Pompano Beach, FL --- In one of the most heated contests of the new year, the Cal Expo/Pompano Park Pro-Am competition, featuring the leading drivers at both tracks, finished in a dead heat with each team winding up with 124 points in the six-race event.
Wally Hennessey (Pompano) led all drivers with 56 points on the strength of three wins in the competition featuring a 13-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 scoring system.
Steve Wiseman led all Cal Expo drivers with 48 points and was second in the overall point total. Dave Siegel (Cal Expo) had 35 points, followed by Luke Plano (Cal Expo) at 32 points. Pompano amateur driver Dein Spriggs had 28 points, Joe Pennacchio (Pompano) wound up with 21 points. Pompano Park’s Bruce Ranger was next with 19 points and Cal Expo’s Rich Bertrand, burdened with two scratches, finished with nine points. As a result of the scratches, the Pompano driver finishing lowest in those two events received no points.
The competition began with trainer Don Glowacki capturing the first two events, with the pacer Howie’s Heart and the trotter Whosover, both winning for the first time in 2013.
|Skip Smith photo|
|Don and Jeanette Glowacki's Howie's Heart kicked off the competition with a sharp win for Cal Expo driver Dave Siegel.|
Cal Expo drew first blood in that opener when Dave Siegel drove Don and Jeanette Glowacki’s Howie’s Heart to a 1:55.3 score over Angry Dwarf (Plano) with Sign Of A Ditch (Hennessey) next.
After the event, Siegel said, “The credit has to go to the trainer and the horse -- not me! I wanted to leave out of there but they all seemed to be leaving so I was, pretty much, at everyone’s mercy. When I tipped him out past the quarter, he surprised me because he just kept going and going and going. When we got the lead on the backside, I became pretty confident because he really felt like he wanted to continue -- and he did.”
The Glowacki mid-card Daily Double came when Whosover, driven by Wally Hennessey, won for the initial time this year, wiring the field in 1:59.4. The fast closing Millbrook Millie was second for Steve Wiseman while Tangier finished on the board for Joe Pennacchio.
Hennessey, who had driven the trotter before, said, “The race went just about as I expected. He has plenty of gate speed and I really thought that if this horse minded his manners, he’d be alright. He’s been good for Don (Glowacki) lately and his performance really didn’t surprise me tonight.”
Whosover is owned solely by Jeanette Glowacki.
The third leg went to Mighty Nice, driven to victory by Dein Spriggs for trainer Eric Beach and the Trifecta 246 Corporation.
The 5-year-old mare won for the fourth straight time, defeating Lover’s Delight (Wiseman), longshot Lotta Drama (Luke Plano) and She Feels Good (Hennessey), among others, in 1:57.1.
Spriggs, who rarely drives pacers these days, was “a bit concerned” when he got away last in the eight-horse field.
“Geez,” he said, “I looked around and there was nobody behind me so I pulled right at the wire the first time around and the mare started grinding. I was third over on the backside and when Luke (Plano) cleared, I was second over and then fanned wide turning for home and she responded and kept digging all the way home.”
So, after the mid-point in the competition, Cal-Expo held a tenuous lead of 64-62.
In the fourth leg, McKelvie, driven by Steve Wiseman for trainer Marc Major and owner Marcel Lafrance, overcame an outside post to score a hard-fought victory in 1:58.3, just eking by Undercover Bro (Hennessey) when the latter took some missteps late in the mile. Damian Carlos N (Plano) was next and then moved up a notch while lapped on to Undercover Bro, who was placed third.
McKelvie won for only the 10th time in his career, covering 161 lifetime starts.
Hennessey drove his own Tough Trooper to a win in leg five, holding on gamely to score a well-earned win in 1:54.1 over Single Best (Siegel) and Cascata (Wiseman).
“He was all out at the end,” Hennessey said, “because I had to use him pretty hard on the backside when Single Best came to me -- and just was as pesky as he could be. He just wouldn’t leave me alone. Trooper was tough -- but all out at the wire.”
Hennessey unexpectedly won the final leg with Blow Em Away, who surprised even the driver with a near wire-to-wire win in 1:55.1. Owned and trained by Ken Sweetland, Jr., Hennessey was all over the 10-year-old as he clocked panels of :27.3, :56.3 and 1:25.2 before his :29.4 final quarter sealed the deal.
“To tell you the truth,” Hennessey said, “I didn’t think I had too much of a prayer going in but I decided to give him an opportunity because he did win gate-to-wire a few weeks ago. It was a struggle getting to the top and a struggle keeping him alive the whole way."
Blow Em Away was almost 30-1 in the betting and keyed a $16,910 superfecta finale.
Racing continues on Wednesday night at Pompano’s five-eighths-mile oval with the Open 1 Handicap Trot being the featured race. New Jennaration’s Waiting On A Woman, the top trotter on the grounds, returns to action and is the 6-5 morning line favorite to earn his seventh win in eight 2013 starts.
Last week’s Open 1 winner, Pure Barre, is all set to go along with track record holder She’s All In, I’ll Tell You What, Lugar, My Man and Mr McRail, a newcomer to the Pompano trotting scene.