Despite being "not quite as sharp," Prairie Jaguar, with Jason Dillander in the sulky, was still able to capture his ninth straight victory at Pompano Park on Saturday night in the $10,000 Open Pace. Again, Northern Companion finished second for Dave Ingraham while Cruizin KC, driven by Mark O'Mara, finished third. Lyons Johnny, Premier and Legal Dream comprised the rest of the finish.
While the time of 1:50.3 was considered quite fast by harness racing aficionados here in South Florida, both trainer Mike Deters, who co-owns with Laurie Poulin, and driver Dillander thought that "Jaguar's" recent "forced" vacation left him a "tad shorter" this time around.
Said Deters, "It's tough to keep them razor sharp when you have to sit out a couple of weeks at a time. I think it's amazing he's stayed as great as he has been despite these obstacles."
Dillander agreed saying, "He (Prairie Jaguar) wasn't as sharp leaving tonight and it took him longer to get revved up like he usually does. It was a nice win but I must say he was not quite as sharp."
Actually, Prairie Jaguar was parked to the :26.2 first panel by Cruizin KC, showing some uncharacteristic speed when the gate popped open. At this point, Lyons Johnny, with Wally Hennessey handling the lines, was third with Legal Dream, Premier and Northern Companion next in order.
Positions remained unchanged through a :54.2 half and until no threats emerged until midway on the backside when Lyons Johnny left his spot in third with Northern Companion catching his cover. During the :28.1 third panel, not much in the way of denting Jaguar's lead occurred and the leader maintained a comfortable margin past the three-quarter station in 1:22.3.
Turning for home, Prairie Jaguar actually extended his advantage with only Northern Companion pacing a final panel faster than the winner--but still 2 1/2 lengths back at the wire. For Prairie Jaguar, the win left his 2014 record unblemished with five wins and $25,000 in bounty, pushing his lifetime bounty to $82,222.
ALLARD EKES OUT DRIVING CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY
In other Saturday night action, Pompano Park held the finals of its $20,000 Championship Drivers Series and Simon Allard eked out a narrow victory, earning 20 points on the strength of 1st, 4th and 2nd place finishes in the three events comprising the final.
Bruce Ranger, who was shut out in the first of the three events, finished with two straight wins to also earn 20 points but, based on overall point total for the entire three round event, was denied in this "photo finish."
Jason Dillander, with two second place finishes in the first two events, was shut out in the third and final event and finished with 14 points.
Allard earned $8,000 for his efforts while Ranger took home $4,000 and Dlllander earned $2,000. The win also meant a $500 stipend for Steve Bock, who bested 121 other players competing in the championship contest which began in early February.
On a more somber note, the game pacing warrior Seton Hall had to be euthanized after shattering a pastern during the fifth race on the Saturday program. The 13-year-old son of Blissful Hall was making his 362nd lifetime start, which included 55 wins and lifetime bounty of $327,248.
Trainer Don Glowacki described Seton Hall as one of the best athletes has ever been around. Last season, Seton Hall had four wins, 10 seconds and six thirds with one of his wins in 1:52.3, equalling his lifetime best performance. (Pompano Park)