11/13/2014 12:05PM

Meadowlands: Sears adds McWicked to powerful Crown "Arsenal"

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Michael Lisa
Brian Sears drives McWicked, In The Arsenal and Habitat among his top contenders on Saturday.

The fortunes of the sport’s leading catch-drivers are virtually impossible to track. Take for example Brian Sears. Arguably the best of the best, Sears had a choice to make earlier this year that proved difficult.

“I drove J K Endofanera in the Governor’s Cup last year and I thought I had to stick with him,” said Sears, explaining why prior to this year’s North America Cup he went with the Ron Burke-trained son of Artsplace.

Before the North America Cup, trainer Casie Coleman had Sears test-drive her leading three-year-old pacing candidate McWicked in an overnight event at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The son of McArdle put in a powerful performance that indeed impressed Sears very much.

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“He’s a very nice colt with a good mouth,” Sears said, describing McWicked.

On Saturday night, thanks to many changes in the driving universe and the fact that McWicked’s regular driver David Miller has opted for the supplemental entry Always B Miki instead, Sears is reunited with McWicked.

McWicked drew post three in the second and arguably lighter $25,000 Breeders Crown elimination at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. With over $1 million earned this season, McWicked is the richest colt of the 16 entered in this year’s sophomore Breeders Crown event. On the board in 17 of his 19 starts, McWicked is fresh off a third-place finish in the Matron last Thursday, a race that he arguably raced as well as any in the field but lacked any kind of racing luck.

McWicked will face Jug winner Limelight Beach (post 8) and Cane Pace champion Lyonssomewhere (post 4) in the field of eight.

The decision of Coleman to replace David Miller with Sears was probably made easier in that the Sears-owned Heavenly Bride, a Breeders Crown elim starter on Friday in the two-year-old filly pacing division, is trained by Coleman.

Sears will pilot the overall favorite to capture the juvenile pacing colt Crown title in In The Arsenal. The American Ideal-sired colt was given no favors in the draw landing post 10 in the second (race 11) of two eliminations on Saturday.

“He’s a good strong colt,” said Sears of In The Arsenal. “He’s very willing. Sometimes a little too eager, but he’s becoming more manageable. He’s a nice colt.”

The driver appeared to be playing it a little close to the vest despite the recent success he’s had behind the Kelvin Harrison trained colt. A $7,500 buyback of Mike Parisi’s White Birch farm just over a year ago at Harrisburg, In The Arsenal has shown speed and stamina in capturing four straight stakes races as the championship season winds down.

Trainer Ron Burke has three colts in this division facing In The Arsenal, with Lyons Levi Lewis, a runner-up from post seven in the Matron, a colt that could cause plenty of trouble. In the Matron with Ron Pierce in the bike, the colt showed no signs of being able to read the tote board while rocketing to the top in the opening turn despite lofty odds of 121-1. Lyons Levi Lewis followed In The Arsenal around the track and though no match late, did keep pace in the brisk 1:51 mile.

Sears also picked up the drive on Habitat, a seven-time winner in 11 career races. Sears gained the assignment on the rookie trotting colt when regular driver Yannick Gingras chose Pinkman in the second race elimination. Habitat starts from post six as the second choice on the morning line.

The top five colts in each of the seven Crown eliminations on Saturday (except the Open Trot--top six) advance to the November 22 finals with race winners assured of drawing for the inside post positions.

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