Pompano/Northfield Drivers Challenge Set

Northfield Park racing action
Published: March 23, 2023 01:53 pm EDT

While winter tends to hang on in Northeast Ohio, things will heat up on April 11 and 12 as four regulars who drove at Pompano Park and four drivers from MGM Northfield Park will take center stage in a charity event hosted in partnership with the Ohio Harness Horsemen's Association.

When interim announcer Gabe Prewitt began in mid-February, he brought with him an idea to host the drivers challenge, something Director of Racing Dave Bianconi fell in love with.

“In association with the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association, we’re proud to host this event at MGM Northfield Park," said Bianconi. "Pompano Park had a long-storied history in the sport and we’re glad to have these four drivers and Pompano’s Goodwill Ambassador Gabe Prewitt in town for this fun competition, which also benefits two great charities. The only question is: how did we let Ohio native David Miller on Team Pompano?”

The competition will feature a $3,000 prize for the charities. Those charities that will be announced later will receive $2,000 if their team wins and $1,000 for finishing second.

Both teams will be comprised of the top-tiered talent from both facilities:

Team Northfield

  • Aaron Merriman, the 2018 U.S. Driver of the Year, enters the competition having won six straight dash titles at MGM Northfield Park. Merriman, who has more than 14,000 career victories and just shy of $105 million in earnings, has won the national dash title eight years in a row. 
  • Ronnie Wrenn Jr., who began his career in 2008, eclipsed 7,000 wins in October when he won with Just Bookem. Wrenn won the national dash titles in 2013 and 2014. He now has more than $54 million in career earnings.
  • Chris Lems joined the driving colony at MGM Northfield Park in 2017. A staple on the New York circuit for most of his career, he has become a household name in Northeast Ohio, putting together some of the biggest seasons of his career since moving. Lems has earned more than $21 million in career earnings and has won 2,746 races.
  • Billy Davis Jr., who split his time between Ontario and New York for quite some time, began driving in Ohio regularly in April 2021. Davis has eclipsed the $28 million mark in career earnings and has visited the winners' circle 3,549 times.

Team Pompano

  • Inducted into the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2014, Wally Hennessey, who resides in Florida, was a staple at Pompano Park through much of his career. The reinsman has earned more than $76 million in career earnings with 11,454 victories. Hennessey is best known for his association with champion mare Moni Maker. He is the all-time leading driver at Pompano Park.
  • David Miller entered the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame in 2014. In a career that has spanned 42 years, Miller has earned more than $276 million and has won 13,928 races. While known for driving some of racing's greatest superstars, one of his most memorable stars was Always B Miki, who he drove to a world-record 1:46 victory at the Red Mile.
  • Midwest native Peter Wrenn would travel to South Florida each year with his wife Melanie and, while training babies, would race some at Pompano Park. Wrenn, who has 1,004 training wins, has earned 10,545 driving wins and more than $82 million in career earnings.
  • The youngest member of Team Pompano is Joseph Chindano Jr., who began driving horses in 2015 and joined the driving colony in South Florida in 2019. Chindano Jr. is an accomplished trainer and driver; as a driver, he has earned more than $2.6 million and entered the winner's circle 444 times.

"This is a super event that MGM Northfield Park has organized," said Merriman on behalf of Team Northfield. "I've been privileged to drive in many of these challenges across the country. It's exciting to have one here at home with some Hall of Famers and budding young stars."

"I think this is an awesome promotion and we're looking forward to having a great time," said Hennessey on behalf of Team Pomapno. "We're glad to see the charities get rewarded as part of this competition as well."

First post on both Tuesday, April 11 and Wednesday, April 12 will be 6 p.m.

For those guests on-track, Northfield Park will offer a $1,000 Handicapping Contest on the eight-race challenge each night. On April 11, guests will select their top four finishers in each challenge race and points will be awarded based on the drivers' finishing spot. The guest with the most points will claim the $1,000 prize. On April 12, guests will need to select the winning driver and the winning team for each race. The $1,000 prize will be claimed by the guest with the most points. If the same guest wins both (or parts of both contests), a $500 bonus will be awarded. Sign-up for both contests will be from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The standard $10,000 guaranteed late Pick-4 (Race 11) and Super High 5 (Race 13) will also be featured.  

(With files from Northfield Park)

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