by Frank Carulli
November 6, 2018
With one more powerful brush in the $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace, S S G Stable’s McWicked finally reached the top of the harness racing mountain in 2018.
His 4-length victory in 1:49.3 at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono was as decisive as the resume he built to become the top-ranked Standardbred in the Hambletonian Society/Breeders Crown Top 10 poll for the first time this year.
McWicked launched his bid before the half-mile mark, put away Australian wonder horse Lazarus N before the ¾-mile pole and cruised to his 10th win in 17 starts this year. He also won the Canadian Pacing Derby, William Haughton Memorial, Dan Rooney, among other stakes, and paced a personal-best 1:46.2 in the Allerage at The Red Mile to become the sport’s top earner this year with a $1.3 million bankroll.
Coupled with Hambletonian winner Atlanta’s second-place finish in the Breeders Crown 3-Year-Old Filly Trot, McWicked took over the top spot and could have stamped himself the leading Horse of the Year candidate.
“He’s real easy to drive and he does everything you want,” said Hall of Fame driver Brian Sears.
Trainer Casie Coleman announced last week that McWicked will race in 2019 as an 8-year-old. But first things first: he probably will run in the TVG Pace later this month at the Meadowlands to try and maintain his No. 1 ranking.
McWicked wasn’t the only impressive winner in the Breeders Crown finals for older pacers and mares, as the following recap can attest.
$270,000 MARE PACE: Shartin N set a single-season earnings record for a pacing mare when she went wire-to-wire for her 18th win this season. Driver Tim Tetrick hustled the 5-year-old through :54.3 and 1:23 middle fractions and Shartin N fought off a first-over challenge by runner-up Caviart Ally to prevail in 1:52. Jim King trains Shartin N for owners Richard Pollucci and Jo Ann Looney-King, who supplemented the daughter of Tintin in America into the Mare Pace and watched her become a millionaire in 2018.
$500,000 OPEN TROT: George Napolitano Jr., an 11-time driving champion at Pocono Downs, won his first Breeders Crown race when Homicide Hunter ($10.20) drove through the passing lane to edge away from pace-setter Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller) to win in 1:52.3. Homicide Hunter, who earlier this year trotted the fastest mile ever (1:48.4) is trained by Chris Oakes and owned by Crawford Farms Racing of New York. “Wow. Words can’t even explain it,” said Napolitano. “I usually win the four (thousand dollar) claimers, not the Breeders Crown.
$250,000 MARE TROT: Determination’s Emoticon Hanover rallied 4-wide for driver Daniel Dube to repeat as a Breeders Crown champion. Ariana G set a fast pace and Ice Attraction ranged up to challenge before Emoticon Hanover swung out for the stretch drive and surged past both rivals to win in 1;54.1. “Right now, she’s at the top of her game,” Dube said of the Luc Blais trainee.