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With no Fillies and Mares Open on the card, a $9,500 conditional event for distaffers served as the Friday feature at Saratoga Casino Hotel. The race had the look of an Open, though, as a few of its participants were dropping out of top-flight company. Happy Heart (Woodstock) was a nominee for Filly and Mare Claiming Pacer of the Year in 2017 as one of the stars of the Melissa Beckwith stable. While her '18 campaign hasn't quite matched last year's, Happy Heart is enjoying another solid season and on Friday night driver Wally Hennessey sat behind her for the first time. Starting from post two, Happy Heart was aggressive in the early going and powered out to the lead in a sizzling 26.4 first quarter. After getting a breather in the second quarter, Happy Heart was met with the challenge of the race's odds-on favorite who made her move first over though that rival never got close to the leader. Happy Heart seemed to be tiring a bit late in the mile as longshot Pull The Shade (Frank Coppola Jr) motored up the inside in the stretch to come after her. Happy Heart hung in there and recorded her fifth victory of the season, stopping the timer in 1:54.1 to spring the mild upset at odds of 6-1. Pull The Shade was the runner-up while one of the Open droppers Rock N Roll Rosie (Jimmy Devaux) came on for third. Happy Heart paid $14.20 to win and led an exacta and triple, with the favorite out of the number, that returned $121.50 and $530, respectively. Live racing continues on Saturday night at Saratoga with a first post time of 6:45pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Carolina Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) became the first six-time winner of the Open Pace this season at Saratoga Casino Hotel on Saturday night as the Melissa Beckwith trainee came from off the pace to record the win. Carolina Beach was a beaten favorite in last Saturday's installment of the $14,500 Open but was still bet down to odds of 4-5 this week. Wally Hennessey sat off the early speed with Carolina Beach who moved second over after the first half went in a fast 55.2. Drafting behind the defending Horse of the Year Artful Way (Frank Coppola Jr) who was brushing up first-over, Carolina Beach tipped off the cover around the final turn before storming past his rivals to prevail in 1:51.2. Artful Way was an improved second on Saturday while Somewhere Fancy (Billy Dobson) earned the show spot. Carolina Beach's win was his twelfth of the year and his sixth in the local Open as the four year old gelding continues to bolster the resume in what has been his career season. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:15pm start to the matinee. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

There were co-features on Saturday night at Saratoga Casino Hotel as the Fillies and Mares Open joined the regular Saturday feature the Open Pace to highlight the evening's thirteen race card. Each of the co-features went for a purse of $14,500 and each saw the favorite prevail. The Open Pace was won by Carolina Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) who was offensive minded from the get-go on Saturday night. Wally Hennessey overcame the outside post with Carolina Beach, the race's 4-5 betting favorite, as he moved the Melissa Beckwith-trained pacer out to the early lead. Laying down fast fractions of 27 and 55.4 in lap one, Carolina Beach had something left for the stretch run to prevail in 1:52.1 while holding off Texas Terror N (Bruce Aldrich Jr) and securing his second consecutive win in the Open and eleventh victory overall in the 2018 campaign. Texas Terror N was the runner-up while longshot Rise Up Now (Larry Stalbaum) earned the show spot. The Fillies and Mares Open, the regular Friday night feature at the Spa, was pushed back a night due to a New York Sire Stakes-filled card on Friday. Rene Allard's Eclipse Me N (Real Desire) swooped the group to win the local Open for the first time. Leading driver Billy Dobson worked out a cover trip for the 6-5 favorite as Eclipse Me N drafted second-over behind the track's defending Pacing Mare of the Year Truth And Liberty who was making her first local start of the season. Eclipse Me N made a powerful move around the final turn and drew out to win by a length and half, stopping the timer in 1:53.2 for her sixth victory on the campaign. Regular Open star Spreester (Frank Coppola Jr) came from last in the Open for distaffers before finishing second while longshot Better Said (Brett Crawford) earned the show spot. Live racing resumes on Tuesday evening at Saratoga with New York Sire Stakes competition highlighting the thirteen race card. Two year old pacing colts and geldings will be featured in stakes action. First post time is set for 7:05pm. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

