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Pompano's Open To Northern Companion

Published: December 22, 2012 9:55 pm ET

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Northern Companion, given a picture perfect journey by driver Rob Hoffman, collared the pacesetting Keemosabe (Bruce Ranger) turning for home and went on to score a neck victory in 1:51 over Special Strides (Rick Plano) and the late charging Amillionpennies (Matt Romano) in Pompano Park’s $11,000 Open Handicap Pace on Saturday night.

Trained by Howard Klohr for owner Dorothy Zarza, the luck of the draw played a big role in the outcome of the race as Northern Companion, known for his late closing kick, left alertly from post one and stalked Keemosabe through panels of :26.2, :55.4 and 1:22.4 before pulling just past that third station to engage the leader.

At the top of the lane, the four-year-old gelded son of Cambest surged to the front and held Special Strides at bay with minimal urging.

“This horse does have gate speed, but drawing outside posts the last few starts, I didn’t really have an opportunity to use it," said Hoffman. "Tonight, I knew I’d be several lengths closer from the rail and felt confident going in that he’d perform to his high standards.”

For Northern Companion, the win was his 17th of the year — among the top 10 for aged pacers in North America — in 37 starts and vaulted his seasonal earnings over $100,000 lifetime (over $90,000 of that this year).

The Open 2 Pace went to the game veteran six year-old Avantage, scoring a 1:53.4 victory over Hay Goodlooking and favoured B N Bad.

It was Hay Goodlooking, handled by Rick Plano, who was sent directly to the front early to clock an opening panel of :28. That’s when B N Bad and Joe Pavia, Jr. brushed to the lead after three-eighths of a mile and carved up mid-mile panels of :56.3 and 1:25.1.

Meanwhile, Avantage was on a first up mission on the backside and moved into serious contention turning for home, at which time he swept to the lead and cruised to an easy win for Dave Ingraham.

Avantage is trained by Fred Grant for owner Elizabeth Zimmerman and earned his 22nd lifetime victory, sending his career bounty to $156,694.

In other news, Pompano Park’s Pick-4 wager, sporting the industry’s lowest take-out rate of 10 per cent, went untouched for the second straight program and will take a carry-over into Wednesday’s card of $13,808. The estimated pool for Pompano’s mid-week Pick-4 wager is $30,000.

(Pompano Park)

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