LA Always Amartini, confidently handled by Joe Chindano Jr., scored a gate-to-wire win in the $14,200 Open Pace for mares on Wednesday night (Feb. 23), stopping the timer in 1:52.2.
The exceptional seven-year-old daughter of Always A Virgin used a hot :26.2 opener to deter any other foe from trying for the top spot and then capped off the mile with a :27.4 closer while putting the skids on any possible threats to the wire.
Image Of A Dream (Rick Plano) finished second after leaving with alacrity as well and finding the garden spot, which she maintained all the way, while Ourlittlemiracle (Wally Hennessey) rallied late for show honours. Roll With Angel and Crisp Mane completed the order of finish in the compact quintet.
“This mare seems to have really blossomed here in South Florida," said Chindano after the race. "Her first couple of starts down here were kind of so-so but she really has come around to be a really terrific mare. Angie (trainer Coleman) does a remarkable job with her keeping her in tip-top shape and this mare is all business when she hits the racetrack. The first quarter was pretty quick but she got a bit of a breather for the next half. I chirped to her around the final turn and off she went!”
“I can’t tell you how proud I am of her," added trainer Angie Coleman. "She’s not real easy to be around but she’s all in the game on the track. You know, we’re just two mean girls (Angie and Martini) that want to be left alone to do our work.”
Owned by Fox Racing Inc., LA Always Amartini sent her 2022 scorecard to 4-1-3 in eight starts, good for $34,584 in this young year and $323,321 lifetime.
As the even-money toteboard favourite, she paid $4.20 to her multitude of backers.
The $12,600 Open II Pace for the ladies went to the 28-1 outsider Sunrise Hanover, patiently driven by Dave Ingraham, in 1:54.3.
The five-year-old daughter of Somebeachsomewhere sprinted home fastest of all to score by a length over For Sharks Sake (Andy Shetler), with the pacesetter Prairie Westerngal (Kevin Wallis) third. Protect Blue Chip rallied late for fourth while Primo Extremo picked up the nickel in the field of nine.
As usual, Prairie Westerngal used her gifted gate speed from the eight post to take charge just a few strides off the wings only to yield to For Sharks Sake right at the opening marker in a brisk :26.4. A couple of strides after that, Prairie Westerngal brushed back to the front and took the field to the half in :56.2 and final bend in 1:25.2. Turning for home, Prairie Westerngal tried to protect her advantage but, at mid-stretch, For Sharks Sake stuck her head in front but she couldn't contain the surging Sunrise Hanover, who used a :28.1 finale to score the upset win.
Owned and trained by Mike Simons, Sunrise Hanover won for the third time this year, not only sending her 2022 earnings to $12,670 but achieving a new lifetime mark in the process. She's banked $77,927 career-wise.
As the longest shot on the board, Sunrise Hanover rewarded her faithful with a $58.80 mutuel, keying a $2 trifecta payout of $2,006 and a $713 Pick-4 payoff for the 50-cent ducat, despite the fact that the sequence started with an even-money proposition, followed a 4-5 chance and a fourth choice play at 6-1.
Racing continues on Sunday night with the Italian-American Amateur Challenge. The program includes a $15,000 guaranteed Pick-4 pool with an industry low 12 per cent takeout, a Pick-6 carryover and a Super Hi-5 finale, which has ballooned to $20,507. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.
(With files from Pompano Park)