Pompano Beach, FL...January 2, 2013...Pure Barre, the only mare in the field, took top honors in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap Trot on New Year's night, kicking off the new year with a splendid 1:54 lifetime equalling best performance.
The six year-old daughter of, handled by for owner-trainer Tom Gonsalves, took command after a very brief tussle for supremacy early and wired together panels of :27.4, :57.2 and 1:25.3 en route to her three length triumph over the late charging Jolenes Pinehonker (Mark O'Mara). Keystone Thomas, prominent throughout the mile, finished third for , Jr. while Jessesjo and Mr. Web Page earned the final two awards in the field of seven. Favored Andover America, off at 8 to 5 on the board, couldn't overcome the handicap of his outside post and finished sixth.
After a nine win campaign last year and $93,405 in earnings, Pure Barre won for the 16th time in her career, only feeling pressure around the final turn when Jesses Jo and driverbrushed alongside and actually into a narrow lead. That lead, though, was short-lived as Pure Barre fought back to reclaim the top spot at the top of the lane, widening her advantage to the wire.
After the race, McNichol said, "...she's been racing good right along and she won a couple of times recently on the front so I decided I'd try that strategy again...and it worked. I tried to rate her a bit after getting to the top and that second quarter breather of :29 and change really helped her. She's a classy mare and Tom (trainer Gonsalves) always has done a good job with her."
As second choice in the betting, Pure Barre paid $5.80 to win.
The Open 2 Trot went to HP Forte, driven by Mark O'Mara.
The nine year-old son of, sent off as the 4 to 5 tote board favorite, had a picture perfect journey, tilting to the far outside from third turning for home and mowing down the pacesetting Blomqvist ( ) to score by two lengths in 1:54.1, a new lifetime best.
Illusionsndreams () was third while She's All In and B C Lulu completed the top five in the field of nine.
Owned by Mel Schmucker along with Paul Johnson and trainer-driver O'Mara, HP Forte won for the 12th time in his career.
He paid $3.80 to win.
The Open 3 Trot went to Dale Gilmour's Adenium within the sulky.
The eight year-old altered son ofgot a picture perfect journey and just did get by the favorite, I Love New York ( ), to score by a neck in 1:55.
Spring Goal () rallied for third while Gale Warning finished fourth. House Money picked up the nickel in the nine horse field.
Adenium won for the 15th time in his career to send his lifetime bounty close to $150,000 and returned $7.60 to win as second choice on the board.
Finally, in the Open 4 Trot, Steve Stabile's Thekeptman, driven by, used a late rally to edge by Surface Tension in the final few strides to score a neck decision in 1:56, a lifetime best performance.
The eight year-old gelded son of S J's Photo, a $53,066 winner last season, kicked off the new year by sending his career earnings to $148,994 with this win, his 12th lifetime.
Blushing Hanover (McNichol) was third in the mile followed by Undercover Bro and Mr McRail.
As second choice in the betting, Thekeptman returned $7.20 to his followers.
Racing resumes Saturday night with a 7:05 post time with the feature race the Open Handicap Pace.
Prairie Jaguar, a 1:49 winner last week, looks to defend his new crown but will have to overcome the handicap of the outside eight post.
by John Berry for Isle Pompano Park