Day At The Track

Plourde, Clevenger celebrate St. Valentine

05:26 AM 15 Feb 2016 NZDT
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Bluehourpower, driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr
Bluehourpower, driven by Ricky Macomber, Jr., returned to the racing wars with a win in Pompano Park's top pace on Sunday night
Skip Smith Photo

Melanie Plourde and Sabrina Clevenger each had milestone wins on Sunday night at Pompano Park as the South Florida oval celebrated St. Valentine’s with two harness racing events featuring the ladies.

The first St. Valentine’s Day event—The Sweetheart Trot—went to Back To Peace, handled by Melanie Plourde for owner-trainer Shane Arsenault.

Plourde sent Back To Peace, a seven year-old altered son of Angus Hall, right to the front and posted fractions of :30, :59 and 1:29 before a :29.1 sprint home sealed the deal measuring ¾ of a  length over Well Connected Kid, driven by Maria Howard. Magic Cheque, with Brooke Nickells in the sulky, rallied with a :28.4 closing panel to be third, just a nose back of Well Connected Kid. M C Felix was fourth while Jailhouse Lawyer finished fifth in the field scratched down to a field of eight.

The win for Plourde was her 174th lifetime but the very first on U.S. soil as all of her other wins were at Canadian tracks.

Back To Peace won for the initial time in 2016 in six starts and now has eight wins in 120 lifetime journeys to the starting gate, good for $117,775 in career bounty.

As the 9 to 5 second choice, Back To Peace paid $5.80 to win.

In the Sweetheart Pace, Sabrina Clevenger, driving Normandy Invasion, wasted no time blasting from the wings of the Hummer Starting Gate with her 1 to 5 tote-board favorite as this six year-old gelded son of Somebeachsomewhere zipped through panels of :28.2, :55.4 and 1:25 before gliding home a 10 length winner in 1:55.2 over Jet Er Done, handled by Anne Turenne, with Val’s Way and Melanie Plourde teaming up to be third.

Winning Solution finished fourth while Master Of Puppets picked up the nickel in the field of nine.

Owned by Yves Sarrazin along with Allard Racing, this Rene Allard trainee earned his first win of the season in four starts after having been absent from the racing wars for a year-and-a-half.

Coming into the action with five lifetime wins and a mark of 1:48.4, Normandy Invasion, now with lifetime earnings of $134,744, was promptly claimed out of the event for $4,000.

The many $2 investors on Normandy Invasion’s nose were rewarded with a dividend of $2.60.

For Sabrina Clevenger, this was also a milestone win—this being her first at Pompano Park.

Meanwhile, the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace featured a stellar field with combined earnings of over $3 million and, at the wire, it went to Bluehourpower, handled by Ricky Macomber, Jr., to keep his 2016 scorecard perfect—now at four-for-four.

The five year-old gelded son of Sand Shooter made a very sharp and confident quarter move brushing by Bandolito after a :27.4 opener from 2 ½ lengths out of it during a second panel officially timed in :26.4 and then posting fractions of :54.3 and 1:22.1 before stopping the timer in 1:51, his margin a half length over Arthur Blue Chip (Wally Hennessey) with Bandolito (George Napolitano, Jr.) third, 2 ½ lengths away.

Panocchio rallied to finish fourth after beginning from the outside post while Duc Dorleans was fifth in the field scratched down to seven.

In a post-race interview, driver Ricky Macomber, Jr. said, “I was confident that he’d be good off of his short rest. He trained back very well and all I had to do was give him a couple of soft reminders in the lane.

“This was a pretty good group of pacers assembled here tonight so I was very proud of his performance.”

Trained by Jamie Macomber for owner Wilbur Eash, Bluehourpower now has lifetime earnings of $536,881.

As a very slight 2 to 1 favorite in this evenly matched field, Bluehourpower paid $6.20 to win.

The $12,500 Open 2 Pace went to Dedi’s Dragon, driven by George Napolitano, Jr., in 1:51.2.

Johnny Grippa, handled by Dan Clements, finished second after battling the entire route through panels of :26.3, 54.4 and 1:23.1—finishing a length away at the line.

Whogoesfirst, with Wally Hennessey in the bike, was third while Four Socks rallied stoutly in the lane to be fourth. Maddysonofagun picked up the minor award in the field of nine.

Dedi’s Dragon, fourth early on, brushed up strongly on the backside to engage Johnny Grippa in battle, finally forcing that one into submission in deep stretch.

Owned by John McGill, along with Brian Carsey and the J L Benson Stable, Dedi’s Dragon, trained by Paul Holzman, won for the 19th time in 97 career starts with this win pushing his lifetime bounty over the $750,000 plateau--$755,706 to be precise.

The 2 to 1 second choice returned $6.20 to win.

Also on Sunday night, the $12,100 conditioned pace went, in an upset, to Bunkerhill Bill, handled by Mike Micallef for owner-trainer Gene Miller.

This five year-old son of Voracious Hanover, a winner in his last start at even-money, successfully jumped up a couple of notches in class to score a 1:52.2 win at 25 to 1 odds this time around, using a late burst to collar the pacesetting Mister Virgin (George Napolitano, Jr.) by a neck with Teranadawn (Kevin Wallis) just another nose back in third. Heart Felt, prominent the entire route, finished fourth while KR’s Power Surge finished fifth in the field of 10.

Bunkerhill Bill won for the 16th time during his career measuring 71 starts to push his earnings over the “century” mark--$100,816, to be precise.

A mutual of $53.60 awaited those who has a $2 win ticket on Bunkerhill Bill.

Racing continues on Monday night with first post scheduled at 7:30 p.m.

by John Berry for Pompano Park

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