Pompano Beach, FL --- With the track condition deteriorating quickly due to a deluge just after the start, Northern Companion (Dave Ingraham) squeaked by a stubborn Ideal Choice (Brooke Nickells) in the final stride or two to capture Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap on Saturday night (March 29) in 1:53.
Cruizin K C (Mark O'Mara) was third, a length away, while Rick's Sign finished fourth. Cartoonist, who took the field to an opening quarter in :27.1, made an untimely miscue just short of the :58.1 half and finished fifth.
|Dee Leftwich photo|
|Northern Companion, driven by Dave Ingraham, captured Pompano Park's Open Pace on Saturday night.|
Indeed, it was Cartoonist on the engine as the gate opened, out-sprinting Ideal Choice through the opener before becoming unglued midway around turn two.
With Ideal Choice now on an inherited lead, it was Northern Companion who pulled first and engaged the leader through an official third panel in :27.1 -- his :26.4 -- to stick a nose in front at the third station clocked in 1:25.2.
In the lane, Ideal Choice sprinted clear once again but Northern Companion used the grit for which he has become so well known at Pompano Park to eke out the victory by a neck.
In a post race interview, driver Dave Ingraham said, "I don't know where this Northern Companion gets his determination, but he sure can grind away with the best of 'em. I kind of sensed that the pace was slowing during that second quarter so I decided I'd better start trudging forward around that second turn before the half. It took a big final half (:54.2) to nail it down but this horse just has that great attitude. Howard (trainer Klohr) does a great job with him and, of course, that helps."
For Northern Companion, owned by Dorothy Zarza, it was his fourth win of the year in 11 starts, sending his seasonal bankroll to $31,800. Career-wise, the 6-year-old son of Cambest has won 36 times, good for $218,632. As the 4-5 toteboard choice, Northern Companion paid $3.60 to win.