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DOWN THE BACKSTRETCH: Wally Hennessey reaches major milestone

Wally Hennessey joined the 10,000-win club in the final race of the Wednesday evening program at his home base of Pompano Park in Florida, winning with the trotter Prince Of Fame in 1:57.2.
Wally Hennessey joined the 10,000-win club in the final race of the Wednesday evening program at his home base of Pompano Park in Florida, winning with the trotter Prince Of Fame in 1:57.2. - Contributed

The greatest driver to ever come from Charlottetown has become an immortal part of harness racing history.

It has been a long career from Euston Street in Charlottetown to the 10,000 win club but Wally Hennessey has made it as the 17th driver to ever accomplish the feat and one of the few to do it with under 50,000 starts.

Hennessey accomplished the record in the final race of the Wednesday evening program at his home base of Pompano Park in Florida, winning with the trotter Prince Of Fame in 1:57.2. Hennessey had his rise to fame campaigning a stable from Exhibition Park Raceway in Saint John, N.B., setting a Maritime record of 224 wins in 1983. Hennessey would relocate his family to Florida in the winter with stints as the “King” of the New York Sires Stakes in the summer months from his base in Saratoga, N.Y. Among his major wins are the 1993 Battle of Lake Erie with Cambest, the 1996 and 1997 Kentucky Futurities with Running Seas and Take Chances, respectively, as well as the 1992 Woodrow Wilson final with Americas Pastime in a world record of 1:51.4 for two-year-old pacing colts. Moni Maker is the horse Hennessey will be remembered for as he drove the Jimmy Takter trainee to wins in virtually every top North American stake as well as the 1998 Elitlopp in Sweden.

Of the drivers with over 10,000 wins, only nine of them have over 11,000 victories with Dave Palone leading the way with the record of 18,675 trips to the winner’s circle.

Across The Continent

Sunday at Flamboro Downs in Dundas, Ont., Inspector Murdoch was a winner in a $15,000 claiming class and was subsequently claimed. The four-year-old son of Pang Shui was owned by Wade MacDonald of Stanhope along with Nova Scotia owner Susanne MacKeigan. The pacer captired the $5,600 event in 2:00.3 for trainer Kyle Fellows with Colin Kelly in the bike and is now in the stable of trainer Patrick Shepherd in Ontario after paying $18,750 for the horse after claiming allowances are applied. In the same race, Gringo Star finished second for trainer Matt MacDonald and owner Allison Ramsay of Winsloe North. The one-two punch in Central Canadian harness racing is another shining example of the export market available to Island bred and raised horses.

P.E.I. Scene

Island harness racing was saddened by the loss of longtime race fan and owner Brian MacKinnon of Belfast. A co-owner of numerous horses campaigned by trainers like Francis McIsaac and Ron Matheson, MacKinnon passed away Wednesday at the age of 48. Hurricane Curtis was a favourite owned by the MacKinnon family, with the clan involved in the Selkirk Stable out of Pinette in recent years. My condolences to his family.

The final card of the winter season goes to the gate on Saturday afternoon at the Charlottetown Driving Park with a 12:30 p.m. first race post time. Adkins Hanover has been handed the outside in the Race 9 featured pace with David Dowling driving for trainer Trevor Hicken. Intended Royalty had to settle for second last week and gets the services of top Cape Breton driver Redmond Doucet in the bike from Post 5 in the $2,400 event.

Nick’s Picks

Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the CDP:

Race 1 – Miramonttogo

Race 2 – Windemere Nancy

Race 3 – Howmacs Dragonator

Race 4 – Dusty Lane Zendaya

Race 5 – Delcie Hanover

Race 6 – Pictonian Sareta

Race 7 – Lincoln Blues

Race 8 – Likely To Win

Race 9 – Adkins Hanover

Race 10 – Rollwithitharry

Nicholas Oakes' column appears in The Guardian each Friday. He can be reached at nicholasoakes@hotmail.com.

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