YONKERS, N.Y. – Paul Kelley will send out the favorite Akhenaton in the second division of the French American Trotting Club first leg Sunday afternoon at Yonkers. The 8-year-old drew post three off a convincing win at Saratoga July 25, making him the 5-2 choice in $35,000 split. Kelley’s stable was well prepared to accept Akhenaton in June. Several of Kelley’s staff and assistants previously worked in Sweden and France and knew what to expect from the French-bred and raced gelding. Kelley also consulted with Alexandre Dessartre, a monte rider in France who worked with Kelley earlier this year before shifting his tack to thoroughbred trainer Jeremiah Englehart’s barn.  “Something that helps me, I have some Scandinavians that work in my stable that have spent time in France racing over there,” Kelley said. “For a while, I had a guy named Alexandre Dessartre. He was able to give us a little insight into what to expect in these French horses in terms of temperament and things like that.” Despite all the homework and foreign influence in Kelley’s stable, when Akhenaton arrived, Kelley found him to be straightforward. Soon, the son of Nice Love out of the Corot mare Iena de Mosta settled into his new home in Kelley’s Vernon Downs barn. “We turn horses out a lot. He’s got a paddock buddy, he’s got a horse he goes out with, so he’s happy about that,” Kelley said. “He’s really made a real easy transition. His appetite’s been great. If you didn’t know he was from France, you might think he just came over from New Jersey or Pennsylvania or something.” Although Akhenaton is new to the American style of racing and training, he has plenty of experience racing in France. He won five races and placed in 13 others from 62 foreign starts, earning 96,300€ in the stable of Colette Chassagne. Forty-eight of his starts, and all of his wins, came in monte, or under saddle, races. “The horses that we’re dealing with now coming from France, they’ve been around a little bit. From my perspective, it’s about trying to figure out what makes that horse happy, find that common ground where we can have the horse so he steers right, he’s comfortable to drive, but at the same time, the horse himself is also comfortable with the equipment that you’re put on him,” Kelley said. “You just have to find that common ground. He’s been racing monte and he’s been pulling a sulky. I don’t believe I can really teach him any new speed, it’s more about finding a happy accord between the two of us and hope by doing that, we can bring out the best in him.” Akhenaton made his debut for Kelley in a qualifier at Vernon Downs July 13. With his trainer in the sulky, Akhenaton took his place behind the starting gate, but soon after the wings folded, the trotter made a break in stride. Far behind the field, he broke again late in the mile and failed to qualify. Kelley made minor adjustments to get the trotter back on track for the start of the series. “I trained him a couple times prior to that unchecked; no overcheck, let him go with his head low and I thought he was really good gaited and pretty comfortable,” Kelley said. “When I qualified him the first time at Vernon, I did have an overcheck on him, but it was flopping pretty good, I let him go with a real low head. He was really good behind the gate, but when the gate released, he took about three steps off the car and he just dropped his head and went into a break. “I knew then that he needed something, that the overcheck was too long because he was a very good-gaited horse, I didn’t think there was any kind of gait issues to be concerned with, just a matter of getting his bridle right,” the trainer continued. “The first qualifier was a little disheartening, but we kind of figured that it was easily rectified because he didn’t seem like a tricky horse at all.” Kelley qualified Akhenaton at Vernon Downs seven days later. With assistant trainer Rene Sejthen in the bike and with his new overcheck in place, Akhenaton completed the mile in 1:57.2 and posted a final quarter of :28.  Convinced the trotter was ready to race, Kelley entered him in a $7,250 overnight at Saratoga July 25. The start would be a test of how well Akhenaton could handle the half-mile racetrack he’ll face at Yonkers. In addition, the Saratoga start meant Kelley could name Wally Hennessey to drive. Kelley craved the Hall of Fame driver’s wisdom. “When you can take a horse to Saratoga and have someone like Wally Hennessey take them, you’re going to learn a lot more because you’re going to get great feedback from Wally,” Kelley said. “There’s not too many guys in the business that can sit behind a horse and give you the real insight you might need to let you know that you’re on the right track.” Bet down to the race’s 7-5 favorite, Hennessey put Akhenaton in the race. He cleared the lead past the opening quarter and extended his advantage to 3 ¼ at the end of the mile, earning his first win in a sulky in 1:57.2. Although Hennessey was pleased overall, the 61-year-old offered plenty of advice to Kelley. Akhenaton drives on the left line, meaning he has a propensity to bear out the whole mile. While Kelley believes this is preferable to a horse who bears in, which makes it harder for the driver to negotiate the horse and to get him out and around the horses that he’s following. Kelley raced Akhenaton with a line pole and Murphy blind to try to keep the trotter straight. Hennessey felt the line pole was enough. “A line pole isn’t very restrictive at all. It allows a horse to still kind of cock his head into that line pole a little bit, but there’s enough there to keep him a little honest so he doesn’t get too crooked,” Kelley said. “Wally thought once the horse trotted off the car, the horse straightened up naturally on his own and he thought the line pole would be enough. With the Murphy blind, he can hear the competition coming, but he can’t really see it. Sometimes, the horses can relax a little more when they can see what’s going on. Wally just thought take the Murphy blind off and he’ll be nice and straight without it.” Hennessey also recommended that Kelley remove Akhenaton’s knee boots. Although knee boots help protect a horse’s legs during a race, they also make the leg thicker and can make it easier for a horse to grab himself, Kelley explains. As Akhenaton also wears wraps, Hennessey felt the boots weren’t needed. “Not that he couldn’t maybe touch a knee, but sometimes the knee boots stick out just enough where they can kind of trip a horse up, too,” Kelley said. “Even though you’re putting them on for protective purposes, they stick out just enough where a horse might touch it and it upsets his gait a little bit. Wally is a big proponent of trying to go with as little equipment as possible, which is something I like.” Off his successful U.S. debut and with the equipment changes made, Akhenaton will take on eight French-bred rivals in his division of the French American Trotting Club first leg in race three Sunday afternoon. Mark MacDonald will drive in the 10-furlong race. Ursis Des Caillons will start from post six for Jenn and Joe Bongiorno off two impressive qualifiers; he won a 1 1/4-mile trial in 2:30.4 at Yonkers July 13 and qualified again at the Meadowlands July 21, finishing second to Hambletonian entrant Fourth Dimension. He was individually timed in 1:53 with a :26.4 final quarter. Very Very Fast drew just inside Akhenaton for Bob Bresnahan and enters of a 2:29.4 qualifying win going 10 furlongs at Yonkers July 13. Ray Schnittker’s Aladin Du Dollar finished second in two qualifiers at Yonkers July 7 and July 20 and drew post one. Chaperon Felin, Vas Y Seul, Verdi D Em, Bamako Du Bocage, and Undici complete the field. Sunday’s card also features a $54,800 Open Handicap Trot in the first race and another division of the French American Trotting Club in race two. First post time for the all-trot card is 12:30 p.m. For entries to the races, click here. The second and third legs of the French American Trotting Club series will be held August 19 and 26, respectively and the $100,000 final is set for September 2. For more information, click here. by Brandon Valvo, for the SOA of NY

Carolina Beach (Somebeachsomewhere) won last week's Open Pace in career best fashion at Saratoga Casino Hotel and was subsequently assigned the outside post in Saturday's most recent installment of the $14,500 feature. On Saturday night, Wally Hennessey picked up the catch drive behind Carolina Beach whose primary game is early speed. Hennessey had thoughts of leaving but with too much speed inside of him, backed off with the four year old and settled in fifth in the six-horse Open. Panocchio (Gerry Mattison) made the early lead but was confronted almost immediately by parked out rival O'sundland (Larry Stalbaum) who finally made it to top in a sizzling half paced in 54.3. Panocchio didn't sit for long and was quickly back out to confront the weary O'sundland who started to fade past three-quarters in 1:22.3. All the while, the race's odds-on favorite Carolina Beach was patiently waiting to pounce. Hennessey pulled up the backstretch and Carolina Beach swooped the group before drawing away to win in 1:51.3 for his third Open Pace victory of the year and second in as many weeks. Panocchio was the runner-up on Saturday while longshot Babinga Wood (Jimmy Devaux) came on to be third. For Carolina Beach, who is trained by Melissa Beckwith, paid $3.00 as the race's big favorite and led an exacta and triple that came back $9.90 and $62, respectively. Live racing continues on Sunday afternoon at Saratoga with a 12:15pm start to the matinee. by Mike Sardella, for Saratoga Raceway  

