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McDonald Joins 1,000-Win Club

Published: February 26, 2014 11:15 pm ET

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Veteran driver/trainer Jim McDonald joined the 1,000-win club by guiding Etruscan Hanover to victory in a lifetime-best 1:55.4 performance on Monday night at Pompano Park.

The Newfoundland native, generally known for his excellence in training standardbreds, came to Florida in the mid-1970's with so little capital that he slept in a hand pitched tent on the grass adjoining Miami International Airport. Since then, he has established himself as one of the finest horsemen in the sport, having developed many stakes and Free-For-All competitors that have banked close to $5 million for his owners.

Though McDonald rarely makes an appearance in the sulky these days, Etruscan Hanover vaulted him into the 1,000-win club with victories in his last three outings.

"He's just a young, talented trotter that, I think, has his best days ahead of him," said McDonald. "He's a pleasure to drive and I'll pass along the credit to the horse, as I have just been a passenger during his winning streak."

Though a longtime participant in the sport, McDonald had one of his best training years in 2013, sending out 72 winners in 447 starts, good for $411,542 in earnings to go along with a very respectable "batting" average of .297. So far this young season, McDonald is winning races at nearly a 20% clip -- 15 for 76 -- and has a .600 UDRS in the bike with Etruscan Hanover the major factor for that lofty number.

As a driver, Mc Donald has amassed almost $3 million in purses, but these days, prefers to leave the vast majority driving chores to the top drivers on the grounds.

"The driving colony down here at Pompano is exceptional, so I am at a point that I'd much rather leave the driving to them," he said.

When asked about working on the next 1,000 wins in a sport that, in many cases, is based on chance, 'Jimmy Mac' says, "Not a chance...not a chance!"

Jolenes Pinehonker Wins Open Trot

Jolenes Pinehonker, photoed out of a 1:54.2 lifetime mark one week ago, got that new speed badge on Wednesday night in Pompano Park's $10,000 Open Handicap Trot.

The five-year-old gelded son of Pinetucky, trained and driven by Mark O'Mara for owner Lester Raber, wore down the pacesetting Andover America, handled by Bruce Ranger, in the final sixteenth of the mile to score by a half-length in the aforementioned time of 1:54.2.

Photo King teamed up with Jason Dillander to finish third while My Revenuer rallied to finish fourth. Blushing Hanover, prominent early in the mile, picked up the 'nickel' in the field of eight.

Jolenes Pinehonker was away in good order from post six and nestled into fourth around the first turn as Andover America took command early from the seven post and carved out panels of :27.4 and :57. Blushing Hanover was content to enjoy a garden journey with Mymomsablizzard next.

Around turn two, Jolenes Pinehonker was out and grinding from fourth, reaching second just a length away during a :28-second stanza, reaching the third station in 1:25. Andover America and Jolenes Pinehonker put on a classic stretch duel with 'Pinehonker' edging to the front in the final few strides for his 17th lifetime success and third this year. He's banked $337,245 in 54 lifetime starts.

In a post race interview, O'Mara said, "He gave a good hint last week showing strength at both ends of the mile and tonight he showed courage in surviving that first over trip on the backside during that quick quarter and then digging in when it counted."

As second choice in the betting, Jolenes Pinehonker paid $6.40 to win.

(With files from Pompano Park)


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