Pompano Park hosted the lucrative FSBOA sponsored Stallion Stakes on Sunday night with I'm Done, Atlantic Crest, Gold Star Aurora and Prairie Panther taking top honors in their respective classes and the grand pacer Panocchio notching his third straight win in the Open Handicap Pace.
I'm Done, a son of Toro Brave and a new arrival in the Jim McDonald Stable, took the $25,725 Stallion Stake for two year-old trotting colts and geldings--a non-wagering event--by reeling in arch-rival Azzaro in midstretch to score in a lifetime best 2:01.3--:59.4--:29 for John MacDonald, who was in the sulky for owner Troy Basista.
In this match race of sorts--there were only two starters--the gelding let Azzaro (Wally Hennessey) cut fractions of :29.4 and 1:01.4 before pulling prior to the third station clocked in 1:32.3 and wearing down his opponent in the lane to score by 1 1/2 lengths in annihilating his former mark of 2:04.2.
After the race, trainer Jim McDonald had high praise for both horse and driver saying, "This is just a well-mannered youngster and John (driver MacDonald) pulled him a bit earlier than in his recent starts where he had been sitting second."
John MacDonald retorted, "I had noticed that he had been pulled turning for home in his most recent races and just couldn't quite get there so tonight I said to myself, 'what the heck, I have nothing to lose by pulling a little earlier. After all, the worst I was going to be was second. But the horse was very strong in the lane--determined, I would say."
Now with a 3-4-0 scorecard in seven lifetime starts, I'm Done now has earnings of $27,821.
The second non-wagering Stallion Stake was for 2-year-old trotting fillies and featured a purse of $27,225 and it was Sergio Corona's Atlantic Crest, a daughter of Crest, that cruised to a handy victory in 1:59.1.
The youngster led every long stride of her mile and went on score a victory measuring 4 3/4 lengths off of well rated panels of :30.3, :59.3 and 1:29.3.
Famous C (Hennessey) finished second while Prairie Pixie (Mike Deters) was next. Bonnie Blue Banker and Miss Olivia Irene completed the order of finish in this quintet.
The win was the fourth straight for Atlantic Crest prompting driver-trainer-owner Sergio Corona to say, "She's kind of a small filly with a big motor. She has come a long way since the first time she saw a racetrack. I am very proud of her."
Atlantic Crest now has a juvenile bankroll of $25,099 in her brief--but blossoming--career.
On the pari-mutuel card, the $27,825 Stallion Stake for 2-year-old pacing fillies went to the 1-5 toteboard favorite Gold Star Aurora, driven by Walter Ross Jr. This daughter of Rock On hung on for dear life while drifting out late but eked out the photo finish victory--a neck--over Prairie Cowgirl (John Mac Donald) with Tay Tay M (Wally Hennessey) third.
PF Silver Classic and Golden Diamond earned the minors in this quintet.
Trained by Maggie Audley for owner Marianne Audley, Gold Star Aurora has but one single blemish on her scorecard with her 6-5-0-1 record good for $25,327.
When asked if she was concerned in the late stages of her filly's mile, Maggie, who sports a UTR over .500 during her brief career as a trainer, said, "Of course, I am concerned every time one of my horses steps on to a racetrack! These are my babies--my children! I love them!"
The winner paid $2.60 to her multitude of followers.
The final Stallion Stake for 2-year-old pacing colts and geldings and worth $29,175, went to the 1-10 betting favorite Prairie Panther, owned by Laurie Poulin along with trainer-driver Deters.
The gelded son of Royal Millennium stretched his winning skein to five with a handy 1:56.2 win, a new lifetime mark.
Prairie Panther took command at the opening station in :28 and went on to post subsequent panels of :58 and 1:28 before sprinting home in :28.2 to score by 2 1/2 lengths over Gold Star Bugsy (Hennessey) with Maybe Ned (Bryce Fenn) next. Moon Doggie finished fourth while Gold Star Spider picked up the nickel in the talented octet of Florida-bred pacers.
After the event, Deters said, "Laurie (co-owner-breeder Poulin) has bred some very good ones here in Florida and this one is no exception. He's very talented and we just hope he keeps rolling along through Super Night at the end of the month."
Prairie Panther paid $2.20 to win.
Pompano Park also featured an Open Handicap Pace on Sunday night and it was Panocchio, handled by Hennessey, remaining undefeated since his Pompano Park arrival three starts ago.
The amazing 6-year-old gelded son of No Pan Intended took command an eighth into the mile and clocked fractions of :26.3, :54.4 and 1:23.3 before a :27.3 sprint home sealed the deal measuring a half length over Sing For Me George (Kevin Wallis) with No Bad Dreams (Dave Ingraham), serving as the caboose for the first five-eighths of the journey, rallying for third.
Buddha Blue Chip finished fourth while Secretsoftheknight earned the final award in the classy septet.
Owned by Emile Johnson Jr., along with trainer Jim Mattison, Panocchio won for the ninth time in 22 starts this semester, pushing his seasonal bounty to $88,161 and $378,928 lifetime.
In a post-race interview, Hennessey said, "Jim (trainer Mattison) has him extremely sharp right now and he was on the gate and ready for the fight when the wings opened. He had to go a little to get to the top the first eighth or so but, once there, he was solid the rest of the way. As I said before, the care that Jim and (wife0 Vicki give this horse--and all their horses--shines right through when they step on the track!"
As the 2-5 favorite, Panocchio paid $2.80 to win. (Pompano)