Pompano Beach, FL…May 31, 2018…Pompano Park wrapped up it 126 night 2017-2018 season on Wednesday night with a competitive 11 race program highlighted by Boli taking the feature trot, Roll With Faith annexing the pacing feature for mares, Wally Hennessey hitting yet another grand slam and a mandatory payout on the track’s popular Super Hi-5 wager.   Boli had things his own way in the Open trot as Wally Hennessey guided the six year-old gelded son of Kadabra to a handy 1 ¾ length win in 1:56.4 over Thundercrest, driven by Dave Ingraham. Cashahallic finished third for John Moody after a serious bid around the final bend while Reilee Workable completed the order of finish.   Starting from post three in his quartet, Boli burst off the wings with alacrity and took the field through an opening panel in a somewhat tepid :28.4 with Thundercrest in the garden spot after leaving from post one.    With no challenges during the second panel, Boli lolly-gagged over to the half in :59. Things picked up a bit on the backside as Cashahallic began his brush forward but Boli put him away once they reached the third station in 1:28. A :28.4 finale sealed the deal as Boli sent his corecard for the year to 4-3-3 in 12 starts, good for $34,720 for owners Paul and Patricia O’Neil.    After the event, Hennessey remarked, “He was a perfect gentleman leaving the gate tonight and, when we got to the lead so easily, I was confident he could go all the way. He relaxed during that second quarter and, when he gets to the half in :59 like that, he’s going to be tough to beat.”   Trained by Dan Hennessey, Boli has now banked $269,384 lifetime to go along with his Pompano Park mark of 1:54.2.   Off at 1 to 2, Boli returned $3.00 to he multitude of backers.   Hennessey also won with John Campagnuolo’s Modern Mercury ($3.00) in 1:57.1, Pink Gardinias ($2.80), also owned by Campagnuolo along with Alan Hyatt, in 1:55.3 and Herman Brewer’s Beijing Hanover ($4.60)  in 1:57, a new lifetime mark.   The latter winner is a seven year-old gelded son of Explosive Matter that has just begun his racing career—plagued by injuries up until recently.   Trained by Rosie Huff, Beijing Hanover has won three of his first four career starts and, as Hennessey said, “his career is just getting started. It’s like he’s a two year-old and, if he can stay healthy, he’s got a career ahead of him.”   Roll With Faith, the consistent four year-old daughter of Roll With Joe, made a backside blast from third into the lead around the final turn and went on to win by 2 ¾ lengths in 1:53 for Dave Ingraham.   Northern Dali was second for Wally Hennessey while Goldstar Rockette finished third for Bryce Fenn. Islay N finished fourth after cutting stiff opening panels of :26.3 and :56 before yielding past the third station in 1:24.1. Worldly Doll completed the order of finish.   Trained by John Mungillo, who co-owns with Finish Line Investors and Lawrence Willer, Roll With Faith earned her sixth win of the year, good for $32,229. She’s has career earnings of $63,807.   Second choice in the betting at 6 to 5, Roll With Faith paid $4.60 to win.   The Super Hi-5 finale featured a $40,000 guaranteed poll and, with that pool ballooning well over the $60,000, the 1-6-4-5-7 combo paid $139.60 for the 20 cent ticket.   Veteran trainer Jim McDonald piloted the winner of that last race, Odds On Cheddar to a maiden win in 1:57.1 for his Twenty Four Carrot Racing stable.   On the statistical side of the ledger, Wally Hennessey took the driving title in terms of wins with 231. Dave Ingraham, with a driving double on the card, finished second with 110 trips to the winner’s circle while John MacDonald (95 wins), Andy Santeramo (76) and Rick Plano (50) rounded out the top five followed by Mike Simons (47), Mickey McNichol (46), Jim Meittinis (46), Bryce Fenn (44) and Ricky Macomber, Jr. (38)   In terms of winning percentage for drivers with a minimum of 126 starts, Hennessey was at the top of the list with a winning percentage of 26.5% while George Napolitano, Jr. was second T 21.9%. Andy Santeramo was next at 21.6%.while John MacDonald was next at 19%. Rounding out the top five was Dave Ingraham at 17.2%.   On the training side, John MacDonald edged out Gaston Lareau in a photo finish,56 to 55. Mike Deters was third with 47 wins, followed by Mickey McNichol (41) and Dustin Ingraham (40). Eric Beach (35), Rick Plano (33), Nick Surick (30), Andy Santeramo (29) and Jim McDonald (30) complete the top 10.   In terms of winning percentage, Andy Santeramo was the leader in that category, winning 29 of 76 starts—a winning percentage of a lofty 38.2%. Dustin Ingraham was second at 25.5%, followed by John MacDonald (23.4%), Tony Dinges (22.9%) and Mike Deters (22.1%). Rounding out the top 10 in the category were Dan Hennessey (19%), Joe Pavia, Jr. (19%), Kim Sears (17%), Jim McDonald (17%), and Gaston Lareau (16.3%).   The top five trainers in terms of purse earnings were Mike Deters ($440,610), Kim Sears ($337,286), John MacDonald ($326,275), Mickey McNichol ($286,566) and Gaston Lareau ($267,799).   Pari-Mutuel racing returns to Pompano Park on October 21st with FSBOA non-wagering sponsored stakes events scheduled for October 6th and 13th.   by John Berry, for Pompano Park

Pompano Beach, FL...May 28, 2018...Dodging a major weather "bullet" as Tropical Storm Alberto roared along side, Pompano Park got their Sunday night show in featuring Four Socks scoring a "three peat" win the Open Pace, four trainers being honored as winners of the track's incentive program and Wally Hennessey hitting yet another grand slam.   Four Socks, superbly handled by Hennessey, led from first long stride to the wire to score a 1:53.3 win over a track dulled somewhat by torrential rains throughout the last two days.   The stout-closing Dee's Rocketman, grinding away the entire last lap, finished a neck back in second for Mickey McNichol while Sing For Me George finished a strong third for Dave Ingraham. Kotare Yael N, actually closing fastest of all, finished fourth while Fritzie Pic Up Man picked up the nickel in the classy million dollar quintet.   Beginning from his assigned outside post five, Four Socks, a rugged eight year-old gelded son of I Scoot Hanover, burst off the wings and into an early open lead before carving out panels of :27.1, :56.4 and 1:24.3 before a :29 finale held off a stubborn Dee's Rocketman in a photo finish.   Said Hennessey after the race, "First, I think the track crew did an amazing job in keeping the track in racing shape after all the rain we've had. Hats off to them. Second, even though Four Socks took a week off, he is such a great horse that a week off doesn't bother him at all. He was as sharp as usual leaving and he's got a great quality of being able to relax once he's on top or when things settle down after the dust settles.   "I'm so happy for Mike (trainer Murphy), who is recovering from a kidney transplant just a couple of days ago. This, I am sure, will speed up his recovery! There's nothing like a win to help things along."   The win pushed Four Socks scorecard to 5-2-3 in 15 starts, good for $26,208 this year for owners Geneva Stewart and Barbara Murphy, Mike's wife. He's banked $189,134 career-wise.   As the 4 to 5 tote-board favorite, Four Socks rewarded his faithful with a $3.60 mutuel.   Hennessey also won with Pacing Pretty Stable's Brown Titan ($4.40), JP Houle Stables' St Lads Lotto ($3.20), and Spirit Shadow ($2.60), also owned by the JP Houle Stable.   Hall of Famer Hennessey now has an astounding 227 wins for the meet--a winning percentage of almost 27%.   St Lads Lotto and Spirit Shadow, by the way are trained by Gaston Lareau, who has closed the gap in the leading trainer competition and now trails John MacDonald by only two wins going into the final night of the season on Wednesday night.   Lareau has eight horses entered for the final night of the season on Wednesday night.   After the first race, Pompano Park's Racing Secretary Joe Frasure was in the winner's circle to present trainers Allen Saul, Kelly Case, Nick Surick (Allen Johnson accepting) and Gaston Lareau with monetary awards for winning their respective divisions in the unique incentive program designed to reward trainers stabled at the track for their season long participation.   The program, designed by Vice President-General Manager Troy Buswell, Director of Racing Stacy Cahill and Racing Secretary Joe Frasure, culminated with checks to Saul ($2,500), Case ($4,000), Surick ($6,000) and Lareau ($12,500).   The incentive program, for trainers stables on the grounds, will double for the 2018-2019 racing season, which gets underway in late October.   Racing continues on Wednesday night with this grand finale featuring 11 races and a mandatory payout in the Super Hi-5. The carryover going in is $18,822.23.   Post time is 7:20 p.m.   by John Berry for Pompano Park    

