Little Brown Jug victor Michael’s Power excels in his second career
Standardbreds are consistently showing their versatility, whether it’s for riding or driving, for show or pleasure. Hoof Beats is happy to share stories from readers about their favorite retired Standardbreds. This month, Megan Rider writes about former racing pacer Michael’s Power, who now shows under saddle with Kailey Williams.
Some of the most successful Standardbreds during their racing days achieve plenty in their second careers. Their willingness to learn, work, and please certainly aids the transition. Perhaps no horse better exemplifies the adaptability of the breed than 2012 Little Brown Jug winner and Canadian Horse of the Year Michael’s Power.
A son of Camluck out of the mare Michelle’s Jackpot, Michael’s Power was bred by Jeffrey Snyder and co-owned by Snyder’s son, Michael, who was also the pacer’s namesake.
Michael’s Power was victorious in 37 of 98 career starts and earned $1.9 million. The 11-year-old gelding was bred for greatness, as his sire and dam are Hall of Fame members. His is a half-sibling to Lucky Jackpot (Western Han-over, $146,573), Michael’s Marvel (Jenna’s Beach Boy, $831,028), Millionaire Cam (Million Dollar Cam, $192,994), Alexa’s Jackpot (Million Dollar Cam, $500,006), Mac’s Power (Somebeachsomewhere, $183,417) and Mac’s Big Boy (Somebeachsomewhere, $129,436).
He is also a full brother to Michelle’s Power ($1.28 million) and Mike’s Powerhouse ($264,960). His second dam is Jef’s Magic Trick, who foaled 1994 Horse of the Year Cam’s Card Shark.
Michael’s Power defeated recent Hall of Fame inductee Sweet Lou in the Little Brown Jug, providing his trainer, Casie Coleman Herlily, with her first triumph in the pacing classic; his owner with his third victory in Delaware, Ohio; and his driver, then 23-year-old Scott Zeron, the opportunity to become the youngest driver to capture this event.
He also won the $587,315 Confederation Cup, the $582,000 Upper Canada Cup, and the $300,000 Ontario Sire Stakes final in 2012, and is only the second Ontario-sired horse to ever win the Little Brown Jug. He continued to compete for four years, retiring in 2016 at age 7.
Coleman Herlily, his trainer for the first portion of his career, said the horse took her to new heights.
“When I first got Mike, he was pretty nasty and difficult to handle,” she said. “When we first hooked him, he would just lay down on the track and we couldn’t get him up until we took all of his equipment off. He almost severely injured his veterinarian, and after that, the decision was made by [his owner] to geld him. After he was gelded, Mike was a totally different horse. He was a gentleman and he became incredibly talented. Mike has a heart of gold.”
Coleman Herlily added that much effort went into preparing Michael’s Power to race because of the horse’s hoof issues.
“We worked on his feet every week,” she said. “I trained him in flip flops all week, then come race day, I’d put him in steel shoes, then change them again the next day back into the flip flops, which are easier on the feet. I even tried to race him in flip flops, but he couldn’t grab the track.
“I used to take him in the morning and night to the sea salt spa they have at Mohawk Raceway, and we even made our own sea salt spa at home to help him. He was good enough as he was, and if he was completely sound, it would’ve been scary to see how much more he could’ve done.”
Michael’s Power now resides at Blairwood Farms in Columbus, N.J., and remains officially owned by the Snyders. A young girl by the name of Kailey Williams, however, has been showing the gelding since April 2019.
Williams grew up riding horses, but the classic winner was the first horse she had sat upon in quite some time.
“My cousin, Tom Spain, works at Blairwood Farms and I go to the farm sometimes and help,” said the 20-year-old. “Mike Snyder told the farm owner that if anybody wanted to ride Michael’s Power, they would like that.”
Michael’s Power was good-natured and Williams decided to throw a saddle on him. The duo has since performed in Western Pleasure, trail riding, and other show classes. They placed fifth at the National Horse Show in New Jersey after being together for only four months.
Williams explained how quickly Michael’s Power adapted to being under saddle.
“You can tell Michael had really good handlers,” she said. “The first day, he stood there like an angel and then trotted right around. He stands perfectly still on crossties and loves being groomed. He is really such a good horse.”
Williams noted that although Michael’s Power may have been fast on the track, he no longer has a need for speed.
“He doesn’t want to go fast,” she said. “I usually just trot with him and that is enough. He will break into an occasional canter and will pace in the field, but otherwise, he just doesn’t want to go fast.”
Williams is beyond thankful she has been able to ride a horse as successful as Michael’s Power.
“He is such a special horse and I am so grateful for the opportunity to ride him and spend my days with him,” she said.
Williams remains in touch with the Snyders and updates them on the gelding’s progress. She often shares photos of their adventures together on social media, including Michael’s Power perfecting his very own version of a selfie.
It appears Michael’s Power is just as successful in his new profession, demonstrating the versatility of the Standardbred and providing a young lady with an incredible amount of joy. HB
Megan Rider is a freelance writer living in New York. To comment on this story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.