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Escuela takes them to school in Pompano Open Trot
Monday, October 19, 2015 - by John Berry, for Pompano Park

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Pompano Beach, FL --- On a Sunday night (Oct. 18) with several intervals of heavy showers, nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of the occasion as the ladies -- both human and equine -- were in the spotlight at Pompano Park as the track put the spotlight on the race against breast cancer.

Briefly, two mares -- Escuela and Oho Diamond -- finished 1-2 in the Open Handicap Trot, trainer Kim Sears reached a milestone in lifetime training wins and the Florida Amateur Driving Club paid tribute to all women with a sizable donation to the Go For The Greens Foundation, in their relentless journey to help conquer breast cancer.

Escuela, which in Spanish means school, took his adversaries to class with a sharp 1:57.2 win for Ed Hensley over a track dulled by heavy intermittent showers throughout the program.

The 5-year-old ABC Garland mare made a "double-bubble" surge from seventh around the final turn and went on to nail track record holding mare Oho Diamond (Mike Micallef) in the final sixteenth to score by a half-length. Cashahallic (Aaron Byron) finished third while the pace-setting Verdi finished next. Elin picked up the nickel in the field of nine.

With Verdi and Back To Peace vying for early supremacy, Escuela (post five) took back at the start and was seventh in the early going with Oho Diamond leaving and looking and winding up in sixth as Verdi waltzed down to the quarter in :30. The pace did quicken thereafter with Verdi getting to the half in :58.4 and trying to protect his lead past three-quarters in 1:28.1.

Meanwhile, Oho Diamond was out by turn two and chugging forward with Escuela now third over and on that three-wide binge around the final bend. In the lane, Oho Diamond stuck a head in front but couldn't quite hold off the surging Escuela, who covered the final panel the fastest of all -- :28.3 -- to nail the win, her seventh of the year.

Owned by Ashleigh and Ed Hensley and trained by Ashleigh, Escuela is enjoying her best year with $64,750 in bounty. Escuela, the 7-5 second choice, paid $4.80 to win.

After the event, driver Hensley said, "My mare went a big mile, considering that the track was a bit dull from all of the rain, and we got by a very tough mare in that Oho Diamond. Pretty great that the two mares beat the boys tonight on a night where we honored the ladies!"

Another leading lady in harness racing, Kim Sears, reached a milestone of her own on ladies night when Rexamillion, co-owned by Kim along with husband Jay and Richard Dunmire, took top tonors in the FSBOA Sunshine State Stakes for 2-year-old trotting colts and geldings. This altered son of Proud Bushy earned a maiden win in 2:02.2 giving Kim her 500th career training victory.

This event was one of three non-betting races contested prior to the betting card with Gold Star Briana and Livy M annexing the others.

Gold Star Brianna, a 2-year-old daughter of Basil trained by Dan Hennessey for owner Kevin Kelly, lowered her mark by more than four seconds by scoring in 1:59.1 for Wally Hennessey, keeping her record an unblemished three-for-three, although one of those wins came by disqualification.

Livy M took top honors in the division for 3-year-old trotting fillies with an ever-so-easy win for Hennessey in 2:01.4. This daughter of Proud Bushy, owned by the consortium of trainer Mike Deters, Fred Morosini, Ken Fritz and Don Fritz, kept her record spotless in Sunshine State Stakes competition with her third consecutive success. It was Deters' 899th career success as a trainer -- soon to become 900.

Deters got that 900th training win -- and a driving win, too -- on the card when Prairie Fortune, owned by Deters along with Laurie Poulin, pulled away in the lane to score a resounding win measuring 10-3/4 lengths in 1:57.4, dodging heavy raindrops to get the job done over Victory Park (Kevin Wallis) and Saturn (Bob Roberts).

Prairie Fortune, a 3-year-old son of Arapa Victory, also kept his record in this Sunshine State Stakes competition clean -- now three-for-three -- with the three wins being by 15-1/2 lengths, 9-3/4 and, this night, 10-3/4 lengths. As the overwhelming 1-20 favorite, Prairie Fortune paid $2.10 or, as fan Gary Andrews lamented, "still more than I get from the bank!"

In the Open Pace, Lyons Johnny, handled by trainer Mike Micallef for the Baron Racing Stable, got a picture perfect drive to edge by Audrey's Dream (Ed Hensley) to score in 1:52.2 over the track labeled "good" after yet another bout with the weatherman.

Out with alacrity to claim the early lead, Micallef yielded for the pocket trip three-eighths into the mile, found some room turning for home and urged his charge on by late in the mile. Raji's Blue Line (Hennessey) was third with the late charging Northern Companion fourth. Sir Jake's Z Tam, first up around the final bend, got the final check in the octet.

That win was the 26th lifetime for Lyons Johnny, a 7-year-old son of Mach Three, and sent his lifetime bounty to $269,544 -- $32,695 this year on a scorecard of 13-4-4-0. Lyons Johnny returned $5.80 as second choice on the board.

Finally, the Florida Amateur Driving Club continued their charitable efforts by presenting the Go For The Greens Foundation a healthy donation for their on-going efforts in the fight against breast cancer. With the drivers all possessing pink whips and wearing pink armbands -- beautifully made by horse owner Heddy Nelson -- Dein Spriggs won the FADC event with his own Zeitgeist ($7.60).

After that event, all of the amateur drivers converged in the winner's circle to honor Mary Wallace, a breast cancer survivor. Though Spriggs has more  than 400 races during his career, he said, "None of our drivers will be satisfied until we win the race to eradicate all kinds of cancer and our driving club is very honored and committed to be a part of that race."

Pompano Park's next racing program is Tuesday night with Just A Bee and Godiva Seelster renewing their rivalry in the Open Pace for Mares. There is also a Super Hi-5 carryover of more than $2,000. Post time is 7:30 p.m.

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