Pompano Beach, FL — Sorry, Image Of A Dream. Yes, I know you won the feature at Pompano Park on Wednesday night (Dec. 29) but the headline has to go to the 14-year-old warhorse Terlingua, who retired in style after winning his second race in the last 72 hours to put the icing on a career that spanned 319 career starts, leading to 54 lifetime wins.
The victory on Wednesday for the gelded son of Artsplace was orchestrated by driver Kevin Wallis, who sent Terlingua flying off the wings to take charge one full stride into the mile, continuing through fractions of :28.1, :58.2 and 1:27.1 with a :29 closer just holding Dinky Dune (Andy Shetler) safe by a nose. Warrawee Victor (Ken Holliday) was third in the mile.
Trainer John Mungillo claimed Terlingua 10 years and seven days ago, as of this writing, and the horse has come back twice after serious injury early in his career. He competed at 14 different racetracks since his very first start at The Meadowlands on June 25, 2009 and took a mark of 1:52 as a 3-year-old at Pocono. Proving his toughness, his mark this season was 1:53.2.
Mungillo has mixed feelings on the status of his grand retiree saying, “On one hand, he deserves his retirement for what he did for me over the years, but on the other hand, I wish he was four again and not 14 because he’s so strong and healthy and wants to continue racing. He’s a baby around the barn, but when he gets on the racetrack his attitude changes and he’s a bulldog and wants to race against everybody.”
Not only was Terlingua the talk of the racetrack on Wednesday, he was the talk of the toteboard as well, paying $4.20 to win.
Image Of A Dream, driven by Rick Plano, took top honors in the $14,200 Open Handicap Pace for Mares. Plano scored with the 6-year-old daughter of Rockin Image in 1:52.1, a seasonal best. Closing fastest of all from the back of her six-pack, Image Of A Dream used a :28.1 closing kick to nail the favored Sea Shadows (Wally Hennessey) a few steps from the wire. Powered By Mach (Joe Chindano Jr.) was third after cutting the mustard while Prairie Westerngal and Crisp Mane picked up the minors in the classy field of six.
At the outset, Powered By Mach used her inside post to zip off the wings and rocket to an opening panel of :26.1 with Prairie Westerngal and Tuapeka Jessie N next. Meanwhile, Crisp Mane was fourth with Image Of A Dream next and the even money favorite Sea Shadows last but on the move at the half, timed in :55.3.
That left Image Of A Dream where she could see them all but able to follow the live cover as the flow picked up on the backside. At the third station in 1:23.1, Powered By Mach was pressured by Tuapeka Jessie N with Sea Shadows second over and Image Of A Dream third over and fanning widest of all for the drive home. Sea Shadows finally forged her way to the front at mid-stretch but could not contain Image Of A Dream in the final stages.
Said Plano after the race, “I had Plan A in the works tonight, but with that early speed on the inside, I had to change to Plan B, which was to find some live, second over cover. That didn’t work out, either, so I had to go to Plan C, and I had no other choice than to follow Wally (Sea Shadows) and that turned out to be the right move.
“She (Image Of A Dream) has been racing well since we came here, so I thought we’d be right with them tonight.”
Trained by Rick for wife Maryann, Image Of A Dream won for the ninth time this season in 46 starts, good for $78,242, by far her best year. As the 7-2 third choice, the winner paid $9.60.
Of course, the “better for the bettor” highlight was the Super Hi-5 finale featuring a carryover of $63,639. With a record $459,841 wagered into that pool, the final total was well above $500,000, propelling the total handle for the night to $1,318,331, the fifth best in Pompano Park history. With the posting of the “official” sign, 456 winning tickets were sold, each worth $966.90 for the 20-cent investment.
Racing continues Sunday night with a competitive nine-race program with post time set for 7:20 p.m.