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Updated: Record Handle At Pompano Park

Published: May 21, 2015 12:51 am ET

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Maybe driver Wally Hennessey had an inkling that the Super Hi-5 mandatory payout event, held Wednesday night at Pompano Park, might just get the headlines over the duet of co-feature "Winners Over" events.

Not taking any chances, Wally swept all three!

With the "must go" Super Hi-5 jackpot swelling over the past 40 programs going into the mid-week program, an astounding amount well over $1,000,000 pushed the total pool to $1,247,507, sending the Wednesday handle at the track to $1,381,817. The pool produced a single race handle record for the track.

After Hennessey guided Brianna Bennett's American Gold to victory in that finale, 2,114 astute handicappers were in line to cash in to the tune of $501.86 for each 20-cent investment covering the 6-5-8-9-11 combo, which featured the two co-favourites finishing one-two and two of the three other "single digit" performers finishing three-four.

It was quite a night for the Hennesseys -- driver Wally and trainer Dan -- and owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil as the Hennessey-O'Neil connection captured both featured "Winner's Over" events on Wednesday.

First, in the $8,500 "Winner's Over" pace for mares, Godiva Seelster, back in action after a week's vacation, stretched her amazing streak of "in the money" starts to 54 with a handy 1:52.2 win measuring two and three-quarter lengths over Senorita Santanna (Kevin Wallis), with Winbak Heavenly (Matt Romano) next. Just Fine and Cheap N Easy picked up minor awards in the sextet.

Godiva Seelster has not missed a single purse cheque covering all of her starts as a three-year-old, four-year-old and, now, as a five-year-old.

The daughter of Camluck engaged in a brief early battle lasting all of an eighth of a mile before taking command from Senorita Santanna and then strolling through panels of :27, :56.2 and 1:25.1 before sealing the deal with a :27.1 finale for her fifth win of the year in eight starts. She has been second in her other trio of trips back of the gate.

In a post race interview, driver Wally Hennessey said, "I know I have said this before, but, it's true. This mare knows how to take care of herself in the stable area or on the racetrack. She's just such a handy thing. She is amazing the way she has remained this sharp for so long...very rare, especially among mares. I asked her early for some speed and she made the lead around the turn and, when we turned for home, I didn't have to asked her for anything. She just knew what to do on her own!"

Trained by Dan Hennessey for the aforementioned owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, Godiva Seelster sent her seasonal bounty to $33,250 and lifetime earnings to $143,054.

Even-money on the toteboard, Godiva Seelster paid $4.20 to her many followers.

In the companion, $8,500 "Winner's Over" handicap trot, Verdi, also trained by Dan and driven by brother Wally for the O'Neils, scored a handy win measuring two and a half lengths in a lifetime-best 1:54.3. Gold Savage (Mickey Mc Nichol) finished second, with My Revenuer (Robbie Hoffman) next. Dream Lake finished fourth while On The Tab was fifth in the septet.

Verdi, a four-year-old son of Kadabra, left alertly -- but cautiously -- from his outside seven post, grinding forward and reaching the lead three-eighths into the mile after a :27.4 opener by Gold Savage. Once on top, Verdi clipped off subsequent fractions of :57 and 1:25.2 and never had an anxious moment thereafter, striding home in :29.1 for his new mark.

After that event, Wally Hennessey grinned, "It's been quite a night, especially for the O'Neils. I'm very happy for them! This horse has really come into his own this season. He can leave...he can brush...he's handy...he's solid...and I love the fact that he digs in every step of the mile. I hope he can keep going!"

Verdi now is officially seven-for-nine this year, good for $26,205 in seasonal earnings. He's banked $140,311 lifetime.

As the 3-5 "chalk," Verdi paid $3.20 to win.

Racing continues on Saturday night with a fresh start to the Super Hi-5. Post time is 7:30 p.m.

(With files from Pompano Park)

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