Pompano Beach, FL...May 17, 2018...Hall of Fame harness racing driver Wally Hennessey put on a hall of fame performance at Pompano Park on Wednesday night (May 16), winning six of his seven driving assignments. In pushing his Pompano Park seasonal total to an astounding 219, Hennessey improved on his already lofty "Ty Cobb" like UDRS of .405 coming into the action, while improving his winning percentage to over 26%. He took the opener with Northern Dali ($3.40), finished third in the second race, and, after sitting out in race three, captured the remaining five races on the eight race program, winning with Just Like Lloyd ($5.20), Metro Glide ($3.60), Vodkancaviar ($6.80), Pink Gardenias ($3.60) and William Star ($3.20). Hennessey now has won 9,696 races during his Hall of Fame career. His heroics enabled trainers Gaston Lareau and Jamie Daley to attain training doubles with Lareau's successes being with J P Houle Stables Northern Dali and Lareau Stables own Metro Glide while Jamie Daley enjoyed winner's circle ceremonies with the Mike White and Dale Gilmour owned Just Like Lloyd and David Linker's Vodkancaviar--both enjoying their first win of the season. Reflecting on the night, a humble Hennessey said, "It's OK to give me credit for getting them home but, when you get catch-drives like this, it's very important to give credit to the trainers and caretakers of these horse getting them ready to go to the gate and perform at their best. "You never know how they'll be going to the gate, so, tonight, besides Gas (Gaston Lareau) and Jamie (Daley), both (Tom) Bigler (James) Quinn had their horses ready to race tonight. So, they and their caretakers are really the ones what deserve the credit." Racing continues on Sunday night with post time set at 7:20. The Super Hi-5 Finale has a carryover of $12,232. by John Berry for Pompano Park

Pompano Beach, FL...May 10, 2018...As Hall of Fame harness racing driver Wally Hennessey lamented, "Sometimes, you need a little extra luck to reach the winner's circle." That was the case on Wednesday night as Boli inherited a win on Wednesday night in Pompano Park's trotting feature. The six year-old gelded son of Kadabra looked to be in a hopeless situation turning for home but took full advantage of the leader's miscue once they straightened away and went on to score a one length win over Thundercrest (Dave Ingraham) in 1:55.2. Cashahallic (John Moody), longest shot on the board, finished third while Railee Workable finished fourth. Up The Alley finished fifth in the classy sextet, paying the price for that earlier stated miscue in the lane. Indeed, it was Up The Alley, handled by Corey Braden and starting from the coveted post five, who out-sprinted the field as Boli, leaving from post four, settled in the garden spot. Up The Alley took the field through panels of :28, :56.4 and 1:25.3 and began sprinting away around that final bend, opening up a 3 1/2 length lead once they turned for home. But, suddenly, Up The Alley went up in the air and Boli took full advantage of that prolonged miscue and waltzed on to the victory. In a post race interview, Hennessey said, "Sometimes you need a little extra luck to reach the winner's circle" and, tonight, we had that little bit of extra luck. "I really didn't think we were going to beat the leader (Up The Alley) turning for home but, Boli took advantage and that was that! You know, Boli is by a world champion (Kadabra) and out of a world champion (Pizza Dolce) so he's always going to give a good account of himself. He's has inherited a lot of his sire's and dam's great traits." Trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, Boli evened up his scorecard at 3-3-3 in 10 starts, good for $31,160 this semester and $265,824 lifetime. Off as the 3 to 5 tote-board favorite, Boli returned $3.40 to win. Trainer John Mungillo had a hat trick on Wednesday night as Prince of Fame ($4.40), Roll With Faith ($2.60) and Gold Star Sonata ($5.80) all hit the winner's circle. Prince of Fame, owned by Amante Standardbreds, was driven by Corey Braden, Roll With Faith, owed by Mungillo along with Finish Line Investors and Lawrence Willer, had the driving services of Dave Ingraham. who also drove Papiernik's Gold Star Sonata to victory. Racing continues Sunday night with post time set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park    

Pompano Beach, FL...May 7, 2018...Four Socks, catch-driven by Wally Hennessey, took top honors in Pompano Park's featured Open Pace on Sunday night, stopping the timer in 1:52.4. The rugged gelded son of I Scoot Hanover showed his four socks to a classy field in scoring a wire-to-wire win off panels of :27, :56.4 and 1:24.2 before an effortless :28.2 finale left him 1 1/4 lengths up on Caviart Reagan, handled by Dave Ingraham. Favored Dee's Rocketman finished third for Mickey McNichol while Team Captain and Spirit Shadow completed the roster of the quintet. With post positions assigned, Hennessey, leaving from post position four, sent Four Socks whistling off the wings and into the lead and, after a swift opener, was able to get that second quarter breather that "really helped the cause." On the backside, things began to heat up rapidly with Dee's Rocketman surging and just a length off the leader around the final bend. But, once they straightened away, Four Socks had plenty left and was never threatened to the wire. After the race, Hennessey remarked, "Murph's horse (Four Socks) was sharp as a tack coming in. I knew that because I had been racing against him in recent weeks and we was full of pace late against Panocchio in his last start. So, when you know your competition and get an opportunity to drive a horse like this, it's a blessing. We got to the lead very easy and he was nice and relaxed during the second quarter which really helped the cause. "I'll tell you who gets the credit here--Mike's wife (Barbara) and Joan Uszak, who has been in this business just about forever, do just a fantastic job taking care of this horse. He is immaculate! They get all the credit because he was ready to race tonight." Trained by Mike Murphy for owners Barbara Murphy and Geneva Stewart, Four Socks won for the third time this year in 13 starts, good for $18,958 and $181,884 lifetime. Four Socks paid $4.20 to his multitude of faithful and kicked off a Pick-6 sequence that paid a generous $212.05 for the 50 cent ticket, despite the fact that, following Four Socks, four favorites won and the longest shot in the Pick-6 was 3 to 1. Racing resumes Wednesday night with post time set at 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park    

