Under crystal clear skies at Pompano Park on Tuesday night and no threat of any stormy weather approaching, a massive lightning storm occurred on the racetrack as Massive Lightning, driven by Mickey McNichol, flashed a final quarter in :28.3 to bolt by the favored Tater Twister in the South Florida oval's $12,000 Open Handicap Trot.
The 5-year-old gelded son of Muscle Massive had a 2 1/2-length advantage on Tater Twister (Mike Simons) at the end of the 1:54.3 journey with Gold Savage (Kevin Wallis) a half-length further back in third.
At the outset, it was Tater Twister flashing his normal early foot from the coveted five post to take command prior to the opening turn. With the quarter in :28.1 and half in a well rated :57—the slowest mid-mile time in the Open in several weeks—Massive Lightning began sawing away from fourth, reaching second and just a length away past the third station in 1:25.4.
Once they straightened away, Massive Lightning continued his tornadic brush to blow on by, widening his margin right to the wire.
In a post-race interview, driver McNichol said, "I was hoping for a bit more pace in the race and , really, I was concerned when the half was so light (:57). I thought, 'somebody outta pull on the leader and not let him get away, so I pulled, hoping that I could get a sustained drive out of my horse.
"He didn't disappoint. He just kept on truckin' until he got the job done. He went a big mile and that may have been a new mark, I'm not sure."
It was. Massive Lightning's time of 1:54;3 eclipsed his former best by one-fifth of a second.
Trained by McNichol for the Fred Monteleone Stable, Massive Lightning won for the 10th time in his career stretching 51 starts. He's banked $106,933 lifetime--$16,690 of that this semester.
As the 4-1 second choice, Massive Lightning bolted up the toteboard with a $10.20 mutuel.
The $10,000 Open 2 Trot went to Modern Mercury, driven by Wally Hennessey.
The 4-year-old daughter of Donato Hanover followed live cover third-over and swept to the lead late to score in 1:56.1. DC Flashback (John MacDonald) finished second while Swan Handicap was third. Saint Beth was fourth in the mile while Explosive Muscles picked up the nickel in the septet.
Owned by John Campagnuolo, Modern Mercury, competing in a $7,500 optional claiming event as recently as five weeks ago, is now 3-for-4 this semester with earnings of $12,625.
Lifetime, Modern Mercury has eight wins in only 32 career starts, good for $63,765.
As the lukewarm 5-2 favorite, Modern Mercury paid $7.80 to win.
Finally, the 56-1 outsider Stiletto Jake, driven by trainer Bryce Fenn, picked up his first win in more than two years by sprinting home in :28.3 to score in a condition pace in 1:53.4.
Owned by Marah Lee along with the late Bob Barker, the chestnut 10 year-old son of Spy Hard, last won on Jan. 10, 2015 and went 63 starts before this Tuesday night win.
Stiletto Jake paid $114 to win sparking a Pick-5 carryover of over $8,000 and a guaranteed pool of $25,000 for Wednesday night's Pick-5 covering races 1 through 5. "Jake's" win also set up a Pick-6 carryover going into the mid-week card of $13,553—the largest of the season. (Pompano Park)