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Friendship Series Underway At Pompano

Published: December 9, 2019 12:42 pm ET

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The USA-Italian Amateur Competition took centre stage at Pompano Park on Sunday night (Dec. 8), and it was the American squad that edged out the Italians in the first of their two-night, four-race series.

The 53-40 edge came as Gary Barbere, driving his own Andriy Fortna, and Dein Spriggs, handling his new addition High Blue, won their respective races.

Andriy Fortuna, a 12-year-old gelded son of S Js Photo, got picture perfect handling by Barbere to score a 1;56.4 win over Sheer Flex (driven by Daniele Orsini) and Savin Rock (Pier D'Angelo). Cheeky Little Minx (Alessandro Manfredi) and Toss Cartwright Leon Cable) completed the top five.

The winner paid $3.20 to his multitude of faithful.

High Blue led every step of his journey – also clocked in 1:56.4 – as this nine-year-old Majestic Son gelding earned his 40th career win and first for new owner Spriggs.

Tymal Tullo (Tony Dinges) finished two lengths back in second. Legend Field (Pier D'Angelo) finished third while Photo Master (Daniel Orsini) and Santini (Steve Oldford) rounded out the top five.

High Blue, who was sent off as the 3-5 tote board favourite, paid $3.40 to win.

Afterward, Spriggs said "This is a very wonderful competition between two countries that love their trotting events. They have many, many talented horsemen and horsewomen over there and it's wonderful that the come over to be in this highly competitive, but friendly, competition.

"And one other thing... the two trainers deserve special recognition, as well, as Odell (Thompson, trainer of Andriy Fortuna) and Allen Saul (trainer of High Blue) have each been around horses for over a half century and they still have the magic touch to train winners. They are both amazing."


High Blue, driven by Dein Spriggs, hit the winner's circle Sunday night as ‘Team USA’ took the lead in first night action versus the Italians at Pompano Park.

‘Father Time’ couldn't dent the spirit of winning for several other ‘oldsters’ competing on the Sunday card.

Track record holder Panocchio, now nine, scored his 68th career win (44th at Pompano Park) with a near gate-to-wire score in 1:51.4 for Wally Hennessey.

Making his 199th career start, Panocchio carded numbers of :27.4, :56.1 and 1:24.1 before a :27.3 final panel sealed the deal by two lengths over the pocket-sitting War N Munn (Kevin Wallis). Always Glorious (Dave Ingraham) finished third. America Chrome, closing fastest of all, finished fourth while Bass Player finished fifth.

Trained by Jim Mattison, who co-owns wit Emile Johnson Jr., Panocchio, the splendid son of No Pan Intended, has banked $621,538 to go along with his Pompano track record of 1:48.3 set four seasons ago.

Panocchio returned $4.00 as the even-money chalk.

Father Time has yet to catch up to Prescotts Hope, either, as the nine-year-old made a ‘quarter move’ to the top and went on to score in 1:51, a seasonal best for trainer-driver Rick Plano.

Also a son of No Pan Intended, the winner, after a :26.3 opener, went on to put up fractions of :55 and 1:22.3 before coasting home in :28.2.

After the race, Plano simply said, "He's a pretty good pony!"

Prescotts Hope, owned by Nikki Hudson and Maryann Plano, now has banked $341,298.

Off as third choice at 7-2, the winner paid $9.20.

Also of note, yet another nine-year-old captured the Super Hi-5 finale, as Late Night Joke, dismissed at 18-1, nailed the pacesetting Mcjagersonthemove to win in 1:50.4.

The gelded son of Western Terror, handled by Mike Simons, was away in mid-pack as Mcjagersonthemove, with Fern Paquet Jr. in his bike, absolutely sizzled through panels of :26.1, :53.4 and 1:21.3.

From six lengths out of it turning for home, Late Night Joke began gnawing away and caught the still-game leader right on the wire. Favored Feelin Lika Winner (Wally Hennessey) was third.

Trained by Rob Rittof for Dandy Farms and the Ft Racing Stable, Late Night Joke rewarded his followers with a $39.60 mutual a sent his career bounty to $380,002.

Racing continues on Monday night with the grand final of the USA-Italian Amateur Competition with post time set for 7:20 p.m.

(Pompano Park)


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