Just A Bee, off at 2-5 on the toteboard, took full advantage of the absence of arch-rival Godiva Seelster and took top honors—narrowly—in Pompano Park's Open Handicap for mares on Tuesday night.
The 7-year-old daughter of Mr. Feelgood, again handled by trainer Mike Micallef, scored her 14th win of the season—this one in 1:52.4—besting Winbak Heavenly, driven by Aaron Byron, by a neck. IM Gracie's Wigwam, with Ed Hensley in the bike, finished third, 1 3/4 lengths away. Jets Are On finished fourth with Artful Impulse picking up the nickel in the classy field of six.
There was a scramble at the outset for the early lead as Artful Impulse (Andy Santeramo), showing her usual early speed, and Winbak Heavenly, also on the bit leaving, battled around turn one forcing Just A Bee, also showing gate speed, into the third spot—but only briefly. At the opening marker, timed in :27.2, Micallef tugged on the right line of Just A Bee and she surged to the front three-eighths into the mile.
After a :56.1 half, Just A Bee had a 1 1/4-length advantage over Artful Impulse with Winbak Heavenly next and IM Gracie's Wigwam brushing up strongly from fifth with an individually timed third panel of :27.3, reaching to within a head of Just A Bee at the third station in 1:24.4.
In the lane, Just A Bee repelled "Wigwam” but in deep stretch, had to contend with Winbak Heavenly, whose rally fell short by that aforementioned neck.
After the event, driver Micallef said, "There is no such a thing as a ‘gimme' in racing…maybe in golf with a one foot putt, but not on a racetrack.
"My mare dug in and gave everything she had to preserve the win. She was game…but so were the others in there, as well.”
Owned by Anita Micallef, along with John McGoff and Greg Heath, Just A Bee pushed her lifetime bankroll to $267,821--$118,155 of that this semester.
Since being in the Micallef Stable off of a $12,000 claim last September, Just A Bee has 18 wins under her girth and $146,605 to go along with a mark of 1:50.3 established twice here at Pompano Park.
She paid $2.80 to win.
Though the 7-5 favorite, Yakekty Hanover (Kevin Wallis) won the fourth race Pentafecta event, no ticket had the 5-6-9-2-7 combination resulting in an $8,001 carryover and a $25,000 guarantee for Sunday night's Pentafecta.
Also, Pompano Park now advances to a three night-a-week schedule, adding Mondays to their agenda beginning next week. (Pompano Park)