Day At The Track

Amateur drivers World Cup to Belgium

04:46 AM 27 Feb 2020 NZDT
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Harness racing
The USTA's Mike Tanner presented the hardware to Belgium's Piet Van Pollaert, who took top honors in the World Cup Amateur Championship on Tuesday night. Italy's Andrea Sallustio (right) was second while Andrea Fazekas, representing Hungary) was third.
Dee Leftwich photo

Pompano Beach, FL...February 26, 2020...Belgium, lolly-gagging near the back of the pack after opening night, rallied under the direction of harness racing driver Piet Van Pollaert to capture the coveted World Cup Amateur Championship title, which wrapped up on Tuesday night at Pompano Park.

The 37 year-old from Lokeren, Belgium piloted two winners on the final night to eke out a "photo finish" victory over Italy, represented by Andrea Sallustio. Hungary, represented by Andrea Fazekas, finished third, The USA finished fourth in the competition, followed by Canada and Switzerland (in a dead-heat), Spain, Sweden, New Zealand, Austria, Argentina and Denmark.
Van Pollaert, making his first appearance in the U.S., finished dead last in the first of three races on Monday night before knocking on the door finishing second in his two other drives.
He kicked off the Tuesday night festivities with a sharp wire-to-wire win with the 11 year-old mare Young American, trained by Jennifer Petrelli, who co-owns with Raynor Marsland, Jr.
Carving up smart fractions of :29.2, 1:00.1 and 1:31, Van Polllaert sent the gallant mare home on a :28.4 romp to score by 2 1/4 lengths, returning $5.80 to win.
While that win moved the Belgian up in the standings, he only had one drive left in the competition--with yet another mare from the Jennifer Petrelli Stable, Sun Belle Slippery.
Using the same tactics as in the first race, Van Pallaert sent this six year-old daughter of Relentless Yankee right to the front from her outside post and she sizzled an opening panel of :26.4. After a rated second panel bringing the pair to the half in :57.3, Sun Belle Slippery repelled a strong bid around the final bend and another in deep stretch to score the "relentless" win by a half length in 1:55.1.
Coming off a lifetime best 1:52.3 performance the week before, Sun Belle Slippery , third choice in the wagering, returned a generous $9.80 mutuel.
The competition was extremely evenly matched as Van Pollaert won two of the eight races and Sallustio won a pair, as well, Barbara Aesbischer (Switzerland) Joe Pennacchio (USA), David Drew (Canada) and Andrea Fazekas (Hungary) also won races during the competition.
Organizers Steve Oldford and Dein Spriggs were ecstatic with the competition, citing the competitive nature of each of the eight events and the camaraderie of everyone who came over from so many part of the world.
"This is what our sport is all about," said Oldford, "providing an atmosphere of peace, warmth and good will."
Mission accomplished!
by John Berry for Pompano Park

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