Prior to the Pompano Park opening on Sunday night, harness racing driver Rob Hoffman was reflecting on his chances with the two year-old trotting filly Bonnie Blue Banker and the three year-old tortting gelding Proud Joe T in their respective Sunshine State Stake events. "All I can tell you is you have to remember two words 'manners matters.' "These young horses are just learning and anything can happen--whether they are 50 or 60 to 1 or 5 to 2." Well, Hoffman turned out to be quite a prognosticator as he won with both of them--Bonnie Blue Banker at better than 60 to 1 and Proud Joe T at 5 to 2. Bonnie Blue Banker, a daughter of Crest, leased and trained by Dave Myrick, indeed, minded her manners as her other four opponents made miscues along the way while she strolled away to a 17 length win to break her maiden in 2:04.4. Returning a $131.00 mutuel as the longest proposition in her quintet, she pinned defeat on Prairie Pixie (Mike Deters), Miss Olivia Irene (Mickey McNichol), Atlantic Crest and the 1 to 20 favorite, Famous C, who made a miscue prior to the start. Proud Joe T, also trained by lessee Dave Myrick, led virtually every stride of his lifetime best 2:01.2 performance, scoring a win measuring 1 3/4 lengths over the latye charging Thundercrest (Dustin Ingraham) with Fifty Fifty Ninety (Jason Mac Dougall next after a mild challenge around the final bend. Savin Rock and Rexamillion were next in that octet. "Just like I said," beamed the soft-spoken Hoffman, "manners matters!" Completing the early daily double was Gold Star Brianna, a three year daughter of Basil, who remained a career perfect 10-for-10 with a handy win for Wally Hennessey in her division of the Sunshine State Stake. Timed in 1:59--last half :58.3--"Brianna" won by 5 3/4 lengths over All Star Fame (Kevin Wallis) with Trottime Fool (John MacDonald) next. I'm For Sale and Trotting Missmissy completed the rundown in that one. Related Hennessey, "she's just a nice, handy filly to drive. She need a little help to be a perfect '10'"--she was placed first in her second lifetime start--"but she'll do anything she's asked to do." Owned by Kevin Kelly, Gold Star Brianna pushed her lifetime bounty over $70,000 with the victory. She paid $2.20 to win. The other Sunshine State Stake event was off the card with Jay and Kim Sears' Azzaro, with Jay in the bike for trainer Kim, the best over I'm Done (Tom Lehmann) in what turned out to be a two horse match race. Azzaro, a son of Proud Bushy, covered the mile in 2:07.1, highlighted by a :28.4 sprint home. The first Open of the season went to All Steinam, handled by John MacDonald, in 1:53.2. The seven year-old altered son of Tell All left, yielded to Team Captain (Aaron Byron) short of the opening marker in :27.3, pulled heading into the final turn after the :56.3 half, collared the "Captain" turning for home after three-quarters in 1:24.4 and doggedly held off the tenacious Hillybilly (Wally Hennessey) to score by a neck in 1:53.2. All Steinam now has $315,759 on his lifetime card--$52,403 this semester for J P Stables of Ontario, Canada. MacDonald also had a driving double on opening night, also scoring with Sing For Me George in 1:53.1--the fastest mile of the night. Sing For Me George, a seven year-old gelded son of Bettor's Delight trained by Paul Bernardo for Joseph Martinella, Sr., won for the first time since August 3, 2015 and sent his lifetime bounty to $387,836. Kevin Wallis also had a driving double with two of his own--Keystone Bodacious and Machmemackie. Racing continues on Tuesday night with Godiva Seelster the headliner in the Open pace for fillies and mares. Post time is scheduled for 7:20 p.m. by John Berry for Pompano Park
VERNON, NY—Northern Companion rallied in the homestretch to catch and defeat the pace-setting favorite Sheer Brilliance in Saturday night’s $10,000 Open pace at Vernon Downs. With trainer Robert Hoffman at the controls in Saturday’s featured second race, Northern Companion advanced from fifth in the early going to second entering the final furlong, and then kept digging until he had completed his objective, posting a 1:52.3 win over a rain-soaked “sloppy” track and a head triumph over the fan-favorite. It was the fifth local score, the 10th this season and the 30th all-time for the 5-year-old son of Cambest-Smoke It Out, who is owned by Dorothy Zarza. The hard-earned tally lifted the bay gelding’s lifetime earnings to more than $171,000. Hoffman also finished first with the Leopold Sawyers-owned and trained pacer GPS Legacy in Saturday’s 10th event to secure his second two-win outing at the 68-program meeting. Canadian-horseman John Macdonald delivered three first-place finishes during Saturday’s 13-race program, while driver Claude Huckabone, III, trainer Edgar Clarke and his owners, Robert J. Orr and Gary J. Jonas, also enjoyed two trips to the winner’s circle during the soggy evening. DOWNS DOINGS Driver Jimmy Whittemore guided the Ray Van Dreason-conditioned pacer Moonlight Ranson to a 1:52.2 triumph in Saturday’s seventh session for owners Gus and Alan J. Johnston that produced his 81st win at the meet, and moved the 29-year-old horseman into a second-place tie on the track’s current dash-winning chart with Roman Lopez… Harris Obrien’s 4-year-old trotter Smokin’ Barrie collected his first pari-mutuel victory after Huckabone, III, sitting in for trainer Dennis Lacey, guided the 4-year-old gelding to a 2:01 tally in Saturday’s third event… Vernon will continue to offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next weekend, with first post time at 6:45 each evening… A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. Jim Moran