Pompano Beach, FL...April 25, 2018...Boli, handled by Hall of Fame harness racing driver Wally Hennessey, earned the narrow nod in capturing the featured Open II Trot at Pompano Park on Tuesday night (April 24). The game six year-old gelded son of Kadabra dug in late to hold off a determined bid of Thindercrest, driven by Dave Ingraham, by a neck in a seasonal best clocking of 1:55.3. Prairie Fortune, with Jim Meittinis in his bike, closed fastest of all to finish third, a length away. Entranced finished fourth while War Cry Hall picked up the nickel in the classy octet. Favored Celebrity Eventsy faltered after challenging much of the way and eventually finished eighth. As the wings folded, Thundercrest, leaving from the rail, left with alacrity to take command as Celebrity Eventsy (post two) followed with Boli, leaving from the outside post eight, on the prowl and looking for a spot closer up and eventually finding that spot in third with an opening panel clocked in :27.4. Expecting the leader to seek a second quarter breather, Hennessey smartly brushed Boli right to the front three-eighths into the mile and took his charge to the half in :57.2 as Celebrity Eventsy began to apply the tourniquet with half down and half to go. On the backside, the pace quickened as the war continued between Boli on the inside and Celebrity Eventsy along side as the pair reched the third station virtually deadlocked in 1:25.4 with Jack Rules on a double-bubble binge and Thundercrest begging for a seam. Straightening away, Boli put away the challenge of Celebrity Eventsy with Thundercrest finally finding that seam and Prairie Fortune, last turning for home, flying. In the final sixteenth, Boli dug in deeply and held off Thundercrest and Prairie Fortune in completing a game performance. After the race, Hennessey related, "Boli is a very reliable horse that gives everything he's got once he goes behind the gate. He may not win every week, but he sure tries hard. I made that quarter move expecting the leader to seek a bit of a breather so I felt it was a good opportunity to brush him a but during what I thought would be that breather during that quarter. When DeWayne (Minor) came at me on the backside, I wasn't about to let him go because I had already made two moves with Boli, so we went at it pretty good. He dug in with all he had in the final yards. I was proud of his performance." Trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, the win was number 30 in Boli's career measuring 84 starts and sent his lifetime bounty to $261,484--$26,820 this semester in his eight starts. Sent off as the 9 to 5 second choice, Boli paid $5.80 to win. The fastest trotting mile of the night was accomplished by William Star, driven by Jim Meittinis for owner trainer James Quinn. The six year-old altered son of Windsong Espoir used different strategy this night as he carved up panels of :26.3, :56.2 and 1:25 before coasting home in :30.1 to hit the wire in 1:55.1, a new lifetime mark. It was the 20th career win for William Star, sending his lifetime earnings to $84,726 of which $25,324 has been banked this year. Off at 5 to 2 as second choice, William Star paid $7.60 to win. Racing continues on Sunday with the new two night per week schedule kicking in through the month of May--Sundays and Wednesdays. Post time remains at 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park        

Pompano Beach, FL...April 19, 2018...On the heels of a very successful Pro-Am event with Tim Tetrick and David Miller, the Florida Amateur Driving Club has secured the services of harness racing Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey and Dave Ingraham for a now highly anticipated Pro-Am event on Sunday, April 22. Hennessey and Ingraham are "one-two" in the wins category at Pompano Park this meet and will be hosting the event as the FADC edges closer to the $200,000 mark in charitable donations. The first of two events features a full field of trotters with combined earnings of over $1.7 million, which will be led by Cashahallic ($394,062), who, ironically, will be driven by Wall Hennessey. Hennessey will have team support from amateur drivers Robert Krivelin, Dein Spriggs, Joe Pennacchio and John Campagnuolo Ingraham will pilot Bad I Am in the event and has Leon Cable, Tony Dinges, Billy Muggleston and Steve Oldford on his roster. That event will also have a $5,752 superfecta carryover going in and kicks off a Pick-5 with a carryover of $6,403 and a $25,000 guaranteed pool. The final Pro-Am event will be conducted on the pentafecta fourth race, featuring a full field of 10 with combined career earnings of over $2.5 million with The Budster the richest of the group at $665,905. Hennessey will be in the bike back of Its Payday Friday in that event and has Joe Pennacchio, James Quinn, Roger Goldstein and Dein Spriggs on his team roster while Ingraham will drive Royal Hawaii with Steve Oldford, Ron Cusimano, Jamie Marra and Billy Muggleston completing his team. In announcing the event, FADC President Spriggs said, "Just as Tim Tetrick and Dave Miller did, Wally (Hennessey) and Dave (Ingraham) were eager participants in this to show just what our sport can do for worthy causes, as we have done for so many years. We can't thank them enough for competing in this event!" Sunday's program also features a classy field in the Open Pace as a $3,000,000 field has been assembled including Doo Wop Hanover ($792,919), Duc Dorleans ($657,789), Arsenal ($500,396) and Sing For Me George ($494,826). Post time for the Sunday program is set for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park  

