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Driver Jim McDonald joins 1,000 win club
Thursday, February 27, 2014 - by John Berry, for Pompano Park

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Pompano Beach, FL --- Veteran driver-trainer Jim McDonald, who recently celebrated his 1,000th career training win, joined the 1,000 win driving club by guiding Etruscan Hanover to victory in a lifetime best 1:55.4 performance on Monday night (Feb. 24) at Pompano Park.

 
Dee Leftwich photo
Veteran driver Jim McDonald got his 1,000th lifetime driving victory on Monday at Pompano Park, guiding Etruscan Hanover to a win in a lifetime best performance of 1:55.4.

The Newfoundland, Canada native, generally known for his excellence in training Standardbreds, came to Florida in the mid-1970s with so little capital that he slept in a hand pitched tent on the grass adjoining Miami International Airport. Since then, he has established himself as one of the finest horsemen in the sport, having developed many stakes and free-for-all competitors that have banked close to $5 million for his owners.

Though McDonald rarely makes an appearance in the sulky these days, Etruscan Hanover vaulted him into the 1,000 club with victories in his last three outings.

"He's just a young, talented trotter that, I think, has his best days ahead of him," McDonald said. "He's a pleasure to drive and I'll pass along the credit to the horse, as I have just been a passenger during his winning streak."

Though a longtime participant in the sport, McDonald had one of his best training years in 2013, sending out 72 winners in 447 starts, good for $411,542 in earnings to go along with a very respectable "batting" average of .297. So far this young season, McDonald is winning races at a 20 percent clip --16 for 78 -- and has a .600 UDR in the bike with Etruscan Hanover the major factor for that lofty number.

As a driver, McDonald has amassed almost $3 million in purses, but these days prefers to leave the vast majority of the driving chores to the top drivers on the grounds.

"The driving colony down here at Pompano is exceptional, so I am at a point that I'd much rather leave the driving to them."

Jolene's Pinehonker wins Open Handicap Trot

Jolene's Pinehonker, photoed out of a 1:54.2 lifetime mark one week ago, got that lifetime mark on Wednesday night (Feb. 26) in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap Trot.

The 5-year-old gelded son of Pinetucky, trained and driven by Mark O'Mara for owner Lester Raber, wore down the pacesetting Andover America, handled by Bruce Ranger, in the final sixteenth of the mile to score by a half-length in the aforementioned time of 1:54.2.

Photo King teamed up with Jason Dillander to finish third while My Revenuer rallied to finish fourth. Blushing Hanover, prominent early in the mile, picked up the nickel in the field of eight.

Jolene's Pinehonker was away in good order from post six and nestled into fourth around the first turn as Andover America took command early from the seven post and carved out panels of :27.4 and :57 as Blushing Hanover was content to enjoy a garden journey with Mymomsablizzard next.

Around turn two Jolene's Pinehonker was out and grinding from fourth, reaching second just a length away during a :28 stanza, reaching the third station in 1:25.

Andover America and Jolene's Pinehonker put on a classic stretch duel with Jolene's Pinehonker edging to the front in the final few strides for his 17th lifetime success and third this year. He's banked $337,245 in just 54 lifetime starts.

In a post race interview, driver Mark O'Mara said, "He gave a good hint last week, showing strength at both ends of the mile and tonight he showed courage in surviving that first over trip on the backside during that quick quarter and then digging in when it counted."

As second choice in the betting, Jolene's Pinehonker paid $6.40 to win.


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