09/16/2014 3:01PM

Little Brown Jug: Coleman goes for Jug trifecta with McWicked

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Derick Giwner
McWicked and trainer Casie Coleman.

It’s happened several times recently. Casie Coleman leaves for the Delaware County Fair in central Ohio and ends up elsewhere. She doesn’t mind, though. In fact, she hopes it happens again.

After all, there’s nothing like ending up on Cloud Nine.

Coleman has won the last two editions of the Little Brown Jug, the second jewel in harness racing’s Pacing Triple Crown, and on Thursday will try to become the first trainer in history to win three in a row when she sends McWicked into the $647,500 Little Brown Jug presented by Fazoli’s at the Delaware County Fair.

The race, offering the richest purse in its 69-year history, attracted 16 3-year-old male pacers, a number reduced to 15 early Tuesday when Cammikey was scratched due to illness. The field was divided into two first-heat elimination divisions and the top four finishers from each group will advance to the second round. If a first-heat winner also is victorious in the second heat, he is declared the Little Brown Jug champion. If not, there will be a race off between the three winners of the heats.

McWicked will start from post No. 1 in the second opening-round division with regular driver David Miller and is the 7-5 morning line favorite to win his heat.

“No one has won three in a row before and we’re going to give it our best shot and see what happens,” said Coleman, who trains McWicked for owner Ed James’ S S G Stables. “It’s a thrill for me just to be in it each year, let alone have a shot to win it. If we actually won it again, that would be pretty awesome. It would be surreal.”

Coleman, a 34-year-old from Canada, won the Little Brown Jug with Michael’s Power in 2012 and Vegas Vacation in 2013. 

“It’s hard to say what you’re feeling at the time,” Coleman said. “It’s just you’re on Cloud Nine for quite a long time.”

McWicked has won nine of 13 races, finished second on three occasions, and earned $908,266 this year. He has won seven of his last eight starts, including the Max C. Hempt Memorial and Delvin Miller Adios. He enters the Jug off a win in the Pennsylvania Sire Stakes championship on Sept. 7 at Harrah’s Philadelphia.

“He’s been real good,” Coleman said. “I trained him myself a couple trips over the weekend and he was very good, I was extremely happy. His blood is clean, he seems healthy and sound.

“He went a trip (at Delaware on Monday morning) and he got over the track great. He seems to have settled into the Jug Barn without any problems. He seems happy. He’s pretty easy on himself. He doesn’t stress me out too much because he’s a pretty easy horse to take care of.”

While Coleman is looking to make history with McWicked, Miller is hoping to add to his total of Jug victories as well. Miller has won the Jug three times and could tie Stanley Dancer and Ron Pierce for second place on the career wins list. Billy Haughton and Mike Lachance share the top spot with five victories.

McWicked’s first-heat division also includes Meadowlands Pace winner He’s Watching and the second- through fourth-place finishers from the PaSS championship, Limelight Beach, Somewhere In L A, and Sometimes Said.

“We hit the toughest division by far, but we got the rail so we can’t really complain,” Coleman said. “We’ve got David Miller, who knows Delaware better than anybody, I think, in the bike. I think things are looking good. We’ve had pretty good luck.”

Coleman’s success at Delaware hasn’t been limited to the Little Brown Jug. She won the filly companion race, the Jugette, in 2010 with Western Silk and in 2011 with Idyllic.

This year, she sends Also Encouraging and Someislandsomwhere into Wednesday’s $298,100 Jugette. Also Encouraging drew post seven in the first of three eliminations while Someislandsomwhere got post four in the third division. The top three from each group advances to the same-day final.

“Also Encouraging doesn’t have a whole lot of gate speed, which isn’t a good thing for the Jugette,” Coleman said. “But she’s been racing phenomenal all season. She’s been pretty much top three every time she goes behind the gate. She gives it everything she’s got every time she goes out there.

“Someislandsomwhere hit kind of a tough division. If anyone watches her races, it’s unbelievable how bad her luck has been. She’s due to get some good luck here. She’s been racing great, it’s just one thing after another with her and bad luck. I’m hoping she can come around.

“I realize we’re kind of longshots coming in, but we’re going to give it a whirl.”

Following are the first-round elimination heats for the Little Brown Jug in post order with drivers, trainers, and morning line odds.

Elim One: 1. Let’s Drink On It, Tyler Smith, Joe Seekman, 5-1; 2. Winds Of Change, Brett Miller, Linda Toscano, 8-1; 3. Three Of Clubs, Doug McNair, Gregg McNair, 10-1; 4. On Golden Ponder, John Campbell, Bob McIntosh, 7-2; 5. At Press Time, Matt Kakaley, Ron Burke, 8-1; 6. Beat The Drum, Ron Pierce, Staffan Lind, 15-1; 7. Lyonssomewhere, Yannick Gingras, Jimmy Takter, 5-2; 8. Rediscovery, Chris Page, Ben Davis, 20-1.

Elim Two: 1. McWicked, David Miller, Casie Coleman, 7-5; 2. Limelight Beach, Yannick Gingras, Ron Burke, 6-1; 3. Avalanche Hanover, Aaron Merriman, Ron Potter, 12-1; 4. Capital Account, Ron Pierce, Jimmy Takter, 10-1; 5. Somewhere In L A, Brett Miller, Jimmy Takter, 7-2; 6. He’s Watching, Tim Tetrick, Dave Menary, 5-2; 7. Sometimes Said, John Campbell, Jim Campbell, 10-1; 8. Cammikey, scratched.

-Courtesy of Harness Racing Communications, a division of the U.S. Trotting Association. For more information, please visit www.ustrotting.com