Pompano Beach, FL...April 5, 2018...Modern Mercury, driven by harness racing Hall of Famer Wally Hennessey, was given a "hall of fame" drive on Wednesday night (April 4) to capture the $15,000 Open Trot for mares at the extended distance of 1 1/4 miles in 2:29.1. The five year-old daughter of Donato Hanover scored a handy victory measuring three lengths over the late charging Diamond Dagger, handled by Dave Ingraham, with She's All In next for Rick Plano. Vicki All, at the back of the sextet most of the way, rallied for fourth as Global Inspiration picked up the nickel. This was a classic "1960's" drive by Hennessey as the Hall of Famer, leaving from the track's coveted post five, sent Modern Mercury sprinting off the wings to take charge before taking the field through an opening quarter in the rare time (for this era) of :30.4. Once on top, it seemed the others were timid about leaving their respective spots for fear of getting left in the open air of the night, which allowed Hennessey to take Modern Mercury to the half in a leisurely 1:01.3--a good three to four seconds slower than usual for the class. Thereafter, the pace quickened with the third panel clocked in :29.3 and, by then, Hennessey had Modern Mercury In full throttle, trotting the last half mile in the marathon in :58 in remaining unthreatened to the wire. After the race, Hennessey related, "I was a little concerned about the added distance because she didn't do that well in her last marathon event, but tonight she was comfortable the entire way." About the classic "1960's" rating, Hennessey confided, "You know, way back when I was just getting started, the great Paige West gave me one to drive and I rated the horse the best I could but was out-brushed in the stretch. When I saw Paige after, I told him I though I had messed up because I didn't go fast enough early. He said, 'son, you did just fine. Remember, if you can't beat 'em fresh, you sure can't beat 'em tired.' I never forgot those words and how true they were tonight." Trained by Rob Harmon for owner John Campagnuolo, Modern Mercury won for the fourth time in 13 starts, good for $37,000 this semester. Lifetime, the grand mare has banked $131,875. As the even-money favorite on the tote-board, Modern Mercury paid $4.20 to her multitude of backers. In other action, Innit Hanover, catch-driven by Andy Santeramo subbing for owner-trainer Joe Sanzeri, took top honors in the $15,000 Pop-Up Final, also carded at 1 1/4 miles. The five year-old gelded son of Dragon Again, earned his first win of the year by completing the long distance in 2:25.4--his margin 2 3/4 lengths over JD's Profiteer, driven by Tyler Shehan. Devil Rei, with Dan Harvey handling the lines, third. Brown Titan and Casey's Lil' Harry earned the minor awards in the field of 10. In achieving his second largest payday of his career measuring 62 starts--the largest being as a 2015 two year-old--Innit Hanover sent his career earnings to $80,210. As third choice in the betting at 5 to 1, Innit Hanover paid $13.40 to win. In a racing rarity, the seven year-old Beijing Hanover, a gelded son of Explosive Matter competed in only bis second lifetime start and broke his maiden with a score in 1:58.3 for Wally Hennessey, who was in the bike for trainer Jake Huff and owner Herman Brewer. Beijing Hanover took command three-eighths into the mile after a :30.1 opener and proceeded through fractions of :59.2 and 1:29 before sealing the deal with a :29.3 finale. After the race, trainer Huff related, "He was injured as a young horse and, finally, was used a riding horse for several years. When he became sound, the owner, Herman Brewer, was tinkering with the idea of trying to get him to the races, so he sent him down to me. He's a great looking individual and he raced the part in winning. "Here's a seven year-old making his second lifetime start and just breaking his maiden. He's racing like a two year-old and the only regret I have is that he only has seven more years to race!" Beijing Hanover paid $6.60 as second choice In the betting. Racing continues on a Sunday-Monday-Tuesday schedule through April with Sunday's card featuring a stellar field in the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace. The $3,000,000 field includes track record holder Panocchio matching strides with Rock On Me, Alta Jerome N, Doo Wop Hanover, Dee's Rocketman and MIso Fast. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m. TRAINER MIKE SWEENEY EARNS 1,000TH TRAINING WIN As the night deepened over Pompano Park with the final race concluding, a five year-old trotting gelding left the winner's circle after completing a victory of 1:55.2 for driver Wally Hennessey. Not only was it a new lifetime mark for PC's Alleyway, it marked the 1,000th career training win for Patrick Sweeney, better known as Mike throughout the world of harness racing. The 63 year-old Sweeney also has over 700 career driving wins but, since the turn of the new century, has relied on catch-drivers to take his horses back of the starting gate. While Sweeney's success in the sulky stretches five decades, his career as a trainer began only 25 years ago and his expertise has been apparent with the success with both overnight race horses and stakes performers. Among his many successes in recent years are stakes winners, Walk Two Moons, An The Thunderolls, Aoliveinmymartini, Friends In Low Places, Girly Girl, Wild Bill M and Sue's Your Daddy. Sweeney is currently competing at South Florida's Pompano Park, where he sports a .302 UTRS average. by John Berry for Pompano Park    

