By John Furgele
For much of the country, winters are dark, cold and long. When you wake up, it’s dark and cold; when you leave work around 5, it’s dark and cold. And for the most post, that’s how it goes from November through the mid-March.
That’s why watching racing from Pompano Park is a nice winter diversion. The horses look warm, the track looks warm — and smooth — and even though it still gets dark in Florida at 5, it just doesn’t look as dark. Even track announcer Gabe Prewitt sounds warm.
Pompano Park is an overnight track. They aren’t going to wow winter watchers with stakes races, six-figure invitationals and $40,000 opens, but they’ll give you a fast track, fast times and honest efforts — in warm surroundings.
Harness racing is quirky, we all know that. There are thoroughbred tracks in Arkansas, West Virginia and Louisiana, but none of those states have harness racing. Other southern states like Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi have neither thoroughbred nor harness racing.
Florida gives folks in the southern part of the country both forms of horse racing.
Pompano races from early November to late May, which is perfect because that’s when weather patterns change, and once May comes along it starts to get really hot in southern Florida. There are 126 days of racing in the 2019-20 season and if you peek at the calendar, there are no major stakes on the schedule. Most weeks, the track races Sunday through Thursday, leaving Friday and Saturday for places like the Meadowlands, Yonkers and some of the other winter tracks like Buffalo and Miami Valley.
One thing to like about Pompano is its Sunday evening card. It’s just a nice way to end the weekend. Most of us work Monday through Friday, and then run around on Saturdays and Sundays. By Sunday evening, it’s time to relax, unwind and gear up for another work week grind.
If you’re like me, you watch a lot of sports on the weekend and if there isn’t something compelling on you might watch a movie like The Shawshank Redemption for the 167th time. By Sunday evening, I want the TV off; by then, I’ve had it with all the movement. But, I like to check in on Pompano. For some reason, watching the pacers and trotters running around at the
track on Sunday is soothing. It’s a good way to de-stress and perhaps make a buck or two.
Gabe Prewitt is the track announcer at “The Pomp,” and his signature Twitter tag line of #SendItIn has plenty of followers. In fact, he dubs himself the Chief Executive Officer of the SendItIn Army.
To say that Prewitt runs around is an understatement. In addition to being the voice of Pompano, Prewitt also is the track announcer at The Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky, and serves as a race analyst at the Meadowlands on their Thursday, Friday and Saturday cards.
I’ve met Prewitt several times and he’s always been responsive and classy. He also possesses a smooth, soothing voice, which on a Sunday night, helps keep me — and others, I’m sure — relaxed.
If you do want to place a few bucks down on Pompano racing make sure you look for drivers Wally Hennessey and Fern Pacquet, Jr. They win a lot.
Pompano can be a little unconventional — they’ll put in some 5/8 mile races; a one lap sprint, and in January, they offered a $12,000 “Pop Up Final,” which was won by a wily, 11-year old veteran named Hugh Hefner; and a race that was contested at 1 ¼ miles.
If you like harness racing, Pompano Park is definitely worth checking out, especially on Sunday.