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Wally Hennessey wins 9,000th career race

March 30, 2016
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Hall of Fame driver Wally Hennessey reached the coveted 9,000 win mark on Tuesday night at Pompano Park, securing the milestone as part of a five-win night.
 
Hennessey reached the winner's circle with Columbia Lion ($3.60) in the first race, Bodacious Becky ($3.60) in the fourth, De Vin's Girl ($9) in the seventh and Winbak Heavenly ($3.20) in the eighth, which was his 9,000th victory. He also won the 10th race with Real Temptation ($4.40).
 
In guiding the Mike Deters-trained, Barbara Jensen-owned Winbak Heavenly to victory, Hennessey achieved a plateau that began back in 1976, when he won four races the entire year to begin his career.
 
With over $60 million in purse earnings benefitting owners of horses he has driven, Hennessey started his career in the Maritimes before leaving his "homeland" to compete in the Canadian Ice Racing Classic in Ottawa, Canada.
 
Since spreading his wings and coming to the United States, Hennessey had won many prestigious events, including several Breeders Crown races, the Hambletonian Oaks, the Kentucky Futurity, the Woodrow Wilson and the Nat Ray—the latter three times with the great Moni Maker.

Since 1989, he has had 26 seasons with 200 or more wins and 26 seasons with a UDRS (batting average) of over .300.

In an interview following his milestone win, Hennessey said, "I owe my success to many, many people, including my dad, who taught me so much, my wife, who has stuck with me all the way down this path, and my brother, Dan, who is an inspiration every day at the barn."

On to the racing action, on a track rated surprisingly good after heavy storms pelted South Florida, Totally Rusty, given picture perfect handling by Matt Romano, emerged victorious in the $15,000 Open Handicap Pace for Mares in a lifetime best performance of 1:50.1. Her winning margin was a length over a stubborn Godiva Seelster, driven by Wally Hennessey with All Charged Up, teamed up with John MacDonald, third.

Just A Bee, facing a difficult task from her outside nine post, finished fourth in the field of nine while Goldstar Rockette, in a ground saving mile, picked up the nickel.

At the outset, driver Romano sent Totally Rusty blasting out of the gate while taking the early lead with All Charged Up securing a good early spot and Godiva Seelster on the prowl from the outside.

Lady Godiva took command just a stride or two shy of the hot opening quarter of :26.2 and continued up top through a :54.2 half. She showed her hooves to her foes past the third station in 1:22.1 but, shortly thereafter, Totally Rusty left the coziness of her pocket and surged along-side Godiva Seelster before pushing her nose in front in mid-stretch and then edging clear to the wire.

In a post-race interview, driver Matt Romano had high praise for both horse and trainer saying, "She tried tackling the best ones in the Isle Late Closer and that was just a bit too tough for her, so, Ross (trainer Croghan) gave her a couple of weeks off to forget about that and she came back with a vengeance tonight.

"I left with her because, one, she had the five post and, two, it seemed that there were three pretty good ones outside. I thought I'd try and get a jump on them and I did on two of them.

"Then, Wally's great mare (Godiva Seelster) gave me some cover and the fractions were lively, so it all worked out great…and Ross (Croghan) had her ready, so it worked out great."

In earning her 16th lifetime win in only 29 lifetime starts, the four year-old Rusty's For Ready chestnut, owned by the Let It Ride Stables, sent her career earnings to $318,579. As the 2-1 favorite, she returned $6.40 to win.

The Open 2 Pace for the ladies went to the aforementioned De Vin's Girl, with Hennessey guiding the 9-year-old daughter of Red River Hanover to victory in 1:52.3 for his 8,999th lifetime victory.
 
Drea's Good Powow finished second, two lengths back, for Dave Ingraham while Classic Carpet finished third for Matt Romano after sizzling through fractions of :27, :54.3 and 1:22.2.

Trained by Renaldo Morales III for owner Dan Clements, De Vins Girl, a winner last week at odds of 1-10, stretched her winning streak to two this night and returned $9.00 to win. De Vins Girl now has 35 lifetime wins and career bounty of $321,830. (Pompano Park)

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