWicked battled breathing issues from the end of his 4-year-old year until this winter, which required medical attention.

From 14 trips to the gate in the last two seasons, the stallion did not enter the winner’s enclosure but did collect more than $108,000 from three second and four third place finishes.

McWicked returned to the races and winner’s circle on Feb. 12 under the watchful eye of McDonald in Florida and he was steered by Miller. His time of 1:50.4 served notice the stallion intended on making up for lost time, now that his health issues were remedied.

“When a horse has a couple million in earnings you know no matter what they have been doing something right throughout their career,” Miller said.

Steve Elliott, who was entrusted with the horse during the late winter/early spring of 2016, took McWicked to Yonkers Raceway where he won a non-winners event on March 11 in preparation for the Levy Series. After finishing seventh and sixth in the first two legs, the stallion was second on two occasions and won a division prior to finishing eighth in the final.

From there, McWicked was sixth and fourth in an preferred and invitational at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and the Meadowlands. He returned to Canada on June 3 when he captured a preferred at Mohawk Racetrack and then the Gold Cup on North America night over the same oval.

Since failing to make the Ben Franklin final at Pocono, the stallion has appeared in four preferred events at Mohawk, with a win, a second and two fourth place finishes.

He, however, had to contend with some circumstances that did impact his performance.

“In one of his races he was locked in and had no chance and another he came out of sick,” Coleman said. “But he’s great now. He’s been staked to everything, but unfortunately it’s been tough to get him in things because of his earnings from the last two years. For the Dan Patch they go on lifetime earnings so we thought this would be a good spot for him. Also, if everything goes well it’s on to the fall stakes and hopefully the Breeders Crown back at Hoosier in October.”

Miller anticipates McWicked will give a good account of himself in Indiana.

“This horse has never had a problem with any track he has ever encountered,” he said. “For him surface or track size has never mattered. He can do it anywhere as he shown throughout his career. He is just such a good-gaited horse that he can handle pretty much anything and after racing him in Canada it seems like he is coming back to himself.”

James was quite excited to witness his horse earlier this year and certainly will be viewing McWicked’s Indiana engagement with the same enthusiasm.

“I bought the horse to race,” he said in March. “I never got in this business to make money. I worked and still run my business (SSG Gloves) primarily by myself. I don’t take partners on horses because I like to control my own fate and I’ve been divorced twice, so that shows I’m not meant to have a partner.

“I’m 85 years old and by the time I could watch his foals race I would be 90 and let’s face it, I might not be here then. Horses like this don’t come around very often; some people never get one and I don’t have another lifetime to find another one.”

The 2017 Dan Patch field, in post position order with named driver and trainer includes:

PP-Horse-Trainer-Driver-Morning Line
1. Dealt A Winner-Mark Silva-Aaron Merriman-15/1
2. All Bets Off-Ron Burke-Matt Kakaley-7/2
3. McWicked-Casie Coleman-David Miller-5/1
4. Freaky Feet Pete-Marty Rheinheimer-Trace Tetrick-8/1
5. Manhattan Beach-Walter Haynes Jr.-Sam Widger-30/1
6. Dr J Hanover-Tony Alagna-John De Long-10/1
7. Rock N’ Roll World-Jeff Cullipher-John De Long-10/1
8. Rockin Ron-Ron Burke-Ricky Macomber Jr.-6/1
9. Check Six-Ron Burke-Yannick Gingras-4/1
10. Wakizashi Hanover-Jo Ann Looney-King-Tim Tetrick-9/2