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Kakaley On The Move

Published: March 10, 2010 11:37 pm ET

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The youngest driver in harness racing history to surpass 1,000 wins, Matt Kakaley, has wrapped up his first season in the driving colony in South Florida and he's on the move for the next phase of his career.

"I'm leaving Florida on Thursday morning to go to Streetsboro, Ohio to pack up my things and I'm moving to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to race at Pocono Downs right from the start of their new meet on March 23," he explained in a live TV pre-race interview before the Wednesday, March 10 program at the Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park.

In a four month stay at the Isle, Kakaley certainly made a substantial impact with his driving ability and left a positive impression from his soft spoken and polite manner. From just over 500 drives he amassed 61 wins for purse earnings of almost $390,000. In addition to his nightly driving duties he was able to help his mother, Linda, train her string based at Pompano this meet as well.

"So far I only have a commitment from one trainer, Ron Burke, for driving at Pocono," Kakaley says. "I'm hoping once I get moved there and established that more work will come my way. Of course I understand that can take time, during the summer stakes season I'll be willing to travel, and that I have to earn my place," he adds.

Kakaley will mark his 22nd birthday on March 19th. One of his top memories from this stint in Florida was piloting three-year-old pacing filly Special Sweetheart to a 1:52.1 track record performance shortly after he arrived last November. As he ends this chapter of his career and prepares to begin the next one at Pocono Downs, he has high praise for the driving colony he's leaving behind.

"The drivers I was on the track with here in Florida are as talented a group as I think you could find most anywhere," Kakaley observes. "I would say out of all the guys here, I watched Wally Hennessey the closest and picked up a few good things from him. I don't know yet if I'll be back to Florida for sure in October [for the 2010-2011 meet], that's the catch drivers' life I guess. I just hope wherever I am people will keep putting me down to drive so I can do the best I can for them."

Sells A Testimonial To Patience

While the most youthful driver in the Florida driving colony, Matt Kakaley, was ending his current tenure on the Wednesday evening program, one of the track's top veterans, Tom Sells, turned in a pair of superb come from behind wins on the March 10 card.

Sells was at his crafty best in a field sweeping win with $6,000 claiming trotter Southern Beauty. Sells had his charge away last in the field of eight starters and stayed there approaching the half before methodically mowing down all rivals to bring the six-year-old Wewering-Ludas Lollilop mare up to the win in 1:59.1 over Grit Your Teeth, with George Napolitano Jr. in tow, and T A Loris Triumph, in rein to Fern Paquet Jr. Southern Beauty is trained by Don Glowacki for owner Jamie Marra of Delray Beach, FL.

Three races later, in an event for Florida bred claiming pacers, Sells faced the gate from the outside post 9 with 25-1 offering About Me. He settled the five-year-old Ludicrous-Mystic Raque gelding into fifth in the early stages and then executed another sweeping win in 1:57 over race favourite Gavino, with Andy Santeramo, and Sixxpak, partnered by Gaetan Lamy. About Me is owned and trained by Mike Somerville of Lehigh Acres, FL.

Trotting specialist Jan Johnson made his first start of the meet a winning one on the Wednesday evening program. No Im Not, a three-year-old Windsongs Legacy-A Youre Adorable filly was a sure footed and handy winner in her lifetime debut in 2:00.1 for owner Jorgen Jahre Jr. of Norway.

When racing resumes on Friday evening, March 12 at 7:05 p.m. EST, the $15,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace is featured with the highly anticipated match-up of Im Just Special, Esmeralda Semalu and Bling.

(Pompano Park)

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