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France Prevails In Driving Challenge

Published: December 3, 2018 12:02 pm ET

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French driver Jean Philippe Bazire was the star at Pompano Park on Sunday night (Dec. 2) in the highly anticipated France-USA Challenge.

Bazire, 32, had two wins and a third in the three-race competition as the French team out-slugged the home team 101-82.

The French native kicked off the festivities with a gate-to-wire win with Skyway Priss, a 10-year-old daughter of Cincinnati Kid trained by Dale Gilmour for owner 1940 LLC.

It was the first win on U.S. soil for Bazire, who competed last year at Pompano Park and had a second-place finish and a third-place finish in his only two starts at the southern Florida oval.

"I knew this is a classy mare with a lot of money earned at over 40 wins in her career (46 to be precise coming in to the action), and I thought if I could take the lead early, I would be competitive,” Bazire said after the race.

Competitive she was, as she clicked off fractions of :29, 1:00.3 and 1:30.4 before a :29.1 finale sealed the deal.

Love Hunter, driven by Ron Cusimano, finished second while Holiday Spirit, handled by visitor Emmanuel Puniere, was third, which left France with a 37-24 lead after Round One.

Skyway Priss paid $6.00 to win as the second choice in the betting.

Bazire then led Power And Faith, trained by George Coblentz for owner Don Brainard, to a wire-to-wire win in 1:59. The duo held off a determined effort by You Cant Habit, with Carl Garofalo in the bike, by a half length.

Put On The Day, driven by Tony Ciuffetelli, finished third. The French contingent earned a narrow 31-30 decision for the round and an overall lead of 68-54 heading into the finale.

Off at 18-1, Power And Faith paid $38.00 to win.

In the final leg, the French-bred Verdi D Em, driven by Malta's Omar Caucki, who is a relatively new arrival in the U.S., mowed down the favourite, Cantab Lindy, with Brent Davis, in 1:56.

In that dash, Cantab Lindy, who had started from Post 9, ground his way to the front after a swift opening panel in :27.1. The eventual winner was parked every step while the leader carded fractions of :56.3 and 1:26.2.

In the lane, Verdi D Em charged to the front at mid-stretch and on to a two and a half-length win, which was a new lifetime mark for the nine-year-old gelded son of Neoh Jiel.

Trained by Rob Harmon for owner John Campagnuolo, Verdi D Em sent his lifetime bankroll to $296,874 and rewarded his faithful with a $34.80 mutuel.

The final tally was 101-82, with the French team taking home the top honours and Bazire recognized as the leading driver with 38 individual points.

In accepting the recognition for his achievement, Bazire said, "It's an honour to compete here in Florida; I love the hospitality and the weather. Of course, I am happy to pick up the wins here. I was so close last year, so this night will be in my memory forever."

Bazire added, "I guess I got some genes from my relative, Jean-Michel Bazire, who has won many top races, including the Prix d'Amerique with Moni Maker in 1999.”

Noted as an all-around horseman throughout the industry worldwide, Jean-Michel has 6,086 career wins – 472 of which have come as a jockey.

In Pompano's $10,000 Open I Handicap Pace, Panocchio, driven by Wally Hennessey, put on yet another game performance, as the eight-year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended held off Casimer Richie P, with John MacDonald in the bike, and Dinky Dune, handled by Andy Shetler, by a half length in 1:51.4.

"He (Panocchio) might have a little age on him now, but he hasn't lost one iota of his gameness and will to win,” Hennessey said after the dash. “He is something else."

Panocchio, a gelded son of No Pan Intended, now has a 63-41-12 scorecard from 166 career starts, good for $563,138.

Off at 6-5 on the tote board, Panocchio paid $4.60 to win.

Pompano racing will continue on Monday night with a guaranteed $10,000 Pick-4 pool, a Pick-6 carryover, and a Super Hi-5 carryover of $41,394.

Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.

(Pompano Park)

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