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It was a big harness racing day for driver Brian Sears at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon. After capturing the $1 million International Trot with Cruzado Dela Noche, Sears then came back in the 11th race $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace to win with ease with McWicked. It was Mach It So (Jason Bartlett) who flew out of the starting gate to take command and then Nuclear Dragon and driver Tim Tetrick came right after Mach It So to control the pace at the first quarter in :27. As they came past the grandstand the first time, Sear came out with McWicked and started to grind his way towards the leaders at the half mile in :55.3. Following second-over was Bit Of A legend with driver Jordan Stratton. Then in the backstretch, McWicked was able to overpower Mach It So and take command with ease going to the three-quarters in 1:22.4. From there is was all McWicked as he pulled away in the stretch to win by four open lengths in 1:50.4. Bit Of A Legend was second with Evenin Of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno) third. “He always gives a great effort,” Sears said after the race. “I was OK with getting away third and I knew we would have to come first up and he just makes it look so easy. I don’t want to always come first up with him, but today he was OK. He is just so easy to drive.” A seven-year-old stallion by McArdle, it was the ninth win this year for McWicked. He is trained by Casie Coleman and owned by Ed James SSG Stable of North Boston, NY. He paid $2.90 to win as the race favorite with the scratch of Lazarus from the race on Friday. McWicked now sports 31 career wins in 90 starts and lifetime earnings of $3.500,376. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, N.Y. – When Casie Coleman drew up the plans for McWicked’s 2018 campaign, Yonkers Raceway wasn’t among the potential targets for the star pacer. In fact, no half-mile tracks were, in part because Coleman believes McWick d is better on a big track and in part because owner Ed James of S S G Stable doesn’t like to race his horses on half-mile ovals. Coleman was surprised then, when James expressed interest in racing in the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on the Yonkers International Trot undercard, especially since the timing of the race could upset McWicked’s path to the Breeders Crown. Despite the risk, Coleman changed course with McWicked to make the race, carded as the 11th of 12 on today’s program (October 13). “It wasn’t on the schedule at all. I wasn’t planning to get invited to it. It’s nice we did, obviously,” Coleman said. “My plan was to ship him home to Canada Sunday morning and have a week off to get ready for the Breeders Crown; that was the original plan that I thought was going to be perfect.  “When we got invited, you can’t turn it down. I didn’t think the owner would want to go. If the Breeders Crown goes eliminations, he’s going to be at six races in a row going into that Crown final, so it’s not something I would recommend,” she continued. “I’m really praying the Open Pace will go right to the final and then we’re perfect if that happens, but if they go elims, we’re going to be scared to have a tired horse going into the Crown final. The owner, I told him about it and he wanted to go. He said, ‘we’ll take a chance,’ so we’re going and we’ll hope for the best.” McWicked is the top earning Standardbred in North America this year with $1,053,864 in the bank. Wins in the Ben Franklin Final, Haughton Memorial, Canadian Pacing Derby, and a 1:46.2 lifetime best score in the Allerage Farms Open Pace last time out at the Red Mile October 6 earned him an invitation to the Rooney. It’s the best season the 7-year-old McArdle stallion has enjoyed since his sophomore year and has bolstered his record to 30-for-89 with $3,375,376 in career earnings.  “He was really good last year. He wasn’t this good, but he didn’t get into a lot of those big races because they went by money earned on the year and he didn’t have any money earned on the year,” Coleman said. “Now that he’s got money on his card, he’s been in all the big dances and he’s as strong now as he’s ever been, no doubt. He thinks he’s 3 again.” In his most recent start, McWicked raced off frantic fractions of :26.1 and :52.1 set by Western Fame and Heaven Rocks. He followed Filibuster Hanover around the final turn and tipped wide past three-quarters in 1:19.1. McWicked struck the front with a furlong to pace and held off parked-out rival Lazarus in the final sixteenth to win by ¾ lengths. “I couldn’t have been any happier with the way it set up. ‘Wicked’ seems to get a lot of tough trips, he’s first-over a lot. He seems to respond to it, he always races really well obviously,” Coleman said. “When I saw the fast fractions up front and he was second-over, Lazarus ended up being parked the mile, so that was to our advantage. I was really happy for the way it was setting up. “He’s been pacing some pretty big miles and that track was the fastest track I’ve seen of any track,” she continued. “That track was lightning. I was definitely expecting a big, big mile and with the fractions, it set up to go a big mile.” Despite McWicked’s torrid winning and beaten times – he’s been sub-1:50 in all but one of his 2018 starts at a mile and sub-1:49 in five – McWicked is a lazy horse in training and until recently, was a muted personality in the barn. “He’s always been a cool horse. As a 3-year-old, he was a really quiet horse. He made no noise and you would never even know he was in the barn. Now, he’s doing double duty, he’s breeding and racing, so he’s squealing and roaring and he knows he’s the boss, basically,” said Coleman, who’s trained McWicked for the bulk of his career. “There’s not many horses I’ve had as long as him except for back when I had claimers because the other ones either go to be broodmares or stallions,” she said. “He’s been around a long time. It’s pretty cool. We always call him the mascot. There’s not many mascots that are in the barn that have made $3.3 million. We call him the mascot because he’s been there forever. “To drive he’s an absolute sweetheart. If you want to go a mile in 2:25, he’ll go in 2:40. He’s very, very lazy. When you watch him race, he doesn’t want much part of the race until they’re past the half. He’s always gapped out and that’s just him,” she continued. “As a 3-year-old, he used to leave more, but this year, he’s very lazy. He wouldn’t hurt a fly, he’s a nice horse, he just squeals and roars a lot, makes a lot of noise, makes sure everybody knows he’s there.” Only $180,990 of McWicked’s career earnings have come on the half-mile track. He finished fifth in the Little Brown Jug and third in the Messenger at 3. At 5, McWicked finished third in the Molson Pace before finally winning on the half at age 6; he took a $30,000 overnight at Yonkers in his 2017 debut March 11 and won a leg of the Levy Series a month later. He finished last in the Levy Final April 22 for trainer Steve Elliot and hasn’t raced on the half since. “He gets around the half fine, he’s good-gaited. I haven’t been to the half that much with him,” Coleman said. “When I went to the Jug, I was extremely excited about McWicked. I thought he would fly over the half and he was no good there, I wasn’t happy with him, he was flat. I never really did find out what it was.  “I’m hoping he’s fine,” she continued. “I don’t see why he’ll have an issue with the half because he’s very good-gaited and he’ll get around anything, but he’s definitely not at his best on the half like he is on a big track.” McWicked drew post 2 in the Dan Rooney Pace and is the 2-1 morning line favorite with regular reinsman Brian Sears in the sulky. Nuclear Dragon is 5-2 from the inside off a front-stepping 1:50.2 score at Dayton while Endeavor to McWicked’s immediate outside enters off a similar score at Hoosier.  Bit Of A Legend, who finished second to Wiggle It Jiggleit in this race in 2015, will start from post 4 off a win in the local $44,000 Open Handicap Pace last out. Evenin Of Pleasure, Mach It So, and Always At My Place complete the lineup after the late sick scratch of Lazarus Friday morning.  “I have no idea what Brian will do on the half,” Coleman admitted. “The rail horse has a ton of speed and the three horse has a ton of speed. I don’t know what Brian will do, but as long as we get away midpack somewhere, I’m happy. I just hope that we can get our picture taken again.” Today’s card also features the $1,000,000 Yonkers International Trot and the $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot. First post time is 1 p.m. For entries to the card, click here. For more information on the International Trot and its participants, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Harness racing trainer Jimmy Takter has confirmed that Lazarus has been scratched sick from the $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace at Yonkers Raceway Saturday afternoon. “He started coughing yesterday and continued today,” Takter said. “I was not going to take any chances of hurting him. Now we can make sure he is OK for the Breeders Crown.” Lazarus was to start from post six and rival McWicked drew inside of him (post 2) for their fifth battle. The score now is tied 2-2. The two horses should battle once again in the Breeders Crown at Pocono Downs. By Steve Wolf, for Harnesslink

YONKERS, NY, Monday, October 8, 2018--Post positions have been drawn for Saturday afternoon's (Oct. 13th) pair of Yonkers Raceway $250,000 Invitationals, the Harry Harvey Trot and Dan Rooney Pace (program pages accompany). The card will also feature the rivalry of McWicked and Lazarus battling again. The Harry Harvey goes as the seventh race (post time 3:10 PM), immediately before the $1 million Yonkers International Trot @ Empire City Casino. Both are 10-horse fields (eight on the gate, two in the second tier) carded at the mile-and-a-quarter distance. Here's the field for the Harvey..1-Warrawee Roo (Dan Dube), 2-Top Flight Angel (Andy Miller), 3-Guardian Angel AS (Matt Kakaley), 4-In Secret (George Brennan), 5-Yes Mickey (Jason Bartlett), 6-Gruden (Tim Tetrick), 7- NF Happenstance (Jack Parker Jr.), 8-Sortie (Trond Smedshammer), 9-DW's NY Yank (Yannick Gingras), 10-Homidice Hunter (Brian Sears). The Rooney, going the penultimate 11th race (post time 5 PM), drew out as such..1-Nuclear Dragon (Tetrick), 2-McWicked (Sears), 3-Endeavor (Tetrick also listed), 4-Bit of a Legend N (Jordan Stratton), 5-Evenin' of Pleasure (Joe Bongiorno), 6-Lazarus N (Gingras), 7-Mach it So (Bartlett), 8-Always at My Place (Brennan). Saturday's race schedule... Race 1 - 1 PM Race 2 - 1:20 PM Race 3 - 1:40 PM Race 4 - 2 PM Race 5 - 2:20 PM Race 6 - 2:40 PM Race 7 - 3:10 PM $250,000 Harry Harvey Invitational Trot (1¼ miles) Race 8 - 3:40 PM $1 million Yonkers International Trot @ Empire City Casino (1¼ miles) Race 9 - 4:10 PM Open Trot (1¼ miles) Race 10 - 4:40 PM Trot (1¼ miles) Race 11 - 5 PM $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace Race 12 - 5:20 PM The 40th International Trot is to be drawn Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 9th) at a midtown luncheon. A reminder that races 7 and 8 are part of a special all-stakes Pick 4 with Belmont Park (Pebbles and Floral Park). Races 7 through 10 are simulcast to the French-hubbed audience. by Frank Drucker, for Yonkers Raceway

Yonkers, NY --- With a three-wide sweeping rush, All Bets Off (Matt Kakaley) got to the finish line first by a slim margin in the harness racing $250,000 Dan Rooney Invitational Pace on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 14) at Yonkers Raceway in 1:51.4. All Bets Are Off is trained by Ron Burke for owners Burke Racing Stable, Weaver Bruscemi, Baldachino and Pan Hellenic Stables. It was his 27th career win and pushed his lifetime earnings to $2,834,832. Bit Of A Legend N (Jordan Stratton) grabbed the lead at first call, getting to the quarter in :26.4, with race favorite Sintra trailing him. By the :55.3 half, Bit Of A Legend A (Jordan Stratton) still had the lead but was soon overtaken by Somewhere In LA (Jason Bartlett) who had the lead at the 1:23.1 three-quarters. With a cavalry charge down the homestretch, Keystone Velocity (Daniel Dube) went three-wide to chase down the leaders and grab the lead at the head of the stretch. But All Bets Off was coming fastest of all and got up on the outside to just nip All Bets Off at the wire. Wining driver Matt Kakaley said he had no fear of timing the wire just right. “That was perfect, it worked out great," he said. "I think he likes it that way (accelerating late in the race), it’s worked good the last two weeks and the trip just was perfect today. I was pretty confident (he would get to the wire in time) it was working out good for him. Shannon Murphy, assistant trainer for the Burke Stable, was similarly confident. “I thought he’d get there; he likes that. If I owned him maybe it would be tough on my heart. Breeders Crown is next for him.”   by Ellen Harvey, Harness Racing Communications 

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