Harness racing driver Wally Hennessey is still relishing the job he says he was born to do. The 61-year-old Hall of Fame driver is leading the standings at Florida's Pompano Park, where he has long been one of the top drivers and is looking for his third consecutive title. When Pompano's meet concludes at the end of May, Hennessey will move to Saratoga, where he also has enjoyed countless years of success. Last season, no one won more races at the Spa during the three months Hennessey called it home. Hennessey was born on Prince Edward Island, where he followed his father, Joe, and grandfather, Wal, into the sport. He made a name for himself in the Maritimes in the early 1980s, setting annual records for wins and purses, before traveling to Florida and launching a career in the U.S. that eventually led him to one of the greatest horses in harness racing history. In 1995, Hennessey began a six-year association with the female trotter Moni Maker, who was Horse of the Year in 1998 and 1999 and Trotter of the Year in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Hennessey and Moni Maker posted many memorable wins together, including the Elitlopp, Hambletonian Oaks, Breeders Crown Open Trot, and three editions of the Nat Ray. Moni Maker retired with a then-record $5.58 million in purses. Hennessey, who entered Tuesday with 9,635 career wins, has been inducted into both the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in the U.S. and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame, as well as halls of fame in Florida, New York, and Prince Edward Island. Last year, Hennessey won 335 times and ranked 27th in North America despite competing in fewer than 1,300 races. (He was the only driver among the top 33 to drive in fewer than 1,600). He is highly regarded for his consistency, which has seen him post a driver rating of at least .300 in 28 of the past 29 years. His lone miss came in 2001 when he finished at .295. Hennessey recently took time to talk about his career with U.S. Trotting Association Media Relations Manager Ken Weingartner. KW: You're having another good year and your career is still going strong. What keeps you going? WH: I'm still competitive and still getting some nice stables to drive for. I feel good. I work every day with the horses. It was something I was bred to do and it's something I want to continue to do as long as I feel I'm not in anybody's way. KW: When you're in front of everybody it makes it easier. WH: (Laughs.) The racing game today, the strategies aren't quite the same as they were years ago. When you look at most racetracks, you'll see the favorites win anywhere from 32 to 40 percent. If you happened to be getting the ones that are favored, and sometimes they're false favorites, but if you're the lucky guy getting the horses that have a chance at 5-1 and under, you're in the game. Over the years, I've been fortunate to be one of those guys. KW: How have you seen the game change and have you adjusted? WH: I would say yes. When I first started racing, which was back on Prince Edward Island, there wasn't a whole lot of power. But over the years, yes, with the way that the tracks are and the breed of the horse, it's changed. There is a fine line between the worst horse in the program and the best horse in the program. There's a difference whether they can beat one another, of course, but as far as speed or times of the mile, you'll see on any given night the cheapest class on the card will go (1):52 and the top class will go (1):52. It's a fine line. As far as adapting, I had to adapt. If you're on a favorite, generally you have a 40-percent chance of winning. So you have to put yourself into a winning position. Most times it means the horse has to be driven aggressively. Maybe in years past you could work out a decent trip with a horse and let somebody else dictate the fractions and still beat them. I believe today that if you let somebody else dictate the fractions and you're not in the right position, you can't win that race like you did years ago. You have to be in position the last quarter of a mile, somewhere near the front end, or you're not going to win. Not all the time, but the majority of the time. KW: Have you become more aggressive or have you always considered yourself aggressive? WH: Oh yes. I think I always was a touch aggressive, but I'm very aggressive (now). But it's not about me; it's about what I'm driving. Yes, I'm very aggressive; probably ultra-aggressive. But I'm able to do that because of the animal I'm driving or the stable I'm driving for that does a tremendous job. I'm just the guy that they choose. KW: What do you most enjoy about doing it after all these years? WH: It's the same today as it was -- the adrenaline rush. To be able to do this on a nightly basis, and the feeling you get when you win a race, that's really never changed. Whether it was a cheap race or a great race -- and of course a more significant race is better monetarily -- but it matters not to me. A win is a win. There is no greater feeling. Not many people get to have that adrenaline rush when you're doing what I've done for over 40 years. KW: Well, you've had the highest of highs, that's for sure. WH: Oh yes, that goes without saying. There was none better and there has been none better in my eyes than Moni Maker. Having said that, she made my career and she ruined my career. (Laughs.) I've said it many times, "How do I compare any horse to her?" When you've had the best, not that you don't respect other horses, but how many have come along that have been like her. She was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. KW: I'm just glad I got to see her in my lifetime. WH: It was a pleasure. When we were going through those years you knew it was special, but you really know later in life how special it was. You guys, as the audience, were probably more in awe than the people involved right in it with her at the time. But after the fact, I think anybody that's ever had anything to ever do with her looks back and says, "Wow." Even though we always knew she was extra special, but it's 20 years later and we're still talking about her. Whenever there is a poll about the greatest of all time, her name comes up. Not that everybody feels she was the greatest -- I do -- but her name is definitely mentioned. Having said that, I'm just happy that in my harness racing career that I happened to be the one who was part of her career. I'm sure everybody involved feels the same way. We were lucky she was with us, not that we were with her. KW: Do you still think about her a lot today? WH: Her picture is all over my house. (Laughs.) It was a special time for me. For me, she was my greatest of all time. You know Wally Hennessey -- whether you've actually met him or know him or what -- and you know him because of Moni Maker. You don't know him because he's won 9,500 races or because he's the leading dash-winner at Pompano Park. You know him because he was the driver of Moni Maker. That's plain and simple. KW: You mentioned the wins, and you're coming up on 10,000. Do those milestones still matter at this point? WH: When you reach them, yes, but when you're on your way to them, not so much. It's a number, and we're a numbers world, but I thought 1,000 was great when I reached it. And then 2,500 I thought was wow, amazing. I remember when I was a young fella in Atlantic Canada, Clarkie Smith had won 1,500 races and I said to him, "Fifteen-hundred wins, I can't believe it. I don't even know how I'm going to get 1,500 drives." In my case, I've raced year-round for 40 years. I've driven in quite a few races and I'm getting chances to win. As long as that continues, I'm going. I don't care what my age is or where I'm at. But I will quit. You won't see me stop in anybody's way. I will quit before that happens. I'll know when it's time. It's just not time for me yet. KW: I take it you'll be going to Saratoga again? WH: That's always been my routine, even when I was doing well on the Grand Circuit and New York Sire Stakes. I believe doing the two things that I've done, between Florida and Saratoga, you couldn't ask for two better places to, not only to do your job, but to live. I've been in an environment that I wanted to be in. I did not want to be at the Meadowlands year-round. I was quite content with my career and the way it turned out. KW: Has that contributed to your longevity and kept you fresh and enthusiastic? WH: Absolutely. Not a question. I never get burned out. If you look at my statistics, any given year, I think the most drives I've ever had in a year is 1,500 or 1,600. Tim Tetrick won 1,100 races in one year. (Laughs.) You know what I mean? I don't know how he did it. I feel 1,500 or 1,600 (drives) were the most I could go in a year, and I thought I was run off my feet. But I'm competing where I want to compete. KW: How did you settle upon Saratoga? WH: It was just the way my life went. I came to Pompano in 1986 and I was just coming down for the winter. Warren DeSantis was the race secretary (at Pompano). That year, Saratoga was sold and Warren was hired as the general manager. We were done here around the first part of April. He started contacting me in February or the first part of March and wanted me to bring my stable to Saratoga. He thought my horses would do all right there. I said no. He kept at me. Saratoga to me might as well have been New York City; I had no idea what Saratoga was. His final push, about a week or two before we were leaving here, was to tell me to stop on my way back to Atlantic Canada. That was it. It just suited my lifestyle. If it weren't for Warren DeSantis, we would not be talking today. I was able to scratch out a living doing these two venues. And then the other stuff that came beside it, right? Warren was a big part of that. If he hadn't been persistent, I was going back to the Maritimes and I don't know what would have happened from there. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have been heading down here again. KW: It's funny how all those things work out. WH: That's how life goes. Being in New York and starting on the New York Sire Stakes circuit, Moni Maker was New York-bred, so that's the whole ball of wax there. KW: How is Dan? (Hennessey's brother, who has trained more than 1,000 winners despite losing sight in his left eye in 2002 because of cancer and suffering additional vision problems more recently in his right eye because of a detached retina.) WH: He's doing OK. He's still having complications with his (right) eye. Over the last three or four years, his retina became completely detached so he's had complications ever since that, between being completely blind for a short spell to now his vision is average at best in that eye. But we still fool around with the horses. He was the leading trainer here last year at Pompano. This year when we came back, he had some more complications with the eye so we just cut back to around half a dozen horses. But they're doing good. No matter what I was doing, I always had a little stable and he was the trainer. I go every day. That's part of my routine. That's good for me because it keeps me active. I like the horses. When you're doing good, it gives you confidence and when you're not doing good, you feel it. That's all part of it. That's the ups and the downs of the business. KW: What else do you like to do with your free time? WH: I'm a complete sports guy, but I really love hockey. As far as what I do, I guess the thing I enjoy most outside of this is if I can squeeze in a round of golf with a bunch of the guys. That's the competitive nature in a person. That you're out there on the golf course trying to win. KW: Do you win? WH: Not all the time, but I get my share. KW: What do you shoot? WH: I'm about a 14 handicap. Sometimes better, sometimes worse. It's OK; nothing great. I wouldn't be bragging about it. KW: So you're not going to retire and join the tour? WH: No, I'm not going to the tour. (Laughs.) Maybe as a caddie. That would be the only way. KW: If you hadn't done this (harness racing), what do you think you would have done? WH: I grew up in a harness family. When I went to school, I wanted to be at the barn. It was never about the future, it was just about today. I guess that's how I look at life now, for today. (Retirement) is coming, but I hope it's not soon. Racing, this is what I was groomed to be. This is what I spent my whole life at. I've never had another job. I'm extremely happy. If you'd asked me when I was growing up if I'd have the career I've had, there's not even a chance. This wasn't even part of the plan. It evolved to what it was just because it happens. I just kept working. The work ethic has a lot to do with it as well. I just never stopped. And what keeps you doing that is the drive to get to the winner's circle. You're going to get beat way more times than you win. But I haven't accepted being a loser yet. I don't take losing well. I know it's part of the game, but I don't accept it. I don't say, "Oh that's the way it goes." No, that isn't the way it goes. We're going to try something different next time. I haven't lost that. I haven't been defeated yet. KW: It's great it all worked out the way it did. WH: I could never have imagined it in my wildest dreams, all the things that have happened to me in my life; to meet the people I've met. I'm doing exactly what I wanted to do. That's it all in one sentence. There it is. It's what I was raised to do. It's what I was put here for. And it's all I'm going to do. Ken Weingartner Media Relations Manager U.S. Trotting Association    

