Magic Wheel sat comfortably behind 3-5 favorite Unefoisdansmavie, then blew by her in the Lightning Lane to capture Wednesday's $18,000 Filly & Mare Winners Over $10,000 Life/Preferred Handicap Trot at The Meadows. Later, at Buffalo Raceway, St Lads Zena was assigned the inside post in the $10,500 Fillies and Mares Open Pace and used that advantage to edge out Delightful Syd by a nose in 1:57.2 over the fast track.
Scoring from the one hole, the favored St Lads Zena (Ron Beback Jr.) played give-and-go with Taylor Rei to the opening quarter marker. It was then a matter if the front-running St Lads Zena had any takers from the six remaining mares in the stretch run. She had plenty but gamely held them off thanks to a 28.3 last panel.
Delightful Syd (John Cummings Jr.) scooted down the 'lightning lane' but lost by a heart-breaking nose in the photo while third place finisher Taylor Rei (Ray Fisher Jr.) finished just 3/4 lengths behind.
It was first victory of the season at Buffalo Raceway and second of the year for St Lads Zena who had been racing at London and Woodbine earlier in 2014. The 5-year-old mare (Apaches Fame-Natural Ingredient) is owned by Keith Pinkowski and trained by Mihajlo Zdjelar Jr. She now has bankrolled $17,190 this year and $86,950 lifetime.
At The Meadows, Unefoisdansmavie cut out a leisurely :59 first half and appeared poised for an easy victory. But when Dan Charlino guided Magic Wheel to the Lightning Lane, the 6-year-old Kadabra-WS Balanced Wheel mare had little trouble putting away Unefoisdansmavie, downing her by 1-1/4 lengths in 1:56.2. Mistress Valentine also shot the Lightning Lane for show. Kris Hite trains Magic Wheel, who now boasts $528,220 in career earnings, for Tom Svrcek.
Aaron Merriman drove six winners on the 15-race card, capping his spectacular day by urging Delightful One home at 18-1.
Count Speed, returning to the Open ranks after a pair of victories in conditioned events, easily handled his competition on Wednesday night at Pompano Park for Wally Hennessey to extend his winning streak to three.
The 5-year-old altered son of Majestic Son, trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, took command in the sextet shortly after the wings folded and, given superb rating, wired together panels of :28.4, :58 and 1:26.1 to stop the tele-timer in 1:55, his winning margin 1 ¾ lengths over Permanent Joy (Bruce Ranger) with My Revenuer (Bryce Fenn) third and 5 ½ lengths away. Go Jesse Jo was placed fourth ahead of the 7 to 5 favorite, Jolene's Pinehonker, who was disqualified after an extended miscue through the stretch.
The win was Count Speed's third of the year in five starts and 15th lifetime, sending his career bankroll to $144,398.
In a post-race interview, both trainer and driver gave credit to the other for the Count Speed's recent successes.
Said trainer Dan Hennessey, "This is a very difficult horse to drive. He's fast, yes, but he has a mind of his own and is hard to handle. He sure doesn't like to train and it takes a very delicate set of hands—like Wally's—to get him around the racetrack without incident.
Driver Wally Hennessey put all of the praise on his brother, trainer Dan. "It's hard to keep this horse comfortable. Every little thing bothers him. If it's not this, it's that. If it's not that, it's this. Dan made a few changes over the past few weeks and it's his wisdom as a trainer that has led to Count Speed's success. It is Dan that has made this horse as good as he is right now.”
As second choice in the wagering, Count Speed paid $5.20 to win.(The Meadows, Buffalo Raceway, Pompano)