CAMPBELLVILLE, Ont. — McWicked tamed The Wonder From Down Under while Crazy Wow earned a stunning win Saturday night.
McWicked overtook heavy favourite Lazarus in deep stretch to record the upset victory in the $600,000 Canadian Pacing Derby at Woodbine Mohawk Park. Then Jody Jamieson of Moffat, Ont., drove 31/1 longshot Crazy Wow to a shocking decision in the $651,000 Maple Leaf Trot.
Driver Yannick Gingras of Sorel, Que., took Lazarus to the lead before the half-mile mark and had the 1/5 favourite in front coming down the stretch. But McWicked, the 7/2 second pick driven by American Dave Miller, made a late move on the outside to pass the New Zealand-bred Lazarus and record the win in 1:49 flat.
"You can't take that away from him, a first-over grind into Lazarus," Miller said after his third career Pacing Derby victory. "I wasn't too confident around the last turn, but I got into the stretch and my horse felt really strong.
"I asked him and he just did the rest."
Trainer Casie Coleman of Cambridge, Ont., earned her first Pacing Derby win.
"When he was first over coming onto Lazarus, I wasn't overly happy, but it worked out great," Coleman said. "Dave said the scary part is how easy he did it ... he was just absolutely phenomenal and had a lot left.
"I've always wanted to win this race. I was second with Betterthancheddar (2012 behind Gingras and Foiled Again) and never seemed able to win it. It's good to win it and finally get it done."
Lazarus was second in the 10-horse field with Split The House taking third.
"He raced good, just a little tired finishing," said Gingras of Lazarus's performance. "He needs some racing.
"The other horse is a good horse and went a big mile and you've got to give him credit, but I think my horse needs a couple starts."
Lazarus dominated all the pre-race talk and with good reason. The brilliant six-year-old, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Jimmy Takter, remains the third-richest standardbred ever Down Under, having earned more than US$2.6 million after winning 35 of 45 starts.
Dubbed "The Wonder from Down Under," Lazarus was impressive in his American debut. An overwhelming 1/2 favourite, Lazarus captured the US$325,000 Dan Patch Stakes at Hoosier Park on Aug. 10 in 1:48.4 ahead of Split The House and McWicked.
Lazarus's win was the lead story on one of New Zealand's nightly television newscasts. Australian broadcaster Greg Hayes also covered the Indiana race, which trended on social media across Australia, New Zealand and the U.S.
Sky Sports aired Saturday night's races, including a special half-hour uninterrupted broadcast of the Canadian Pacing Derby, on Sky Racing 1.
But racing fans Down Under saw seven-year-old McWicked earned his seventh win in 11 starts this year and the 29th of his career.
McWicked paid $9.70, $2.70 and $240 while Lazarus returned $2.10 and $2.10. Split The House paid $3.
What made McWicked's win even more remarkable is Coleman said the horse was coming off a very recent injury.
"He's been off a few weeks and I never told anybody, but he's coming off a quarter crack (foot ailment)," she said. "That's the reason he was scratched from the qualifier."
Coleman expects McWicked and Lazarus to square off again this season.
"I was having fun without Lazarus, it was a little bit easier competition," she said. "There's going to be some exciting racing.
"We're paid into everything and I'm sure he's paid into everything. I'm sure we'll see each other a lot coming up this summer."
Meanwhile in the Maple Leaf Trot, Jamieson had Crazy Wow sitting third after three-quarters of a mile. But Jamieson, driving Crazy Wow for the first time, took the horse to the inside and from there it was clear sailing to the finish line in 1:51.1.
"I've watched him race plenty of times, but I didn't realize what kind of horse he was," Jamieson said. "That was a big trip and he made it look real easy.
"Around the last turn I was following what I figured was the best horse in the race (Will Take Charge) and with Ariana G out there I'm thinking, 'I'm going to be third maybe at the very worst.' A slim lane opened up and I jammed myself through there ... once I got through there clean there was never a doubt that he was going to win."
Marion Marauder finished second with Ariana G third. Crazy Wow returned $64.20, $19.20 and $8.80 while Marion Marauder paid $3.30 and $2.60. Ariana G paid $3.40.
Crazy Wow earned his second in win in seven starts this season while racing barefoot (without shoes).
"The track was amazing so it was an easy decision," said trainer Marcus Melander. "I know he's got an extra gear when I pull the shoes."
Action was delayed in the third race when Ali caught a shoe and fell. Luckily, the horse appeared fine but driver Pat Lachance of St. Augustine, Que., left in an ambulance with a broken left leg.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press