Pompano Beach, FL...March 1, 2018...While Modern Mercury and Born To Thrive shared the Wednesday night spotlight with victories in their respective $11,000 Open trotting events, they played "second fiddle" to Pompano Park's Super Hi-5 finale, as one unique ticket had the correct 7-3-5-9-6 combo worth $282,244.66. Purchased through Xpressbet, the as yet unidentified winner had the 9 to 2 chance, BJ Lorado, with Andy Santeramo driving, on top with Deepwell (22 to 1) second, Savin Rock (77 to 1) third, Deli-Craze (5 to 1) fourth and Juts Like Bud (30 to 1) fifth. The even money favorite, Cowboy Hall, made an early miscue to set things in motion for the record Pompano Park payoff. Those who may have caught the other exotic offerings in the race were handsomely rewarded, as well, as the trifecta returned $4,615.00, and the 20 cent Superfecta paid $8,239.36. On the race track, Modern Mercury scored a repeat win in her event as driver Wally Hennessey sent this five year-old daughter of Donato Hanover straight to the front and recorded fractions of :27, :56.2 and 1:25.1 before her :29.3 finale sealed the deal in 1:54.4, a seasonal best. Trained by Rob Harmon for owner John Campagnuolo, Modern Mercury hit the wire 1 1/2 lengths to the good of the late charging Second Sister, handled by the Cardiac Kid, Jim Meittinis. Pocket-sitting She's All In, with Rick Plano in her sulky, finished third while A TC Queenie finished fourth. Celebrity Artemis picked up the nickel in the classy sextet. After the race, Hennessey said, "she (Modern Mercury) is very sharp right now. I sent her because her other two wins this year were on the front and I wanted to try and get a jump on Rick's (Plano) mare (She's All In), who seems to like the pocket, and the other Rick's (Schaut) mare, (A TC Queenie), who took a week off and was outside. Tonight, it just worked out our way." Modern Mercury won for the third time this semester in nine starts, good for $22,000 so far this young season. Lifetime Modern Mercury has banked $116,875 to go along with her mark just one tick faster than her Wednesday performance. Off at 3 to 5 on the tote, Modern Mercury paid $3.40 to win. Born To Thrive, patiently driven by Rick Plano, took the feature for the male counterparts with a very sharp come-from-behind performance in 1:54.2--trotting his last 3/4s in 1:24.4 to score by 1 3/4 lengths over a quick closing Prairie Fortune, with Jim Meittinis in the bike. Boli, handled by Wally Hennessey, was next after carving up panels of :28.3, :57.3 and 1:26.1. Uncle Hanover and Skyway Pippin completed the roster in this quintet. In a post-race interview, driver Rick Plano remarked, "Well, there's not much to add as the horse did all the talking in this one. He can grind forward a long way and he is very eager right now. Seems to love to hit the racetrack." The winner, a five year-old gelded son of Swan For All, is also trained by Plano for Victor Contento, Maryann Plano and John Campagnuolo, giving the latter owner a "daily double" of his own with the aforementioned mare, Modern Mercury, a winner in the distaff feature. Born To Thrive now sports an 6-1-0 scorecard in eight starts and $30,400 in bounty. Career-wise, the gelding now has banked $226,738. Also off at 3 to 5, Born To Thrive returned $3.40 to his multitude of followers. Racing continues on Saturday night with the Miller-Tetrick Pro-Am Challenge, a five race extravaganza feature the two super-stars benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and New Vocations. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.   John Berry for Pompano Park      

Pompano Beach, FL...February 26, 2018...Rocky's Z Tam and Hollywood Sign A took the opening legs of the Fred Monteleone Memorial Series at Pompano Park, each covering the abbreviated distance of five-eighths of a mile in 1:08.2. Moneteone, a long time patron of the sport who bred and owned many notable horses, passed away last October after a lengthy battle with cancer. Rocky's Z Tam, the six year-old gelded son of World of Rocknroll, went a game first over journey for driver Ricky Macomber, Jr. to score by a neck over the pace-setting Drachan Hanover, handled by Wally Hennessey. Lyons Johnny closed stoutly for John MacDonald to finish third, just a half length away, while the favorite, Dee's Rocket Man, finished fourth. Fritzie Pic Up Man, last and far back early from his outside post, actually closed fastest of all to pick up the nickel in the classy field of seven. The early fractions of :27 and :54.3 were put up by Drachan Hanover with Rocky's Z Tam away fourth but on a first over binge engaging the leader in war around the final bend. These two raced as a team all the way home with Lyons Johnny joining the fray in deep stretch. On the line, Rocky's Z Tam, an 18 to 1 proposition, got the nod, scoring his second win of the year in seven starts. In a post race interview, trainer Jamie Macomber was proud of the pacers performance relaying, "He (Rocky's Z Tam) had been giving hints in his recent races, so I was expecting him to be competitive tonight. Ricky (husband Macomber) drove him with confidence and the horse raced with confidence. He kept digging right to the wire...very happy!" Owned by Z Tam Stables LLC, Rocky's Z Tam won for the 14th time in 99 career starts with the major share of the $12,000 purse sending his lifetime bounty to $162,196 to go along with his Hoosier Park mark of 1:50.1. Off as fifth choice, Rocky's Z Tam paid $38.20 to win. Hollywood Sign A, the nine year-old gelded Aussie bred son of Life Sign, was given very smart handling by owner-trainer Matt Krueger to pin a one length defeat on track record holder Panocchio--the latter making his 2018 debut for trainer Jim Mattison and driver Wally Hennessey. Uncmprmising Z Tam, driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr., was third, threr lengths back, while Sing For Me George and Doo Wop Hanover earned the minors in the sharp octet. At the bell, Hollywood Sign A, leaving from post seven, left smartly with Panocchio (post 8) in hot pursuit with the latter taking command through an opening panel of :27.1. Panocchio continued to lead through a half in :55.1 and seemed to have things under control. Straightening away for the drive home, Hollywood Sign A tilted out of his cozy pocket and began gnawing away until taking command a sixteenth from the wire. Hollywood Sign, with Matt Krueger in his bike              -Skip Smith Photo Second in his last four outings, Hollywood Sign A picked up his first win of the year in seven starts, vaulting his seasonal bounty to $17,385. Lifetime, it was win number 29 in 145 starts, good for $217,293. Off as the 2 to 1 second choice, Hollywood Sign A paid $6.20 to win. The Fred Monteleone Memorial Series continues with the next leg being at one mile and the $30,000 final slated for 1 1/4 miles. The $10,000 Open II pace went to American Hustle, smartly handled by Bryce Fenn. This four year-old son of American Ideal wired his opposition by stringing together panels of :26.2, 55.3 and 1:23.4 before a :27.3 finale held The Onlyest One, with George Napolitano, Jr. handling the line,  at bay by a half length in a lifetime best 1:51.2 Pointsman, driven by Rick Plano, was third while Bestinthebusiness and No Bad Dreams also picked up checks in the field of six. It was the 10th career win in only 22 career starts for owner-trainer Brian Lawrence. Third choice at 5 to 1, American Hustle paid $12.40 to win Racing continues on Monday night with a Pick-5 carryover of $10,556.70 igniting a $40,000 guarantee. The Pick-5 begins on Race 1. The Super Hi-5 Jackpot is also at record territory with a carryover of $251,878.96 going into the Monday program. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.   John Berry

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