by Frank Carulli
February 25, 2019
Time is still on McWicked’s side.
As a 7-year-old in 2018, McWicked paced up a storm on a whirlwind North America tour that produced a 12-19 record, six stakes victories worth $250,000 or more and $1.57 million in earnings. He got a much-deserved winter break in Florida, but not before he secured a special spot in harness racing history.
McWicked was named Horse of the Year by the U.S. Harness Writers Association last Sunday at the Dan Patch Awards ceremony in Orlando, FL., becoming the oldest horse ever to win the award. He also received Canada’s highest honor – the O’Brien Award – last month to become the 11th Standardbred in 30 years to win in both countries.
He closed the year with four stakes victories at as many tracks, including a 4-length score in 1:49.3 in the $430,000 Breeders Crown Open Pace at the Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono and a 1:48 score in the TVG Open Pace at the Meadowlands.
“He was absolutely awesome,” trainer Casie Coleman said after the TVG Open Pace. “He’s been awesome all year.”
McWicked’s resume included wins in the Canadian Pacing Derby, William Haughton Memorial, Ben Franklin and Dan Rooney stakes, to name a few, and a personal-best 1:46.2 clocking in the Allerage at The Red Mile, the second fastest mile in history. Hall of Famer Brian Sears was his regular driver.
The good news for harness racing fans is that owner Ed James of SSG Stables is committed to running McWicked, a $4 million lifetime earner, this year.
McWicked received 86 votes, more than triple the amount of Horse of the Year runner-up Shartin N and a 2018 class that included five seasonal millionaires.
But Shartin N didn’t come away empty-handed. She was named Older Female Pacer of the Year for winning 19 of 24 starts and becoming the first pacing mare ever to top $1 million in a season. Tim Tetrick guided Shartin N to victory in the $270,000 Breeders Crown for trainer Jim King Jr. and co-owners Richard Poillucci and Jo Ann Looney-King.
Hambletonian winner Atlanta was named Trotter of the Year. She defeated the boys in the $1 million trotting classic August 4 at the Meadowlands and proved best in a talented 3-year-old class. Scott Zeron drove Atlanta for his father, trainer Rick Zeron, and co-owners Al and Michelle Crawford of Crawford Farms, William Holland’s Holland Racing Stable, Howard Taylor, and Brad Grant. Atlanta sold recently for a record $1.55 million.