Pompano Beach, FL...February 8, 2014...Northern Companion earned his 34th lifetime victory on Saturday night by scoring a sharp 1:51 victory for Dave Ingraham in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Pace.
The six year-old son of, trained by for owner Dorothy Zarza, wore down the game Lyons Johnny, handled by , to score by a length and a half. Hillybilly and teamed up to finish third while Eastend Eddie, last in the field for the first half mile, rallied to finish fourth. Who's Your Maddy picked up the nickel in the seven horse field.
Lyon's Johnny out-dueled Electric Lad in the early stages and took the field to the first station in :27.2 with Northern Companion nestled into third and remaining in that position through the opening half in :55.3. On the backside, three-eighths out, Northern Companion left his comfortable surroundings and began gnawing in on Lyons Johnny's lead, cutting it in half turning for home and collaring that one in mid-stretch before drawing clear late.
In a post race interview, driver Ingraham said, "...he had a nice trip but, to tell you the truth, i was concerned a bit when we weren't gaining that much around the turn. Lyons Johnny can't be taken lightly. He gave "Jaguar" (Prairie Jaguar) a good tussle the week before and I wasn't sure we were going to get there but Northern Companion just has that attitude that he wants to win. He's got that winning attitude! It's a great quality in a racehorse--a winning attitude. The draw helped us this week, too, because we were a lot closer from the two post than the previous week from the six."
Northern Companion's scorecard now reads 2-2-1 in six starts and the victory pushed his lifetime earnings over the $200,000 mark--$203,082 to be exact.
As the even money favorite on the tote board, Northern Companion paid $4.00 to win.
The Open 2 Pace went to Freeneasy Hanover, who dug in late for driverto hold off Legends Luck and by a head in 1:52.2. Avantage (Dave Ingraham) finished third, four lengths away, with McGreat and Restless Yankee garnering the final awards in the octet.
The six year-old son of, trained by for Ciro Gentile and Twenty Four Carrot Racing, went right to the front and carded an opening panel of :27.1 in thwarting any ideas of an early challenge. After a breather that brought Freeneasy to the half in :56, Ranger throttled his charge a bit on the backside and a :27.3 third quarter brought the pair to the third station in 1:23.3 as Legends Luck left the coziness of the pocket to challenge turning for home.
In deep stretch, the pair raced side-by-side with Freeneasy prevailing in the photo for his second straight success of the year in six starts. He's banked $156,765 lifetime--$10,250 of that so far this young season.
Stepping up from a "non-winners" class, Freeneasy Hanover was the public's fifth choice in the win pool and paid $14.40.
In the $20-$25,000 claiming handicap, Ahead Of the Curve was given a picture perfect drive by George Napolitano, Jr. and captured that event in 1:52 over the late charging Rick's Sign, handled by. The winning margin was 2 3/4 lengths with Red Hot Yankee third after posting red hot fractions of :26.1, :53.3 and 1:22 with Ahead Ofthe Curve right on that one's tail the entire way, only leaving the pocket turning for home and scoring easily from there.
Masters Champion and Mach Wheel also earned minor awards in the field of six.
Trained byfor the Baron Racing Stable, Ahead Ofthe Curve, an eight year-old son of , won for the 27th time during his career and pushed his lifetime bounty closer to $300,000--now at $298,149.
He paid $3.60 to win as the public choice.
Finally, Fox Valley Griffin, driven by, lit up the tote-board, by scoring at victory in a claiming event in 1:53.1 at odds of 52 to 1.
The six year-old, trained by Richard Macomber for wife Carol and Emilinda Manzi, paid $107.00 to win, keying two dime superfecta payoffs (there was a dead-heat for second) of $945.83 and $756.68.
The big upset also set up a Pick-4 carry-over of over $3,000 going into Sunday's racing program.
Sunday also is the kickoff of Pompano's $20,000 Championship Driver's Challenge, which gets underway with a round one pairing of Dave Ingraham and.
by John Berry, for Isle Pompano Park