Pompano Beach, FL --- Senorita Santanna, a bridesmaid to Godiva Seelster in their last two encounters, finally conquered her nemisis on Wednesday night (May 6) in Pompano Park's $10,000 Mares Open Handicap Pace, stopping the clock in 1:53.4.
The 5-year-old daughter of Santanna Blue Chip, off as second choice at 5-2 and handled this night by Kevin Wallis, was away alertly, as usual, before yielding to Godiva Seelster, off at 1-5 with Wally Hennessey handling her lines, around the first turn and stalking that one through fractions of :27.3, :57.2 and 1:25.4.
Tilting out turning for home, Senorita Santanna began gnawing away at Godiva Seelster, drawing on even terms a sixteenth out and then on to a victory measuring three-parts of a length. Just Fine, longest chance on the board at 65-1, teamed up with Mickey McNichol to be third, four lengths away, while Artful Impulse finished fourth. Mach Me Not picked up the minors in the field of seven.
In a post race interview, driver Kevin Wallis related, "I had driven this mare before around the first of the year and won with her a couple of times so I knew of her talent. She has early speed so she left right out and I really didn't want to get in any speed duel early with a mare with the credentials of Wally's. He (Hennessey) rated her well to the half so I didn't know if I would be able to get by her off that, but my mare responded very well when asked and she must have paced her final quarter under :28 (actually :27.4) to get by."
Trained by Joe Sanzeri for the J L Benson Stables, Senorita Santanna won for the fifth time in 17 starts this year, sending her seasonal bankroll to $48,170. She's banked $160,156 lifetime. She returned a $7.00 mutuel to her faithful.
Godiva Seelster, with her second place finish, extended her streak of earning checks to 53, covering her every start as a 3-year-old, 4-year-old and, thus far, 5-year-old.
In the companion $10,000 Open Handicap Trot, Count Speed extended his win skein to four with a 1:55.3 win for driver Wally Hennessey.
Trained by Dan Hennessey for owners Paul and Patricia O'Neil, the Majestic Son 6-year-old did not have the easiest of journeys as he went searching for the lead early, only to be out-scooted from the get-go by Illusionsndreams (Andy Santeramo) and then Gold Savage (Mickey McNichol) through an opening panel of :27.2. Count Speed's main rival, Increditable, handled by Kevin Wallis, found a cozy spot in fourth after starting from the outside nine post.
But Count Speed kept pressing on, taking command halfway through the mile in :56.2 with Gold Savage second, Illusionsndreams third and Increditable fourth but on the move heading into the final turn.
With the three-quarters on the board in 1:25.2, Count Speed turned for home with a lead of 1-1/2 lengths but through the lane no serious threats developed and Count Speed hit the wire with that same margin over the late charging Increditable with Gold Savage third and Jailhouse Jessica rallying late for fourth. Illusionsndreams did pick up the nickel in the nine horse field.
After the event, Hennessey said, "This was not an easy trip...but, when you have an outside post with what seems to be your main rival one notch out, there is no choice but to keep pressing on. It was a pretty demanding 1:25.2 three-quarters for him but, I guess it was a demanding three-quarters for the others near the top, as well. He's (Count Speed) in very sharp form now and that's what got him through this one tonight."
For Count Speed, it was his fourth win -- all consecutive -- in six starts, good for bounty of $17,220 this semester. He's banked $215,620 lifetime. As the 5-2 second choice in the betting, Count Speed paid $7.20 to win.
Other notable performances on Wednesday night were put in by My Revenuer, Cheap N Easy and Looney Dune.
My Revenuer, driven by Tom Sells for owner-trainer Tom Petri, "exploded" by his rivals in the stretch to score a 4-1/4 length score in the $7,500 Open 2 Trot, defeating Goldstar Classic and Wally Hennessey in a season's best 1:55.3. Ex King and Andy Santeramo rallied to finish third while Tyrone Showstopper was fourth after cutting panels of :27.2, :56.4 and 1:26.3. The Muscler picked up the final award in the field of nine.
My Revenuer, a 7-year-old son of Revenue S, won for the second time this season -- 20th win lifetime -- to send his 2015 earnings to $22,821. He's banked $156,596 lifetime. As the 2-1 second choice, My Revenuer paid $6.20 to win.
Cheap N Easy, a 7-year-old daughter of Cam's Card Shark, came into the action in her conditioned pace for mares with a mark of 1:52.2 set three seasons ago at the seven-eig