MEADOW LANDS – When Ed James asked Casie Coleman to train a talented horse by the name of McWicked, she hesitated. At the time, Coleman was slicing her stable nearly in half and she didn’t want to take on more horses.
But James was a friend and owner of SSG Stables in North Boston, N.Y., so she couldn’t turn down his request.
On a clear Saturday afternoon over a dry track, McWicked, with David Miller in the sulky, grabbed the lead early from the nine-horse field and came home strong to win the $400,000 Adios for 3-year-olds colt and geldings at The Meadows Racetrack.
McWicked, which went off at 1-5, crossed first in a time of 1:49.1, a length ahead of Somewhere In LA and Brett Miller, David’s cousin. Cammikey, driven by Brian Zendt and owned by Nan and Wendy Cameron of Washington, finished third.
McWicked’s victory was notable for a couple reasons. Favorites have not fared well in the Adios. Only seven favorites in the past 23 years have captured the Delvin Miller Pace for the Orchids. And Casie Coleman became the first female trainer to win this race.
“It’s pretty cool, but the way I look at it, I get the woman question all the time,” said Coleman, who is from British Columbia but cut her teeth in the sport in Alberta. “I just look at it that I’m another trainer. Whether it be female or male. It’s pretty awesome to win; that’s for sure.”
Coleman, named Canada’s Trainer of the Year five times, had sliced the number of horses from 140 to 79.
“I was concentrating on top quality over quantity,” Coleman said. “It was my choice. I just decided not to take on any more horses or owners. With McWicked … Ed James came up to me and asked if I would train McWicked. I couldn’t say no to him. It was a good thing I took him.”
McWicked overtook At Press Time shortly past the gate and never trailed after that. Somewhere In LA made a short but futile attempt to catch him at the top of the stretch.
McWicked made the quarter in 26.3, the half at 55.4 and the three-quarter pole at 1:22.3.
“I was really surprised that there wasn’t a couple more that pushed off,” said Miller. “He doesn’t have to be at the front. I was more afraid of getting off fourth, coming first over. I wanted to get back to the lead if it was easy enough, and it was easy enough. When I got to half, I felt pretty confident. He always feels pretty confident.”
This was Miller’s second Adios victory. He drove Shadow Play across first in the 2009 Adios, held at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs because The Meadows was undergoing renovations.
“He was the dead favorite, and that’s the way David raced him,” Coleman said. “You can race him anyway. He prefers coming off the helmet. Everyone prefers to be the second over, but that’s the trip he likes too. He’s good at the front too, obviously. When Dave moved him around to the front, and we got to the half in 55.4, I was pretty confident.”
The victory was worth $200,000 to McWicked and pushed his earnings to $618,830 for the year.
“He’s a great big sound horse. He’s got a great gait in him,” Coleman said. “If I were to change something on the horse, I don’t know what it would be. He makes my job easy, because he doesn’t have many complications for me to tend to every day.”
McWicked will race in two Pennsylvania Sires Stakes – one in Chester Aug. 7 and at The Meadows Aug. 29 – before the PASS finals in Philadelphia Sept. 7. The last leg on the trip will be the Little Brown Jug Sept. 18.
“He’s done everything we asked of him from behind the gate, done everything Dave asked of him and everything I asked of him,” Coleman said. “We’re pretty happy with him so far.”