One of Ontario's top harness racing young driving talents, Doug McNair, acknowledges that things couldn't possibly have been any better in his first working visit to the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.
"I drove at Woodbine in Toronto last Saturday and this has been a great trip though a little too short" McNair said. "I'm visiting my dad, Gregg, who is among the many Canadians that come down here to train horses over the winter months. He's bought a farm about 60 miles from West Palm Beach and has over 30 horses there. The weather has been terrific, nearly 80 degrees (26C.) every day, and I'm extremely thankful to get listed for five drives on short notice for my first time at Pompano Park. To win my first drive here is just the icing on the cake" he added.
In the Tuesday evening, January 31 program's 3rd race, the accomplished 22 year old reinsman was at his crafty best. In a field of $8,000 claiming pacers contesting a $4,700 purse, McNair piloted Final Flash from post one and patiently sat third until the final turn. He then guided his charge to the outside to edge past the pacesetting Prime Time Talent in rein to Fern Paquet Jr. By mid-stretch, Final Flash was clear of the field and drawing away to handily hold off Soaring Viking driven by Dan Clements while Prime Time Talent held third. Peter Pellegrino trains Final Flash, an 8 year old-Peas Of Work gelding, for Baron Racing Stable of Horsham, PA.
The win in his first start at Pompano continues a succession of firsts that Doug McNair has accomplished in the early years of his career. In 2010, he earned the distinction of becoming the sport's first driver to win more than 500 races in a single year which also helped him supplant Matt Kakaley as the youngest driver in history to surpass 1,000 lifetime winning drives. His first winner was less than four years ago, in February of 2008 at London's Western Fair (Eagle Kay) and his purse earnings total is already quickly closing in on $13 million.
"I really like it here at Pompano and it was good to see for myself how fast they go here because of the warm weather all year round. This visit was a little too short and I'm heading back to Ontario on Thursday. It's so competitive on the Woodbine and Mohawk circuit that you can't stay out of the line-up for very long. But I'll be back to Florida as often as possible for sure."
MCNEIL'S STREAK ENDED BY RACING LUCK
The streak has ended at six for 24 year old trainer John McNeil III to win at least one race on a Pompano program. In Tuesday evening's 12th race, McNeil's lone starter on the card was claiming pace mare Cajun Pearl who enjoyed a pocket trip for driver Anthony Napolitano but was hopelessly blocked in traffic coming to the wire.
In spite of Tuesday evening's setback, it was a very substantial accomplishment by the youngest conditioner on the Pompano backstretch. McNeil is easily on pace to surpass his top career year in 2011 when he amassed $111,000 in purses at Vernon Downs, Saratoga Harness, and Pompano - his starters raked in more than $30,000 in purses in January of 2012, lead by Open class pacer Kommander Hawk.
Post time is 7:15 p.m. Eastern every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at The Winter Capital Of Harness Racing. Free race night live streaming, handicapping selections by Hall of Fame inductee John Berry, and replays are in the 'racing' tab at www.theislepompanopark.com along with the racing schedule through July of 2012 for The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.