The highly anticipated Pro-Am series, sponsored by the Florida Amateur Driving Club (FADC), lured the largest crowd of the season at Pompano Park on Sunday night and witnessed the greatness of the legends as they upended the amateur drivers 75-60 in the three race series.
Legends Wally Hennessey, Dave Ingraham and Mickey McNichol reached the winner's circle in their respective events with the big winners being the Christian's Harness Horsemen's Association, the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Tomorrow's Rainbow and the Make-A-Wish Foundation, all receiving substantial donations due to the generosity of the FADC membership donating all driving earnings to the cause along with the participating legends in Sunday's events.
Hennessey kicked off the festivities by guiding his very own Groovey Kid ($4.20) to a 1:58 win over amateur Jamie Marra's Explosive Motion with Steve Oldford (amateur team) third. Show Me The Magic (John Campagnuolo, amateur team) was fourth with Watkins (Mickey McNichol) next in the octet. It was the 300th career start for Groovey Kid, who now has 51 lifetime wins.
Ingraham then stepped up to the place and guided Cash Hit ($2.60) to a popular win in 1:55.1, a season's best for the six-year-old gelded son of Uncle Peter. Holton (Hennessey) was second while The Big Muscle (Dein Spriggs, amateur team) was third. For A Dreamer (BIlly Muggleston, amateur team) was fourth despite being parked the mile from the nine post and Big Sky Rocket (Bruce Ranger) was fifth in the field of nine.
Cash Hit is trained by Rob Rittof for owner Martin Budkey and now has a career bankroll of $176,267.
The finale saw Mickey McNichol giving Nobel Legend ($3.40) superb handling to score in a "typical McNichol rated mile" in 1:58.1. Everyones Talkin (Ron Cusimano, amateur team) was second while Magic Bob (Ranger) was next. Forbidden Song (Tommy Santeramo, amateur team) finished fourth while Better Call Saul (Tony Dinges, amateur team) was next in this field of eight.
Noble Legend is trained by Jack Rice for Team Rice Racing and Vogel and Wags Nags Stable. The 10-year-old altered son of Kadabra had 47 career wins and $390,643 in bounty.
After the event, the four legends autographed hats in the winner's circle to the delight of the crowd.
Of course, the big winners were the four charities benefiting from the generosity of all of those participating.
The Christian Harness Horsemen's Association was established in 1983. The CHHA shepherds the Way, the Truth and the Light to its many members.
Tomorrow's Rainbow provides grief support for children ages three through high school and their caregivers experiencing grief, loss or trauma.
The Standardbred Retirement Foundation provides humane care and services for horses in need and have been a safe haven for retired racehorses that need care or rehabilitation. They are the largest Standardbred adoption agency in the country.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation makes a wish come true every 14 hours for children that are not as fortunate in terms of health issues.
The Florida Amateur Driving Club has provided aid to many charitable organizations to the tune of some $240,000 since their inception.
The next FADC event takes place on March 15 and 16 with eight of the greatest drivers to ever sit in a sulky gather for a multi-race competition, including Wally Hennessey, David Miller, Kevin Wallis, Peter Wrenn, Yannick Gingras, Dexter Dunn, James MacDonald and Andrew McCarthy.
Controversial Dead-Heat In "Mini" Feud
The controversial "mini-feud" between Hall of Famers Wally Hennessey and David Miller continued as the guest judges, heretofore referred to as the "three blind mice," declared the March 6 event a dead-heat after reviewing the photo finish.
"I thought I held him safe," said Hennessey, after his mini hit the wire in 1:53.2 for the 1/32 mile event that as held the between the fourth and fifth pari-mutuel races. "I sent up an objection to the judges stand but they had already fled the scene!"
Miller retorted, "I really couldn't tell...and that's what the judges are for and that's why they have a photo finish camera. I thought maybe I got there...but it was close, at least in the judges eyes.
"I thought the guest judges did a great job...and that's all am going to say on the subject."
Of course, the mini-race, sponsored by the Florida Amateur Driving Club, was to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Tomorrow's Rainbow.
Six Straight For Prairie Panther
Wrestling is famous for its tag-team events in which a pair of warriors do battle in their "squared circle" know as the ring.
On Sunday night at Pompano, trainer Mike Deters had a tag team of his own going postward in the $14,200 Open Pace and they finished one-two in that event with Prairie Panther providing the knockout blow with a gallant :27.3 finale to stop the timer in 1:51.
The win was the sixth straight for the gelded son of Royel Millennium, keeping his undefeated 2022 season in tact for Deters, who co-owns with breeder Laurie Poulin.
Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey was, once again, in the bike, as the Panther kept gnawing away first over the final three-eighths of the mile to score by a length over stablemate Rebellious (John MacDonald), the other member of this Deters tag team.
Seeing Eye Single (David Miller) rallied late to be third while Maxdaddy Blue Chip went an evenly rated mile to be fourth over Scootnroll, who picked up the nickel after being last from the one post all the way around.
At the outset, Cinnamon Beach zipped off the wings and took charge early and the two tag-teamers, Rebellious and Prairie Panther, also were hot leaving in search of a closer spot, landing in second and third, respectively, through a :26.2 opening sizzler. Positions remained unchanged past the half in :55.1 and, once on the backside, that's where things began to accelerate further as Prairie Panther began gnawing away first-up, looking the leader in the eye at the third station in 1:23.2.
As they straightened away for the drive home, Prairie Panther stuck his head in front and began edging away as stablemate Rebellious found a seam along the pylons to move into second and complete the tag team result.
"He (Prairie Panther) is some brave horse," said Hennessey after the race. "He's handy, he's gutsy, he's as gallant as they come and Mike (trainer Deters) has done an amazing job with him throughout his entire career. I mean, you just don't see this very often at all in racing. There not machines, you know, but I am almost beginning to believe that the Panther is one."
Garnering his 53rd career win, Prairie Panther vaulted his lifetime earnings over the half-million dollar mark to $504,800.
Off at 3-5 on the toteboard, he paid $3.40 to win.
The $12,600 Open II Pace went to Actor Hanover, driven by owner/trainer Kevin Wallis.
The six-year-old altered son of Captaintreacherous led just about every stride of the mile to score in 1:51.1, a seasonal best.
Launching through an opening quarter in :25.4, Actor Hanover went went sawing through panels of :54.3 and 1:22.3 before a :28.3 finale got him to the line a half-length better than the fastest-closing Agedchedar Hanover (John MacDonald) with Real Peace (David Miller) next another nose back after going first-up on the backside and threatening around the final bend. Double Metal, also in the four-horse picture, was fourth with Alluneedisfaith N getting the minor award in the septet.
Actor Hanover now sports a 2-1-1 scorecard in seven starts with $19,110 this semester and $228,446 lifetime.
He paid $4 to win.
Racing continues on Monday with a $15,000 guaranteed pool on the Pick-4, bolstered by an industry low 12 per cent takeout and a Super Hi-5 finale with a carryover of $37,702. Post time is set for 7:20 p.m.
(With files from Pompano Park & FADC)