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Pena Pays Pompano A Visit


Published: January 21, 2012 9:56 pm ET

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Trainer Lou Pena described his weekend visit to The Isle Casino Pompano Park as a holiday combined with a scouting mission for later in 2012.

One of harness racing's most widely known figures stopped by for a wide ranging live TV trackside interview during the Saturday evening, January 21 program.

"I go a long way back from my years in California with a lot of the guys that are racing here and doing well, including my old friend Ed Hensley, and the other guys I knew at Cal-Expo such as Rick Plano, Tim Maier and Tom Wine," Pena stated during the interview. "Ed has told me a lot how great it is to be at Pompano and I wanted to see it for myself. To be out here trackside in 72 degrees on January 21 is really great and everything the guys have told me about it is true. I'm considering applying to race here next fall, and if I'm accepted I'll be sending some of the better horses in my care down here for sure, that's how much I like it."

Pena also spoke of the ties that a current Pompano claiming trotter, Phipps, has to a charitable organization in support of epilepsy based in his former home city of Sacramento, California and of his friendship and successes with Pompano seasonal driver George Napolitano Jr.

The 43-year-old trainer was asked to assess his prospects of continuing to post training statistics in 2012 to follow up on his remarkable successes of 2010 and 2011 when his stable won over 500 times from just over 1,700 starters for purses of over $7.1 million in each of the past two years.

"People know far and wide from the internet stories that my entries are not being taken at The Meadowlands, but the sense of the situation I get from talking with their senior management, not Mr. Gural directly though, is that they might just be trying to give the other people a bit of a head start in 2012 so I wouldn't get too far ahead," Pena said. "So the way I'd describe it, and the way I think of it, is it's a bit of a 'time out' and I'm not sure if I'll get the chance to win another training title there or not. I think for now I have exhausted all of the legal avenues of appeal so I'm at their mercy on whether The Meadowlands would take my entries in the future. In the meantime, I am very thankful to the tracks that do allow me race with Yonkers, Chester and Pocono at the top of that list. I still have a stable of 35 horses at Gaitway Farms in New Jersey and depending on how much backing I have from the owners a third straight year of earning $7 million in purses and perhaps racing at Pompano by this fall will be my goals. As far as getting back in at The Meadowlands, I will never, ever give up hope."

Bombs Away In Open Pace

The Saturday evening, January 21 weekly edition of the Open Handicap Pace produced a huge upset as all of the starters with assigned outside post positions failed to hit the board.

Dan Clements had one of the longshots, Red Star Paylater, into full stride quickly to take command at the quarter in :26-seconds before the outside challenge appeared from Ricks Sign and driver Fern Paquet Jr. well before the half flashed up in :55-seconds. Red Star Paylater put away the challenge of Ricks Sign after a backstretch duel to the final turn in 1:22.4, but lurking in the pocket all the way was 28-1 bomb Kommander Hawk. In the stretch, Anthony Napolitano brought out Kommander Hawk to stop the clock in 1:51.1. Daley Deposit Only, in rein to Dan Daley, closed next best for the place position and Red Star Paylater persisited for third. Favoured Pacinello had a poor start and finished eighth and last, and another top choice, Brave Call, did not make it into the top five finish order in spite of a second over trip.

Kommader Hawk was offered in mid-December for a claiming price of $12,500 and has made it all the way to the top of the heap at Pompano under the care of trainer John McNeil III. The six-year-old Pro Bono Best-Spinners Hawk gelding is owner by Ellen McNeil of Vernon Centre, New York.

Kommander Hawk lead off the Pick-4 wager at 28-1 and claiming pacer Change Your Luck concluded the Pick-4 at 8-1, resulting in a Pick 4 carryover of $3,663 in addition to the weeknight guaranteed pool of $5,000 when racing resumes on Monday evening, January 23.

(Pompano Park)

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