Pompano Beach, FL...January 25, 2014...Northern Companion and Rick's Sign shared the spotlight as they captured the duet of co-features Saturday night at Pompano Park.
Northern Companion, handled by Dave Ingraham, captured the $8,500 Open Handicap Pace, grinding forward from last the entire last lap to nail a 1:52.1 victory in the final strides.
The six year-old son of, trained by for owner Dorothy Zarza, achieved his initial victory of the year by a half length over Thebestofjoel ( ) with Southern Sport ( , Jr.) next, 2 1/4 lengths away. Restless Yankee finished fourth and the 7 to 5 favorite, Eastend Eddie, picked up the nickel after making a very confident brush to the front just after the :26.4 opener and carding subsequent panels of :55.3 and 1:23.
Assigned post eight in the field, Northern Companion got to move in a notch with the scratch of Electric Lad and was away in a relaxed manner as Thebestofjoel and Southern Sport mixed it up early with the ladder carving up the opening number. Meanwhile, Northern Companion was out by turn two but still sixth about a half dozen lengths away from the leader. On the backside, the pace quickened but Northern Companion was still able to dent the official :27.2 third quarter and was about three lengths away turning for home.
At that point, Eastend Eddie was being attacked from all sides by Southern Sport and Thebestofjoel with Northern Companion grinding widest and fastest of all, collaring the remaining competition near the wire.
For Northern Companion, it was his 33rd lifetime victory, sending his career bounty to $197,282.
In a post race interview, driver Dave Ingraham said, "...I'll tell ya, this horse can take a lot of air. He just keeps mowing forward and doesn't quit. He can be kind of lazy leaving but, when he gets going, he REALLY gets going...and, of course, it helped that there were no jaguars (meaning Prairie Jaguar) in there tonight."
As co-second choice in the wagering, Northern Companion paid $7.20 to win.
In the $20,000-$25,000 Claiming Handicap worth $8,500, Rick's Sign, handled by, went a monstrous mile grinding out a 1:53 victory measuring three parts of a length over Red Hot Yankee ( ) with the favorite Premier third in that same photo, Gentleman Friend finished fourth with Just Fred fifth in the quintette that, front to back, were separated by just a shade over two lengths.
Red Hot Yankee cut the moderate opening fractions of :27.2 and :57.1 with Rick's Sign out and pressuring from the second turn all the way home, the latter engaging the leader through a wicked :26.4 third panel and then finally squeaking on by inside the sixteenth pole for the win.
For Rick's Sign, it was his 49th career victory--second this year--with this nine year-old's lifetime bankroll now at $322,577.
Highland Thoroughbred Farm co-owns Rick's Sign with trainer.
As second choice in the win pool, Rick's Sign paid $9.00 to win.
Carry-overs in both the Pick-5 and Pick-4 wagers highlight the Sunday night card, which gets underway at 7:05 p.m.