Pompano Beach, FL --- Jaguars, known for their speed and strength, are usually found in the southwestern part of the United States, down through Mexico and into central and South America. But one Jaguar invaded south Florida on Saturday -- an equine version -- and scorched the Pompano Park five-eighths oval to the tune of 1:49 in the $10,000 Open Pace.
|Dee Leftwich photo|
|Prairie Jaguar scorched the Pompano Park oval on Saturday night, taking the Open Pace in 1:49.|
Prairie Jaguar, the Florida bred 5-year-old altered son of Spy Hard, handled by Jason Dillander, led from first stride to last, clocking remarkable panels of :27, :54 and 1:21.1 along the way to score by an unthreatened two lengths over Military Stratcom, piloted by Ed Hensley. B N Bad finished third for Rick Plano, six lengths away, while Northern Companion was next in the field of six. Rick's Sign picked up the nickel.
Off of a lifetime best 1:50 performance the week prior, Prairie Jaguar stepped up to the top rung on the ladder and, though coming into the action with the lowest lifetime bankroll in his million dollar plus field ($52,222), he took no prisoners with a performance that came within one-fifth of a second of the all-age track record.
Owned by Laurie Poulin along with trainer Mike Deters, it was the fourth straight triumph for Prairie Jaguar, having stepped up from the lowest conditioned spot just 3-1/2 weeks ago.
In a post race interview, driver Dillander said, "There's no doubt that this one had speed but speed and class are two different things. I've seen many a horse show speed in a particular class and, when they move them up in class, they fold like a tent. Tonight, this horse showed me he has speed and class! He beat a very good group of horses, a few of them on winning streaks of their own coming in. I was very impressed. And to think he accomplished this off of slower early fractions than his 1:50 mile last week (:26 and :53), well, that was something. He was pacing like a "jaguar" to the wire."
The victory sent his 2013 bounty to $21,658 -- $15,000 in December alone. He paid $6.60 to win as the second choice on the board.
The Open 2 Pace went to Southern Sport, who toured the five-eighths oval in wire-to-wire fashion for owner-trainer Luca Derrico.
The classy 6-year-old Sportsmaster gelding carved out fractions of :27.1, :56.1 and 1:24.1 before sealing the issue for driver Joe Pavia, Jr. on the strength of a :27.3 closer. Southern Sport, off as the 6-5 choice, paid $4.40 and sent his lifetime earnings to $334,599 -- $80,050 in 2013.
Two divisions of the Murdock Hanover Late Closer, honoring the first sub-2:00 performer in Pompano Park's history back in 1966, were also held with Just Fred and Itchy Pickle's victorious.
Just Fred, owned, trained and handled by Ed Hensley, just did get up in the final strides to nail the 1-5 tote board favorite, Premier, driven by Bruce Ranger, by a neck in 1:52.2. Trevor Win For Us was third in the field of six while A Fool For Mark and Cascata also earned checks.
The winner was second choice in the betting and returned $7.60 to his faithful.
Jake Huff's Itchy Pickle's stormed up from last at mid-stretch to eke out a victory in a five horse photo for Jimmy Whittemore in 1:54.1 for his 31st lifetime victory.
Itchy Pickle's was third choice in the win pool and paid $12.60.