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Trainer Casie Coleman switching her gait to the trot
Casie Coleman, a three-time Little Brown Jug winner who has won most of the major pacing stakes in North America, is trying her hand at something new in 2017. She will train a pair of trotters for the first time in her career.
The 36-year-old Coleman showed up at the Lexington Selected sale in the Fall hoping to find an Ontario Sire Stakes trotting colt and filly to “play around with,” but the plan didn’t develop as laid out.
“I couldn’t find any (O.S.S. horses) in my budget, so I was just walking around and wound up sitting right in front of Andrew Harris and he said, ‘Why aren’t you bidding on this colt?’ I didn’t even have my book (sales catalog) open, so I quickly flipped to the page while they were about to drop the hammer. I looked at all of the NY Sire Stakes horses with Andrew, so I was familiar with them. I bid $32,000 and got him,” remembered Coleman about her purchase of Wanna Hall, a three-quarter brother to Hambletonian Oaks and Breeders Crown winning filly Wild Honey.
Along with a Muscles Yankee-sired filly she also purchased for $32,000, Coleman thinks she lucked into a strong pair of trotters in her first attempt with training on that gait. “It is crazy how good they are training,” said Coleman, who admits she doesn’t have a good frame of reference and has been leaning on others for feedback. “David Miller trained with us a couple of weeks ago and said they were really nice, and Brad Kramer and Steve Condren also had positive comments about them.”
Although she was originally looking at the trotting duo as strong New York Sire Stakes
horses, their progress has led Coleman to fully stake both horses. “I even put them
in the Hambletonian, Oaks and Breeders Crown. I wasn’t expecting to stake them like that,” chuckled Coleman.
Of course, Coleman has paid the bills over the years training pacers and has a knack for finding champions. In 2016 she conditioned 3-year-old Pacing Colt of the Year Betting Line to a 15-14-1-0 record and over $1.4 million in earnings.
This year Coleman has a pair of returning 3-year-olds with stakes potential and a bunch of 2-year-olds among the 21 under her care. Looking to make headway in the 3-year-old colt pacing division is Ideal Wheel and amongst the sophomore fillies, Candlelight Dinner.
“Both started out really good and ended the year not so good, which isn’t ideal,” said Coleman.
“I sent them both to a clinic in New York and they scoped their stomachs for about a week. It turns out they both had bad stomach ulcers, which surprised me because I treat all of my horses for that.”
After the clinic visit in mid November, Coleman was hoping for smooth sailing but had to alter plans. “Both horses lost weight instead of gaining weight during their time off and I wasn’t pleased, so I brought them back around the first of January,” said Coleman. Back under Coleman’s watchful eye at her Florida winter base, the pair began to gain weight and were down to 2:02 training miles as of the first week in April. The plan is to ship them to her racing headquarters in Canada on April 18 and qualify in early May.
“I’m really happy with both of them right now. They are pretty much staked to everything this year,” said Coleman.
While her 3-year-olds come with a bit more clarity in terms of ability, Coleman is also high on her younger set.
“Fingers-crossed, but I’m extremely happy about my 2-year-olds,” said Coleman, who pointed to Delaney R (Sportswriter-Redhots’s Memory), Ideal Light (American Ideal—Give Me Life), Goth Hanover (Sportswriter-Gifted Yankee) and Street Boy (American ideal-Trend Setter) as her springtime favorites among her pacing crew.
Having cut her schedule back tremendously and spending about five months in Florida training just 2 and 3-year-olds, the newly married Coleman has seen her free time increase and recently got out to Gulfstream Park for the Florida Derby. As a wedding present, Ross Cohen and Jennifer Connor gave her the chance to present a trophy in the winner’s circle.
“We were running late and Ross kept texting me asking when we were going to get there. I had no idea they were going to surprise me with that,” said Coleman, who is a bit lost when it comes to Thoroughbred racing. “I look at that program and think it must be in Chinese. You would think I’d be able to read it better since I’m in racing. It is an interesting game. I wish we could figure out to get some of the people that show up and wager to our side.”
While Coleman admits to trying to “slow down a little bit” when it comes to her schedule, she is still winning races at a tremendous rate. In 2016 she sent out 53 winners in 197 starts, the fewest horses she has sent to post since 2003.
With 2,258 victories and over $53 million in earnings from her horses since beginning her career in 1997, Coleman has a proven track record of success that will likely propel her to another solid year in 2017.