Kommander Hawk, driven for the first time by Matt Romano, led every step of the way to win the $12,000 Open 1 Pace at Pompano Park on Saturday night in 1:51.4.
The 7-year-old son of Pro Bono Best, trained by John McNeil III for owner Ellen McNeil, burst out of the gate en route to a stinging opening quarter of :26.1, carded mid-mile fractions of :55 and 1:22.3, and then dug in late to hold off the fast closing long-shot Avantage, handled by Dave Ingraham, to win by a half-length.
Woodmere Ultimate, off at 2-1 with Wally Hennessey in the bike, made a determined bid on the backstretch to challenge the leader around turn three but that lively third quarter took its toll in the lane and that one finished third. Monet C C (Bruce Ranger) was fourth with Special Strides (Rick Plano), the 5-2 second choice, picking up minor honors.
Arezzo Hanover, backed at 5 to 2 off of his lifetime best 1:50.3 performance one week ago, made a break after the opening panel while on the move and finished last.
While trainer McNeil summed up the effort simply by saying, "he raced good,” it was driver Romano who was a bit more affirmative in his thoughts. "John (McNeil) said that he likes the front end so I let him rumble a little out of the gate. When I saw :26.1 for the opener, I was a bit concerned so I tried to give him a bit of a breather. When Wally's horse (Woodmere Ultimate) came at me, I popped the earplugs and he really responded well and was digging hard to the wire.”
For Kommander Hawk, it was his 15th lifetime victory sending his career earnings to $107,007. The win mutuel was $12.60, keying a $217.20 exacta and $566.60 trifecta. (Pompano)