VERNON, NY—Dorothy Zarza’s Northern Companion advanced from last to first to capture Saturday night’s $10.000 Open pace feature at Vernon Downs. Trainer Robert Hoffman was in the sulky as Northern Companion started out dead-last. The gritty 5-year-old gelding stayed in sixth place through the half, as the favorite JK Panache cut out the mile. The bay son of Cambest-Smoke It Out rallied three wide from fourth around the final turn and kept on charging until he caught the determined pace-setter in the final sixteenth, and then zoomed on to a 1-3/4-length victory. Saturday’s score was the fourth locally and the ninth this season for the career-winner of $160,532, who now sports 29 lifetime win-credits. Leading driver Rick Plano posted four tallies during Saturday’s 13-race card, including a 152.1 triumph with the Maurice Bazinet-owned-and-trained sidewheeler Ideally Magic in the fourth race. It was the sixth win at the 48-program meeting for the rugged 11-year-old gelding, tops among representatives of the lateral gait, and tying the trotters Glorious Winner and Ulay Boko for most victories by equine performers at the 3013 meeting through Aug. 10. John Macdonald, a newcomer to the Downs this season, recorded his 12th driving double of the track’s 60th anniversary campaign. DOWNS DOINGS Plano, who raised his win total for the meet to 93, leads in four-win performances here this season with six… The Downs will offer live racing Thursday-Saturday next weekend, with first post each evening at 6:45… A revised 2013 racing and stakes calendar, as well as additional information regarding Vernon Downs, its casino, hotel, racing and promotional events can be obtained at www.vernondowns.com. Jim Moran
The pacer Northern Companion and driver Truman Gale were each prominent performers during Saturday night's 60th Anniversary celebration harness racing program at Vernon Downs.
First time local starter Northern Companion took to the big oval at Vernon Downs with style and speed to capture Saturday night's $10,000 harness racing featured Open pace.
Northern Companion, making his final start of the Pompano harness racing meeting before heading northward, paced his final three-quarters in 1:22.2 and rolled by the entire field in the stretch to score a decisive win for driver Rob Hoffman in 1:51.1 in Pompano Park's top pace on Saturday night.
Northern Companion resumed his winning ways at Pompano Park with a sharp winning harness racing performance in 1:51.3 on Saturday night.
Northern Companion, with harness racing driver Rob Hoffman in the bike, stretched his winning streak to three with a handy win in 1:51.4 over Freeneasy Hanover and Woodmere Ultimate in Pompano Park's Open I Handicap Pace on Saturday night.
Dorothy Zarza's Northern Companion overcame his assigned post position eight and, again, cruised to a harness racing victory in Pompano Park's Open Pace on Saturday night.
Northern Companion, a rags-to-riches harness racing star in 2012, will be honored by the Florida Chapter of the United States Harness Writers Association on Wednesday (Dec. 12) as the November Horse of the Month at the Isle Casino & Racing Pompano Park.
Most astute observers had written Northern Companion off when he trailed by nearly seven lengths at the halfway point of Saturday night's harness racing $11,500 Open Handicap Pace at Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.
Northern Companion turned the tables on Neptune Blue Chip Saturday night (September 22) at Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park in the first $8500 Open Pace of the new meet. The 1:54.2 triumph avenged a defeat to the runnerup in a special $7500 harness racing match- race on closing night of the spring meet two months ago.
One of harness racing's great and rare spectacles, a match-race, has been carded for Saturday evening, July 28,as ahighlight of the closing program of the 2011-2012 meet at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.
With the presence of Florida standout harness racing three year old pacer Keemosabe in the field a big upset transpired in the Saturday evening, May 19 feature for a $7,500 purse at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park. Northern Companion, in rein to Robert Hoffman, used his customary closing rush to sweep to victory at 14-1.