08/12/2014 3:23PM

Northfield: Miller back in Ohio with the impressive McWicked

Derick Giwner
Ohio native David Miller has won over 11,000 races in his career.

Who says you can’t go home?

For driver David Miller, who will steer McWicked in the inaugural $400,000 Carl Milstein Memorial for 3-year-old male pacers on Friday at Northfield Park, heading back to Ohio always brings back memories.

“When I show up at Northfield, I always think of my dad and grandfather,” said Miller. “I used to hang out there when I was a kid and watch them race. It is kind of like going back to your grandmother’s house.”

A native of Columbus, Ohio, Miller couldn’t be happier with the recent resurgence in harness racing brought on by casino legislation. “Ohio loves horse racing. It’s great that the fans are finally getting to see the good horses firsthand,” said Miller.

Recent Hall of Fame inductee Miller returns home with a special horse in McWicked. The Casie Coleman-trained colt was a surprise entrant in the race. The S S G stables elected to plunk down $34,000 ($30K supplement fee and $4,000 entry) to have a chance to race for the $200,000 winner’s share.

[DRF HARNESS: Watch McWicked in the Milstein Memorial and the entire Northfield Friday card - LIVE on DRF!]

McWicked is riding a five-race win streak that includes triumphs in the $500,000 Hempt Memorial at Pocono Downs and the $400,000 Adios at The Meadows. The son of McArdle-Western Sahara won his last start, a Pennsylvania Sire Stakes race at Philly, easily by just over four lengths in a nifty 1:48 4/5 and already sports a lifetime mark of 1:47 3/5 set in the Hempt.

“I feel like he has gotten better and a little stronger,” said Miller of the colt’s progression since he took over regular driving duties in late May.”He’s as good as any (colt) out there.

“One of his best qualities is his manners. He probably has some of the best of any horse I’ve ever driven. He’s never one to be too aggressive and is easy to control,” said Miller.

While Miller admits his job was made a bit easier by McWicked drawing post one in the field of eight, the likely overwhelming 3-5 morning line favorite still faces a strong group of sophomores with enough early firepower to mix it up in the opening quarter on the usually speed-favoring half-mile surface at Northfield.

All Bets Off finished a good third behind McWicked in the Hempt and prepped nicely for the Milstein with a track record 1:51 2/5 victory at Batavia Downs on July 27. The Ron Burke trainee followed that up with a 1:52 1/5 qualifying win at Philly last week. All Bets Off is the 7/2 second-choice from post two with Matt Kakaley listed to drive.

Tellitlikeitis hasn’t won a race since early June but certainly possesses the early speed to give McWicked some early trouble. The son of Well Said has finished second in the rich North America Cup and third in the Meadowlands Pace. He will start from post four with Brett Miller in the bike.

Trying to step back up to face top foes is Luck Be Withyou. The former standout 2-year-old has been an outsider against the best in his second year of racing but is riding a three-race winning run for trainer Chris Oakes. Ron Pierce is listed to drive Luck Be Withyou from post five.

The 15-race card at Northfield Park kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and features a $10,000 guaranteed pick four that concludes with the Milstein in race 11. The wager commences with a $100,000 consolation that includes National Debt, Western Vintage and Limelight Beach. 

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horseraceguy101 More than 1 year ago
I didn't read all of this, but I just wanted to comment saying, while it's great the casino is there now, and better horses are seeming to show up for the big races. There does seem to still be less people going to Northfield even for the big races. I'm only 21 but I remember going when I was younger to the battle and other big races, where the place was packed full. This year the Battle attracted more people than on a regular racing day, but compared to even just 10-15 years ago. it was a small crowd. It did rain though so maybe that had something to do with it. I just miss going on the big race days at Northfield park where it seemed like everyone was there. Hopefully better horses start racing on the regular race days there once the purses go up even more. of course then it'll be harder to handicap maybe I don't want lol. can't wait to hopefully go Friday!