Pompano Beach, FL…March 2, 2020…On a historical Sunday evening at Pompano Park, Wally Hennessey captured the “Masters of the Mile” title by besting seven of the greatest drivers in harness racing history.
In the four race competition, with points structured similarly to purse structure payments, Hennessey scored 113 points to edge out Bruce Ranger (79), David Miller (68), Tony Morgan (60), Peter Wrenn (41), Tim Tetrick (26), Dave Palone (22) and Kevin Wallis (19).
Hennessey opened the competition by taking the first half of the early Daily Double, guiding the five year-old Pet Rock horse Oberlin to an 11 to 1 win in 1:54.1.
Starting from the outside eight post, Hennessey found little choice but to take back at the start and was 10 lengths back as Too Much Duncan (Wrenn) took the field to the opener in :27. Shortly thereafter, Dave Miller sent Danze to the top, tripping the timer at the half in :55.3.
On the backside, Dave Palone brushed Hugh Hefner to the front and that one took the field through the third station in 1:24.2 with Hennessey’s charge now sixth, fourth lengths off the top. Once they straightened away, Oberlin got in high gear and rolled on by, holding off R Gauwitz Hanover (Tony Morgan) safe by a half length in 1:54.2.
Too Much Duncan was third over Danza and Hug Hefner.
Oberlin, trained by Gaston Lareau for owner Richard Lareau, paid $24.20.
In the second leg, Hennessey scored his second win, guiding Marianne Ayers-McNichol’s Rockntouch to a gate-to-wire win breaking the beams in :27, :56 and 1:24.2 before touching the wire in 1:53.1.
This eight year-old gelded son of Rock N Roll Heaven repelled serious bids around the final bend and through the lane to score by a half length over Itsnoproblemman (Ranger) with Byby Landon (Tetrick) another neck back in third. Stick With Cramer and Harry Terror were next in the octet.
Off at even money on the tote-board, Rock N Touch paid $4.20 to win and pushed his lifetime bounty over the $280,000 mark with this win–his 38th career-wise.
In the third leg, Bruce Ranger had Always Glorious in high gear from the get-go, clocking sizzlers of :26.2, :53.2 and 1:21.3 while opening up a double-digit lead turning for home before coasting to a 1:52 win over the late charging Keystone Steam (Morgan) and V Power (Wallis) with Classic Gent and Fritzie Pic Up Man rounding out the top five.
Trained by Rick Plano for owners Maryann Plano and Ernest Durse, Always Glorious, a five year-old altered son of Always A Virgin, scored by 8 3/4 lengths and paid $7.20 to win.
Going in to the finale, the competition for the top prize was whittled down to three with only Hennessey, Ranger and Morgan in the hunt for the “Masters of the MIle” title.
In an event that saw several lead changes throughout the mile journey, it was the David Miller driven Outkast Blue Chip who rallied in deep stretch to score the 1 1/2 length win over Rocknbeach (Wrenn) with Hennessey next with Pointsman to seal the crown.
Brigadier Bronski was fourth while Gibbs was next in this classy octet.
Trained by Jake Huff for the Beauty Bridle Racing Stable, Outkast Blue Chip, paid $19.80 as fourth choice to vault over the $250,000 plateau in lifetime bounty.
Though the “Masters of the MIle” had completed, the action was far from over as Ranger hopped on the bike back of the track record holder Panocchio and put on an exceptionally game performance in squeaking by the favored American Hustle (Bruce Fenn) in 1:52.1.
Away third from the rail as American Hustle put up numbers of :27.1 and :56.1, Ranger sent the now 10 year-old Panocchio on a backstretch binge, severely denting an official :27.2 third panel to stick his head in front past that third station in 1:23.4.
It was war all the way home as these two traded punches right to the wire with Panocchio earning the nod by a neck. Caviart Reagan, closing fastest of all, finished third for Dave Ingraham, followed by Neptune and Windsun Gotham.
Trained by Jim Mattison, who co-owns with his wife, Vicki, and Emile Johnson, Panocchio earned his 70th career win to send his lifetime earnings to $638,538. He paid $11.20 to win.
Hennessey then completed his epic night by winning both ends of the late Daily Double, scoring with Rub Of The Green in 1:51.4 and Bass Player in 1:52.3, completing his grand slam.
The Florida Amateur Driving Club hosted their annual Tetrick-Miller Pro-Am competition at Pompano Park on Sunday night with Team Tetrick edging Team Miller benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation and New Vocations.
Steve Oldford was the star of the evening guiding two winners in the three race competition while Ron Cusimano kept the Miller team in the ballgame with a win, as well.
Oldford’s Mego Moss took the opening leg of the competition, giving his 11 year-old gelded son of Amigo Hall a picture perfect drive, zipping his warrior out of the cozy pocket with 5/16s remaining and on to an insurmountable lead before coasting to the wire in 1:57, a seasonal best.
It was the 36th career win for Mego Moss, who has banked $409,482 during his career of 205 starts. UKnow What To Do, with Jmaes Dunn in his sulky, was next, followed by High Blue, driven by Captain David Miller.
Mego Moss paid $17.60 to his faithful.
About 22 minutes later, RonCusimano sent Everyone’s Talkin off the wings in a hurry and scored a wire-to-wore win in 1:57.1, carving out panels of :28.1, :58 and 1:27.3 along the way.
Santini (Oldford) was next followed by the Jamie Marra driven Glide in The Wind.
Cusimano co-owns this Jake Huff trainee with the consortium of Angelillo, Tanzer and Sirianos.
The nine year-old gelded son of Donato Hanover won for the 28th time in his career, sending his bounty to $$285,918.
As the even-money chalk, Everyone’s Talkin paid $4.20 to his multitude of followers.
With but one point separating the two teams going into the finale, Oldford took care of business, again driving one of his own, Smart Flight, on a wire-to-wire mission landing him a scant head up at the wire in 1:58.1.
War Cry Hall was second for Leon Cable while Skyway Jaguar, driven by Ron Cusimano, was a fasts closing third.
As second choice on the board, Smart Flight paid $8.20 to win.
After the “Official” sign was posted, the festivities continued in the winner’s circle as Tetrick and Miller were in the winner’s circle to present $4,000 checks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and New Vocations.
Said Oldford in the winner’s circle, “David and Timmy have been so valuable in making his a yearly tradition and, in doing so, this shows what harness racing can do for the community and far beyond.”
MIller explained that the Make-A-Wish Foundation is very close to his heart and said, “it’s really wonderful that this wonderful organization can fulfill the dreams of children in need. It’s a wonderful feeling that our sport can have such a positive influence in our society today!”
Tetrick, similarly, sung the praises of New Vocations, which as helped thousands of horses find new homes after their racing careers are over. He lamented, “A good example of their wonderful work hits right here as Hurricane Howard and Just Like Lloyd, both that have raced here at Pompano Park, have found new homes after their career in racing.”
The Florida Amateur Driving Club has donated well over $200,000 to charitable causes since their inception–over $50,000 over the past five years alone.
As Spriggs said, “This is only possible due to the generosity of our members who donated all of their earnings from driving so we can have a positive impact in our society through our grand sport!”
Racing continues on Monday with a fourth race pentafecta carryover of $6,337.60, a Pick-6 carryover of $1,255.56 and a Super Hi-5 jackpot which has ballooned to $44,948.86. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.
by John Berry for Pompano Park