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Florida stakes program to finally get underway
Wednesday, September 20, 2017 - by John Berry, for Pompano Park

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Pompano Beach, FL --- With Hurricane Irma finally out of the way and Hurricane Maria turning to the north, the FSBOA sponsored Sunshine State Stakes for 2- and 3-year-olds will finally get underway at Pompano Park on Saturday (Sept. 23).

The eight-race non-wagering program will be conducted after the qualifiers as Pompano readies for its pari-mutuel opening on Oct. 1.

While the vast majority of juveniles are making their career debuts, the sophomore contingent features some very talented equine athletes, including a pair of Super Night champions from last semester in Gold Star Aurora and I’m Done.

Gold Star Aurora, a 3-year-old daughter of Rock On, owned by Marianne Audley, was seven-for-eight in the win column last year with $60,702 in earnings to go along with a mark of 1:55.4. This talented sophomore filly will be making her seasonal debut in her quest to repeat as the champion of her class.

Gold Star Aurora is trained by young Maggie Audley, who took over the training chores upon the passing of her father, well known horseman Tom Audley. Obviously, she learned her lessons well as Ms. Audley posted a lofty .531 UTR with her 27 starts last year, entrusting the driving to Walter Ross, Jr.

“Dad taught me my lessons very well,” she related, “and believe me, I thank him and my mom (owner Marianne) in my prayers every night!”

Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey is expected to be in the bike for Saturday’s debut.

The Saturday kick-off also sets the stage for the continuation of the rivalry between I’m Done and Azzaro in the 3-year-old trot for colts and geldings. Last season, in a confrontation that went down to the Super Night final, I’m Done edged his rival with a lifetime best performance of 1:58.4, winding up the season with a 5-4-0 scorecard in nine starts and $70,265. Azzaro had a 4-5-0 record in his nine starts.

Owned by Troy Basista, who shared the training duties with Tom Lehmann and Jim McDonald last year, I’m Done closed his season with three straight wins for driver John MacDonald. Tom Lehmann is expected back in the bike for the sophomore debut of I’m Done.

Post time is 11 a.m.

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