Pompano Beach, FL --- Northern Companion earned his 34th lifetime victory on Saturday night (Feb. 8) by scoring a sharp 1:51 victory for Dave Ingraham in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Pace.
|Dee Leftwich photo|
|Northern Companion captured Pompano Park's Open Pace on Saturday night in 1:51.|
The 6-year-old son of Cambest, trained by Howard Klohr for owner Dorothy Zarza, wore down the game Lyons Johnny, handled by Wally Hennessey, to score by 1-1/2 lengths. Hillybilly and Bruce Ranger teamed up to finish third while Eastend Eddie, last in the field for the first half-mile, rallied to finish fourth. Who's Your Maddy picked up the nickel in the seven horse field.
Lyons Johnny out-dueled Electric Lad in the early stages and took the field to the first station in :27.2 with Northern Companion nestled into third and remaining in that position through the opening half in :55.3.
On the backside, three-eighths out, Northern Companion left his comfortable surroundings and began gnawing in on Lyons Johnny's lead, cutting it in half turning for home and collaring that one in mid-stretch before drawing clear late.
In a post race interview, driver Ingraham said, "He had a nice trip but, to tell you the truth, I was concerned a bit when we weren't gaining that much around the turn.
"Lyons Johnny can't be taken lightly. He gave Jaguar (Prairie Jaguar) a good tussle the week before and I wasn't sure we were going to get there but Northern Companion just has that attitude that he wants to win. He's got that winning attitude! It's a great quality in a racehorse -- a winning attitude.
"The draw helped us this week, too, because we were a lot closer from the two post than the previous week from the six."
Northern Companion's scorecard now reads 2-2-1 in six starts and the victory pushed his lifetime earnings over the $200,000 mark -- $203,082 to be exact. As the even money favorite on the toteboard, Northern Companion paid $4.00 to win.
The Open 2 Pace went to Freeneasy Hanover, who dug in late for driver Bruce Ranger to hold off Legends Luck and Wally Hennessey by a head in 1:52.2. Avantage (Dave Ingraham) finished third, four lengths away, with McGreat and Restless Yankee garnering the final awards in the octet.
The 6-year-old son of Western Ideal, trained by Jim McDonald for Ciro Gentile and Twenty Four Carrot Racing, went right to the front and carded an opening panel of :27.1 in thwarting any ideas of an early challenge. After a breather that brought Freeneasy Hanover to the half in :56, Ranger throttled his charge a bit on the backside and a :27.3 third quarter brought the pair to the third station in 1:23.3 as Legends Luck left the coziness of the pocket to challenge turning for home.
In deep stretch, the pair raced side-by-side with Freeneasy Hanover prevailing in the photo for his second straight success of the year in six starts. He's banked $156,765 lifetime -- $10,250 of that so far this young season. Stepping up from a non-winners class, Freeneasy Hanover was the public's fifth choice in the win pool and paid $14.40.
Finally, Fox Valley Griffin, driven by Rick Plano, lit up the toteboard by scoring a victory in a claiming event in 1:53.1 at odds of 52-1. The 6-year-old, trained by Richard Macomber for wife Carol and Emilinda Manzi, paid $107 to win, keying two dime superfecta payoffs (there was a dead-heat for second) of $945.83 and $756.68. The big upset also set up a Pick-4 carryover of more than $3,000 going into Sunday's racing program.
Sunday also is the kickoff of Pompano's $20,000 Championship Driver's Challenge, which gets underway with a round one pairing of Dave Ingraham and Rick Plano. Post time is 7:05 p.m.