With Wally Hennessey's 8,000th lifetime winning drive now on the books, the milestone watchers at The Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park are turning their attention to Joe Pavia Jr. The 51-year-old horseman hailing from Utica, NY will soon be joining the 5,000 lifetime win club in the bike as he's now within a dozen after a thrilling victory in the Mares Open Handicap Pace on the Monday evening (Feb. 20) program.
Billie Blue Chip, a former Pennsylvania Sires Stakes champion also trained by Pavia, was making the fourth start of her 6-year-old campaign. She was sent to the top in the opening half, which featured fractions of :26.4 and :55.1. Billie Blue Chip was joined for a toe-to-toe battle with Nillabomb, driven by Hennessey, to the final turn in 1:23.4, before finally prevailing in 1:53. Best Around, last week's winner in the Monday evening feature, followed in next for Jason Dillander for the show spot.
Billie Blue Chip, by Western Hanover-Molly Can Do It, is now a 23-time career winner of over $544,000. Ownership is shared by Dijo Stable and Michael Rich of Florida along with Steven Held of Miller Place, NY.
In addition to the approaching wins milestone, Pavia is also poised to surpass $32 million in career purse earnings in the drivers' seat. Just where Pavia will join the 5,000 win club is open to speculation as he'll be shipping his stable to his northern base at Pocono Downs within a month.
In the Mares Open II Handicap Pace on Monday, Dovetail made a snap move out of third at the quarter to the lead and driver Fern Paquet Jr. would make it stand up to the wire in 1:54.1. It was the 5-year-old Dragon Again mare's third start in the care of trainer Jamie Paquet since being claimed by Tom St. Dennis of Hinsdale, NH. CR Hope, partnered by Ricky Macomber Jr., was a hard-closing second and Virtual Princess driven by Jason Dillander was third. (The Isle Pompano Park)