By Mike Paradise
The Terry Leonard’s Stable’s Ponda’s Prospect is the current kingpin of Hawthorne’s Open Pace after a pair of dominating victories the last two weekends with driver Casey Leonard.
The 4-year-old gelding is obviously in top form now and he’ll have to be to pass a tougher test in Friday night’s ninth race Open feature drawn by groups. Ponda’s Prospect has two more significant challenges to overcome in the $10,000 headliner: His assigned nine-slot and the arrival of a pair of east coast invaders.
The 5-2 morning line favorite Ponda’s Prospect has five Hawthorne victories this season and they have all come from the one, two or three slots. He’s 0 for 7 in his outings from further out. However, he’s raced big in his last three starts since going on Lasix after prior losing seven straight Hawthorne races.
Friday night’s new arrivals are Nitro Seelster (pp 3, Jim Lackey) and Rockin Wizard (pp 9, Ryan Anderson) and between them they have over $700,000 in career earnings and neither horse raced as a 2-year-old. In fact Nitro Seelster, a son of Camluck, didn’t make his first lifetime start until he was four when he was a seven time winner, banked almost $120,000. and took his mark of 1:49.4 at Pocono.
Nitro Seelster, currently trained by Illinois Harness Hall of Fame horseman Doug Hamilton, was a 1:50 pacer the next year at The Meadowlands for Sandbur Farms (Demotte, Indiana) and Valarie Sutton (Marengo, Illinois) . This year the pacer has raced under the care of trainer Sarah Andrews in high conditioned races and preferred events at The Meadows in eastern Pennsylvania, winning a half-dozen times and a pacing a season mark of 1:51.1 on the five-eighths oval.
Rockin Wizard, an eight-year-old son of Rocknroll Hanover, has been a steady money-maker on the east coast starting at the age of three. His best season came in 2015 as a 4-year-old when he raced out of the barn of trainer Virgil Moran, earning over $135,000 and pacing a career fastest time of 1:49 flat mile at The Meadowlands.
Rockin Wizard was acquired by his current owners Mays NY Inc. (Woodbury, New York) and Gerrie Tucker (Montreal, Canada) in November of 2016. The gelding went on to race in Canada in 2017 and for the first four months of this season before going to Hoosier Park where he competed in several Open 2 and Open 3 events for trainer Tyler George,
Some familiar names will provide the opposition Friday evening for the programmed choice Ponda’s Prospect and new arrivals Rockin Wizard and Nitro Seelster.
The first two posts will be manned by Hot Rod Dylan (Kyle Wilfong) and Rising To The Top (Cliff Bell). Slots four through seven will have Terror Of The Nite (Kyle Husted), Primo Giovanni (Travis Seekman), Sir Mammo (Ridge Warren) and Account Hanover (Juan Franco).