Day At The Track

Late closing action at Pompano

06:35 PM 21 Feb 2016 NZDT
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Svein Wassberg Velocity Vespa Just A Bee
Visiting Norwegian driver Svein Wassberg
Velocity Vespa, with George Napolitano, Jr. in the bike, socre a gate-to-wire win
Skip Smith Photo
Just A Bee, handled by Mike Micallef, stung the opposition
Skip Smith Photo
The $150,000 Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park Late Closing Series continued at the South Florida oval with Velocity Vespa and Just A Bee earning the top award in their respective divisions in the second leg of the harness racing series.
 
Velocity Vespa, handled with perfection by George Napolitano, Jr., led every stride of her mile while recording fractions of :26.4, :54.4 and 1;22.3 in route to a lifetime best performance of 1:50.2.

The six year-old daughter of I Scoot Hanover pinned the 2¼ length defeat on Show Runner, handled by Tim Maier with Pertty Music and Ed Hensley teaming up for show honors.

Lucy's Pearl finished fourth with the favorite, Totally Rusty, fifth in the septet.

Positions were relatively stagnant once the dust settled, sans a mild backside move by Lucy's Pearl to wend her way into third--briefly--with the winner never relenting any ground at any stage of the mile.

In a post-race interview, driver Napolitano related, "last week I tried to rate her a little more but, the more I think about it, sometimes these mares just don't want to be rated and this one just kind of spoke to me tonight and 'said' let me go and I'll handle the rest.

"It was a great effort on her part tonight."

Trained by Chris Oakes for owner Susan Oakes, Velocity Vespa won for the fifth time in six seasonal starts to send her 2016 earnings to $31,625.

The victory--her 27th lifetime in 102 starts--sent her earnings to the cusp of $200,000--$199,862 to be precise.

As the 2 to1 second choice on the tote-board, Velocity Vespa paid $6.80 to win.

Just A Bee, deftly handled by Mike Micallef, used different tactics this night as this eight year-old daughter of Mr Feelgood sat in the garden spot all the way before tilting from the pocket turning for home and using a :27.3 finale to track down the pacesetting Godiva Seelster, with Wally Hennessey handling her lines, to win by a length in 1:51.3.

Mach It A Par finished third for Dan Clements while Limelight rallied to finish fourth. Wild Wanda picked up the nickel in the sextet.

Indeed, it was Godiva Seelster leaving alertly and taking the lead from the get-go as Just A Bee elected to take the pocket seat with Mach It A Par next.

Right at the :27.1 opener, Micallef looked as though he might make a quarter move but ducked back in as Godiva Seelster racked up subsequent number of :55.2 and 1:23.4.

Turning for home, Just A Bee left the coziness of the pocket and, as Micallef said, "that was that."

Of the journey, Micallef said, in a post-race interview, "I had a notion to come out and make that quarter move but Wally's mare (Godiva Seelster) looked like she was on her game, so I decided against that move and stayed in the pocket hoping for some sharp fractions.

"When I saw 1:23.4, I wasn't sure if we were going to get by because the other mare is very sharp, you know!

"It worked out well."

Also trained by Micallef for owners John Mc Goff, Greg Heath and Anita Micallef, Just A Bee won for the second time this season and 42nd time career-wise. Her lifetime bounty now stands $293,481.

As third choice on the board at 3 to 1, Just A Bee paid $8.20.

Godiva Seelster, by the way, with the second place finish, extended her streak of not missing a purse check to 75 races encompassing her entire seasons as a three, four, five and, currently, six year-old.

Also on the Saturday program, the Florida Amateur Driving Club welcomed the visiting Norwegian driver Svein Wassberg and he promptly made his U.S. debut a winning one as he drove Vacation Day to victory in the first of two F.A.D.C. events.

This 10 year-old gelded son of Dream Vacation was in mid-pack most of the journey before making a three-wide jaunt around the final turn to win by three lengths in 1:59.4.

After the event, an elated Wassberg said, "I really didn't expect to win but when I pulled him out, he grabbed the bit and that was it! What a great feeling to win my first race here. My heart is beating a mile a minute!"

Off as the 6 to 1 as the fourth choice in the betting, Vacation Day paid $14.00 to his faithful.

Racing continues on Sunday night as a full field of 10 hook up in Pompano Park's $16,500 Open Handicap Pace.

Panocchio has been tabbed as the 5 to 2 morning line favorite and begins from the coveted post 5 with Dan Clements scheduled to drive.

Last week's winner, Bluehourpower, has been assigned post nine and will have the driving services of Ricky Macomber, Jr.

Post time is 7:30 p.m.

by John Berry for Pompano Park

 

 

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