by John Berry, for Pompano Park
Pompano Beach, FL — Pompano Park kicked off its 2018-2019 season on Sunday night (Oct. 21) with driver Mike Simons earning his 4000th career win and Lucan Hanover eking out a photo finish win in the feature.
Simons earned his milestone victory with Blueberry Heaven, a 4-year-old son of Rock N Roll Heaven in the second race, scoring with the Mickey McNichol trained gelding in 1:54.3 in a near gate-to-wire effort.
Owned by Marianne Ayers along with Anne Marie Hubbard and Heddy Nelson, Blueberry Heaven posted panels of :29, :57.4 and 1:26.3, fighting off challengers with a stout :28 finale. The win was the fifth of the year for Blueberry Heaven, sending his 2018 bounty to $33,484.
Said the humble Simons after the race, “It’s really no big deal. After all, I’ve been at this a long time and to see these young kids and their talent in the bike thee days, I am just fortunate to be able to compete with them.”
The $10,000 feature—the $10,000 Open Pace—went to Lucan Hanover, driven by John Macdonald, by a whisker over track record holder Panocchio, handled by Wally Hennessey.
The game 8-year-old altered son of Western Ideal, stalked the pace-setting Panocchio through fractions of :27.4, :56.2 and 1:25 before engaging in a war then entire length of the lane to get up in the final stride. Speed Trap (Matt Krueger) was third while Kotare Yael and Hot Art picked up the minor awards.
Trained by Jack Rice , who co-owns with Pine Hill Racing and Vogel & Wags Nags Stable, Lucan Hanover pushed his 2018 scorecard to 6-2-4 in 24 tries, good for $58,575. He’s banked $1,149,971 lifetime to go along with his 1:48 mark at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Remarked Macdonald after the event, “I really didn’t know if he got there or not but, let me tell you, these are two great, game horses—Panocchio and Lucan Hanover—and we got the better trip tonight and that was the difference.”
The third leg of the FSBOA sponsored Sunshine State Stakes for the 2-year-olds were contented as four non-wagering events and Proud Sophie, Damien Hall, Natasha and Mister Marvalous reached the winner’s circle.
Proud Sophie, driven by Jay Sears, took advantage of a miscue in the lane by rival Kerry B to score her maiden win in 2:05.3. The Kim Sears trainee, a daughter of Proud Bushy, is owned by Jay along with David Fishman.
Damien Hall, a son of Cash Hall trained by driver-trainer Jim Mc Donald for the Pacing Pretty Stable, pulled away in the lane to score in a lifetime best 2:05.1 for his second career win in three starts.
Natasha, a sharp looking Six Of Diamonds filly, made a quarter move to the top and then used a :28.3 finale to score handily in 1:57.4 for her third straight win in Sunshine State Stakes action. Wally Hennessey was in the sulky for trainer Kim Sears and owner Jay Sears.
Finally, Mister Marvalous, a gelded son of Delmarvelous trained by Kim Sears for co-owners Jay Sears and Richard Dunmire also kept his record unblemished in the Sunshine State Stakes by scoring a wire-to-wire win in 1:59.3-28.2 for Wally Hennessey.
Racing continues Monday night with first post set for 7:20 p.m.